Indianapolis to Cincinnati...and back
Brandon, Jim, and I hatched a plan for an epic weekend touring ride early in the summer over lunch at our favorite cajun restaurant. Bored with the typical racing and group ride culture that seems to permeate popular cycling, we wanted to plan rides that were adventures — fun, relaxing, yet still incredibly challenging. Cincinnati was a convenient 120 miles from Indy, so we decided to take a 3-day weekend and ride there and back.
The trip seemed doomed from the start. Jim was reeling from his breakfast of White Castle, and I caught my packed jacket in my spokes not 3 miles down Shelby Street and flatted a bit further down Thompson. Brandon was ready to go, and he pulled us through these first harrowing morning hours. It was 5am, and the plan was to ride 125 miles to a motel outside Cincinnati.
The city slowly gave way to pancake flat country roads characteristic of central Indiana. About 30 miles in, we passed through the small town of Morristown, where we lounged next to an old caboose car preserved at a CH&D rail depot from times past. Morristown was a handy place to fill up water and snacks, our last chance until Connersville.
Another 30 miles down empty, straight country roads (just us, tractors, corn, and cows!) saw us in Connersville. Here, we set all reservations aside and inhaled a delicious deep dish meat lovers at Big Boys Pizza. After stumbling back to our bikes, we rode across the Whitewater River, and the hills began. In Alquina, we stopped to stock up on more snacks and drinks at a friendly bait shop, having some nice conversations with passersby. Soon after, we crossed Brookville Reservoir (down, down to the lake, up up up the other side!). 81 miles into the ride we finally reached Ohio, crossing the border at the town of College Corner. Eight miles down a busy highway took us to Oxford, where we downed Frostys at a Wendys. Here, we said goodbye to Jim who turned south to meet some other friends.
Brandon and I pedalled onward, and the miles crept by slower and slower. The hills were starting to wear on us. In Hamilton, we found a neat bike path along the Great Miami River that we followed for a few miles. By this time, dusk was starting to settle, and we were tanking. When we finally reached our hotel, the sun had set. A case of beer and some Family Guy re-runs left us sleeping like happy, contented babies without a care in the world.
We had planned to take the next day to explore the nearby Little Miami rail trail, but our legs were feeling pretty rough. So we just cruised around town, ate a bunch of food and milk shakes, taking it easy prepping for the return trip.
The return trip (into the wind now!) was quicker, but not any easier. We backtracked the same route through the hot August corn fields. The highlight of the return was a city park in Morristown, where we laid out in the grassy shade for a long nap. Back in Indianapolis, we were dead tired, but happy to have had an adventure we will remember and talk about for many years. A nearly 300 mile journey had come to an end, and we were all the better for it.
Tip for this adventure: It was helpful knowing we had a place to stay at the end of the day. This is a long, challenging ride, and knowing we had a bed reserved at the end gave us one less thing to stress about.
Also, route planning ahead of time was important. This is too long of a ride and Indiana Augusts are too hot to get lost for and still make your destination.
Favorite local bike shop: Bicycle Garage Indy