Collecting horseshoes on bike commute through Wayne and Holmes counties

By JOHN LORSON Columnist Published:

Every once in a while I'll meet someone who "knows" me only from this column and has come to the conclusion that my weekly ramblings herein constitute my only job. Ah, that my words were golden!

The sad truth is that every morning I pull on my tights one leg at time just like everyone else, then roll down the road to Millersburg where my "real" job as the administrator of a tiny, satellite college campus awaits. (Don't worry, once I arrive and park my bicycle I put on "normal" clothes -- occasionally even a tie -- to go about the business of the day.) My real job not only enables me to feed my family, it also places me smack in the middle of one of the most wonderful places on the planet -- a land literally flowing with milk and honey, not to mention cheese, hardwood furniture, pickled beets, leather products, chicken and noodles, garage doors and rhubarb pie: The heart of Ohio's Amish Country.

The trip back and forth through God's Country is my bonus, and I like to do it by bicycle as often as possible for a number of reasons. First, of course, is that I am an inherently stingy individual. My parents, both raised during the Great Depression, helped to infuse my every action with a mind toward thrift. Their "Why spend a dollar when a dime will do?" ethic helps nudge me out the door on a bike for the 50-mile round-trip most any time there isn't ice on the roads. (That's a good couple of gallons of gas I'm saving. My father would be so proud!)

Secondly, there are probably few other places on this continent where non-motorized travel is the norm, rather than the exception. As bizarre as it may seem to imagine a guy riding a bicycle down a country road at 5:30 in the morning, it becomes even more of a curiosity when one realizes he is almost never alone! On any given early morning or late evening commute between Orrville and Millersburg I am far more likely to encounter walkers, bike riders, buggies and folks on horseback than automobiles. True, I choose my routes carefully, but to imagine you can travel 25 miles anywhere in 21st Century America and see tenfold as many buggies as cars is flat out astounding! Every once in a while I complete the trip having encountered no motorized traffic at all!

And finally we come to my favorite reason of all for a slow-lane commute: Horseshoes! Each year I tally my good fortune by the number of wayward horseshoes I find along my route. Last year I tied my record of eight finds by spotting seven shoes along the roads between home and work. It's difficult to imagine any better place than Wayne or Holmes counties for this sport. But I was actually mountain biking in North Carolina for the real find of the year: I spotted a horseshoe under the sparkling water of a stream I was crossing!

Sure, I suppose one could argue the good luck for me begins with a bit of bad luck for a horse, but that's just a little too much logic to mix with pure superstition. I'll take my charms where I find them and with any luck, 2013 will be another banner year!

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