We wandered a bit around Xenia until we found our way to the Xenia station:
It's the hub of several rail-trails network that converge here. We switched from the Little Miami trail to the Prairie Grass trail and started to head east.
Why did the chicken cross the trail? To get away from the stinky bikers, obviously:
More miles of flat, straight trail led us eventually to London and lunch:
After dining at a Subway, we had a bit of a quandary: due to extra mileage on day 1, we were only ten miles from our day two stopping point, but it was only 1:00 in the afternoon. However, we knew once we passed the metro park, our camping opportunities would be nil until we were on the north side of I-270, outside Columbus. We finally decided to go for it, even though it would roll up into a big mileage day.
We passed through the gravel trails of the metro park:
and climbed out to the east side of the park. From there, we had more gravel rail trail, until eventually we came to a gap in the trail:
The workers were building a bridge over a ditch, completely blocking the trail. Our only choice was to climb up to the train tracks and cross that way. I expected to be yelled at by the workers, but they just nodded as we passed through.
It was about 3:00 as we entered into Columbus. This was the worst part of the day, and possibly the worst section of the Ohio to Erie trail: three miles of West Broad street, passing under I-270, no bike lanes, no sidewalk, not much shoulder. Just four to six lanes of urban sprawl. I took this picture looking back at the end:
This is the kind of riding that had me wishing for the toughest, most flat resistant tires ever made, and damn the rolling resistance. In the end, we came through fine, but were still relieved to break off Broad Street and get into the relative safety of the Hilltop neighborhood.
And then it was back on the trail network:
We rode the trail all the way from the I-670/I-70 split area, through the OSU campus, and up into Worthington. Since we were getting into rush hour time, we took a break in Worthington and visited the RIDEhome bike shop and the Graeter's next door. After a quick stop at a drug store for more ibuprofen, we continued on. I was worried about riding along Shrock road, but it had a good sized bike lane and proved to be no issue.
After a day split between rail trails and roads, I'm a little split about which is better. The rail trail through Columbus was quite nice, but the Prairie Grass trail was flat and boring, with nothing to see. The only thing to think about there was how much various parts of my body were hurting. That didn't even cross my mind when we were maneuvering through west Columbus... not that Broad Street is my ideal bike environment, but I do enjoy experiencing the variety of homes and businesses we pass by.
In Westerville, we broke off the Ohio to Erie trail and headed north to Alum Creek SP. We stopped for dinner at the phase 1 trailhead parking lot. I brought along my new cookset, a Christmas gift from Henry, and I really enjoyed using it and thinking of my little boy:
It also packs up better than my old pot, and has an integrated handle that was easy to use. Not bad for camping gear from Target!
In digging through my bags, I also found Kate's kitty ears:
She left these in my pannier bag after my shakedown run to Kroger. A good thing to have in case of emergency (Kate just mentioned I could use them to scare away any Creepers)
Darkness approaching, we set up a stealth camp in the vicinity of the park:
and had a pretty restful night if you could tune out the nearby freeway and Charles shining a light around at midnight to look for a noise he claimed to have heard. We had done 88 miles on day two, and we were really starting to feel the effects of the long hours of pedaling.