Many of the bicyclists on the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure looked the same as they pedaled through our region last week. They blend together, with their nice bikes, sleek jerseys and aerodynamic helmets.
It was hard to miss Elias Freytag, though. The boy, who turns 3 on July 4, just sat back, smiled and enjoyed the ride in his recumbent-style trailer behind his grandfather’s bicycle.
“He just sits back and talks about whatever he sees,” said John Freytag, 61, of Sidney. “If we go by a park, we have to stop. But he’ll point out every truck, bulldozer, horses … golf carts are a new favorite of his.”
Along with his uncle Adam, 24, three generations of Freytag men cycled across Northwest Ohio last week, starting in Van Wert on June 20 and wrapping up there Saturday. For the youngest of them, he might remember the tour for the numerous playgrounds he visited.
“He doesn’t do much pedaling,” Adam said. “We probably utilize the stops a little more than other riders. We’ll stop in a park, and he’s in heaven. The other riders go through, rolling in and out, and he’ll want to stay 30 minutes to play.”
The friendly toddler might be one of the more popular riders of the more than 2,000 on this year’s tour. Elias is gregarious and chatty, and there hasn’t been a stranger who stayed that way long.
Their family stopped in Ottawa on Friday afternoon, marking 60 miles of cycling so far. My family volunteered to shuttle them around, provide them hot showers and give them a place to sleep, and they shared their story.
Adam and John had ridden GOBA together in 2005, at the urging of a family friend. Then Adam got busy with sports in school, then onward to college.
Now, Adam and John work together at Freytag & Associates Inc., a firm of architects and engineers in Sidney. Adam is on track to become the fourth generation of architects there.
When John’s youngest daughter had Elias, he became John’s biking buddy. It started with a car seat before advancing to the recumbent trailer. The two do their own miniature tour on Memorial Day and Labor Day, biking from Troy to Cincinnati along a trail.
In 2014, John got the idea to go back on the GOBA tour, this time with a third generation.
“Last year I thought it might be fun to take Elias on this tour,” John said. “I asked my daughter, and she said it was OK, but she didn’t want to go along. Then I cornered Adam and said, ‘I can’t do this alone.’”
Having Elias along might slow down their time from town to town, but it opened their eyes to everything around them.
“There’s really so much for Elias to look at, things that other people might ride right past,” Adam said.
During Monday’s brief stop in Columbus Grove, they stumbled upon the taxidermied giraffe, hippopotamus and rhinoceros within the unassuming-looking Clymer Wildlife Museum.
“The whole place was packed with bikes, and we couldn’t figure out where to park ours,” John said. “The cop there was so nice and told us to lean it against his car. We wandered around a little with him, and then noticed the little sign for a natural museum. We checked it out, and it was really something.”
It’s been a trip full of listening to polka bands, trying out different foods and watching children’s theater groups perform parts of their productions. Elias had his eyes glued on all of it.
Most of all, it’s been a chance to bond for the family.
“You develop a close bond, taking a trip like this,” John said.