On the Trail Again: Newport, KY to Xenia, OH
I had done this trip many times before but this was the first time since my crash. I had ridden through the winter taking just a month to recover. Still, I wasn't sure how I would feel.
Sure enough 6:30 AM and my alarm is screaming at me. Wake up, shower, pull up the bib shorts, and pull over the jersey. Normal check to make sure everything on the bike is working, top off the tires, top off my bottles, and away I go at 7:30.
The Purple People Bridge lets me cross from Kentucky into Cincinnati, Ohio without having to deal with traffic. Ten miles out along the river, I take note of where to sit and rest on the way back. They have been extending the trail closer to downtown, so I join where it is rideable. Just another couple of miles of traffic.
Then, I can access the Little Miami Trail, part of the Underground Rail Road Bicycle Route. This section is also a rail-trail as it follows an old railroad. All along the way are signs, either about life on the river, or some history about the railroad. The city melts away in the cool morning air as I make my escape. It is still early, so trail traffic is light and I have only 50 miles left to Xenia.
A few more miles and I see someone taking a rest with their Bike Friday. I have researched folders so of course I stop and chat. James is retired and has plenty of stories to tell, from flying down hills on a fifty pound Schwinn, to how to woo your high school crush. I enjoy the chat and continue on always with a "see you down the road."
I look down at the time. I have been going way too fast. I won't be able to eat in Loveland. I sit down at a bench and enjoy the morning. I hear the whistle from King's Island in the distance. Okay, I should have wasted enough time.
Loveland Cafe is open. A vegetarian sandwich and a Coke make my early lunch. I call my mother to let her know I am okay and brag on Facebook that I am making good time. Loveland is having a farmer's market that I will miss. I notice a group of older men having coffee and getting ready for a ride. Away I go, only 30 more miles.
Still making good time, I realize that if I keep going I will have to sit in the hotel lobby. So I stop in Corwin at the Peddler for a milkshake. They still haven't opened full time yet, and I am lucky that they are open. I catch up with the group I passed in Loveland, they went on an ice cream ride. Now it is one more 15 mile push to Xenia.
As always, Raj is working at the Ramada. We chat and exchange stories. Trail traffic has been low because of the rain and more rain is expected tomorrow. I get my room key and head for a shower followed by dinner. The restaurant has great fettucini.
Morning again: I stretch my legs, get ready and head downstairs. Raj is at home and won't be in until 9. Oh well, everything was great and I head back towards home. I take my time stopping in Morrow to chat with a group out on a training ride. They are going to go towards the hills. I am reminded that the trail is flat, but that is fine by me. An older couple is there as well and we talk. Something about being on the trail makes me even more social.
I make it to Loveland just as The Works is opening. It's a bit expensive, but totally worth it. If only someone was riding with me so I could try a pizza there. I try the trail visitor center but it is closed. I chat some more with the people gathering to take on the trail. I am reminded that I am missing a farmers market tomorrow. I would love to go, but my legs are feeling like jelly already.
Back on the construction near Ohio, I stop and watch some little league baseball. The river hosts its variety of people, the trail is finished up ahead and it is busy. I cross the Purple People Bridge and my apartment is in sight. Once there, I dismount and stand for a moment, empty my bottles in a few big gulps and head inside.
Tip for this adventure: You can start in downtown Cincinnati and mix with traffic, or start at one of the suburban trail heads. Loveland has a wealth of restaurants and a reasonable bike shop as well as headquarters for Friends of the Little Miami Trail. The Corwin Peddler is a must stop for an ice cream or a late lunch.
Favorite local bike shop: Reser Bicycle Outfitters in Newport, KY.