Thursday, September 18, 2014
Ohio to Erie Day 1
I mentioned a few posts back that I was planning to ride the Ohio to Erie trail with buddy Charles. This is a 300 mile, mostly paved, trail from the Ohio River in Cincinnati to Lake Erie in Cleveland. This Sunday, we boldly set out, starting off with Jodi shuttling us down to Cincy. There was no time for long goodbyes, as the Bengals were getting ready to beat the Falcons right in the area we hoped to unload. Jodi parked illegally, we threw our gear out into a pile on the sidewalk, and we were on our own.
Our planning for this trip was pretty carefree. We spent an hour with Google maps over lunch about a week prior, sketching out distances and likely stopping points. Mostly for my own amusement, I'll record that our original plan was:
Sunday: Cincy to Caesar Creek SP, 54 miles, campsite
Monday: to Batelle Darby Metro Park, 64 miles, stealth camp
Tuesday: cross Columbus to Mt. Vernon, 63 miles, hotel
Wednesday: to Apple Creek vicinity, 55 miles, sleep in a ditch somewhere
Thursday: to the Cuyahoga Valley NP, 48 miles, campsite
Friday: roll the last 20 miles to Lake Erie, Charles's wife picks us up to head home
There's the Ohio River in the background:
So that part of the plan went OK at least.
We stopped to say goodbye to Cincinatus:
and shortly found the first marker for the Ohio to Erie trail:
We made a quick stop to sample the local cuisine:
and stopped to put the squeeze on the Met Life blimp:
We eventually hooked up to the Little Miami trail, which we would spend the rest of the day on. It was pretty crowded with Sunday traffic getting out of town, but eventually settled down to miles of this:
What you don't see is that it was a mild, but noticeable, uphill slope. Our theory was the the prevailing tailwinds would cancel this out. In practice, the theory was proven wrong most of the time.
We took a mid afternoon break for the requisite ice cream stop:
Later in the afternoon, 50 miles down, we were starting to great pretty tired and sore, encouraged along only by the approach of our camp at Caesar's Creek. Unfortunately, when we finally reached the road turnoff to Caesar's, a more detailed iPhone map check confirmed that the only campground was on the far side of the state park, some 20+ additional miles distant and well off our planned course. A friendly guy on a recumbent mentioned a small B&B at the next town up, seven miles away in Spring Valley.
Of course, it was closed when we got there.
Our next plan was to stealth camp off trail, but the Little Miami trail is pretty much entirely bounded by corn and soy fields with prominent "No Trespassing" signs. In the end, we pushed on to Xenia, confirming there was a motel room available at the Country Inn (formerly Knight's Inn). Turns out, $55 doesn't buy much in motel rooms these days:
This picture doesn't really convey the general seediness of the room, or the smokey smell, or the holes in the drywall around the shower head. After checking the beds for bedbugs, we promptly resolved to spend as little time in the room as possible, and walked across the street for a pizza and a pitcher of the best beer they had, which only cost $5.
68 miles down for the day, we tucked in with the satisfaction that at least we were ahead of schedule.
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