Today was our shortest ride for the tour. The weather forecast indicated that it would be a hot day without any clouds, and it definitely was both.
Father Ron made us a yummy breakfast, essentially an omelette-in-a-mug, to get us started. He took very good care of us during our brief stay.
We said goodbye to Father Ron at St. Agnes around 7:00AM and carefully tracked our way to the Camp Chase trail head. However, just as we were getting close, a smell hit both Joe and I. It wasn’t just any smell… It was the kind of smell that draws you in, leading you by some subconscious impulsive desire that must be satisfied. Yes, it was freshly made donuts.
Again, I am supposed to be avoiding wheat, and I haven’t had a donut in about a year. But… There must be some sort of pheromone thing in the donuts at this place. Joe and each had a donut and split a third. Awesomeness.
It was comical trying to order these three donuts. The nice young lady behind the counter wanted to put them into a styrofoam box. I explained that I didn’t need the box. She got out smaller styrofoam containers. I told her they were going to be eaten very quickly. She seemed perplexed as to what to do with this strange request. So I grabbed some napkins and said “just put them here”. She begrudgingly handed over the chocolate-cake glazed wonders. And within two minutes, they were gone.
My wife says we talk too much about food on our bike trips… So I guess I’ll just move along here.
We jumped onto the Camp Chase trail. This is a very smoothly paved trail that runs next to some rail lines. It was already warm enough that we didn’t need any arm warmers or jackets, and you could feel the humidity in the air. Several miles later, we arrived at the Batelle Darby Creek Metro Park.
Once inside the park, there are a couple of ways you can go. One path takes you through the woods, while the other is nearly all on a paved surface. There is a short section that goes off-road into the woods next to the Big Darby Creek. We stopped to grab a couple of pictures and continued on.
After leaving the park, we followed the Roberts Pass trail for about 7 miles into the town of London. This was another case where the maps didn’t indicate how large the town was. We were pleasantly surprised to find a very nice little town. Knowing that we had many miles to go in very hot weather, we went in search of water to refill our bottles, and stopped at a convenience store. A large bottle of Gatorade, and three refills of icy cold water later, we were back on our way.
Just outside of town, we found the northern trailhead for the Prarie Grass Trail. I stopped to adjust my rear brake mount, and as I was working on my bike, two young ladies zipped by and said hello as they passed. More about them in a moment…
The Prarie Grass Trail is a well maintained and paved trail that is ~25 miles long and runs all the way into Xenia Station. It is not very shady – it doesn’t have the canopied tree lining that some of the older trails do. The sun was pretty hot and the headwinds picked up. Watching the grasses and trees alongside the trail, we could see that the wind was pretty directly in our face, and pretty strong.
We reached South Charleston and needed to refill water again. This is a really wonderful little town. We took a leisurely tour of their downtown and made our way toward the trailhead. As we were turning onto the street near the trailhead, we saw a group of cyclists who were wearing the same jersies as the two young women we’d seen earlier. They all convened in the park next to the trail, eating lunch.
It turns out that this is a group of 29 young college students and recent grads who are cycling across the US to raise funds and awareness for affordable housing. One of the kids lives in Lexington KY as well, and had just graduated from the University of Kentucky. They started in Providence RI and were heading to the Northwest coast. We chatted for a few minutes and wished them well.
With the sun high over head, we pressed on to Xenia. The winds kept pushing against us, but we were anxious to arrive. We passed through Cedarville, topping off water and getting a quick snack, then continued to Xenia Station. From this point on, most of the rest of the trip is in very familiar territory along the Little Miami Scenic Trail.
We arrived too early to check into our AirBnB, so we rode north of town a short way to find our lunch / early dinner. We decided on Frisch’s, and had a nice meal. The best part was that the air conditioning was cranked up high. It felt good to get chilled down. We took our time eating and relaxing a bit in the cool comfort of the restaurant. By the time we left, we both were a bit uncomfortably cold. That was great.
Our final stop for the day was the AirBnB. We took a relaxed pace for about another 3 miles to get there. A very thorough showering was in order to get off the mix of dirt, tiny bugs, and sunscreen. It always feels soooo good to scrub down after a long day on the bike.
It is only 4:30 now, and I am already feeling like it must be close to bed time. Yawn. It will be work to stay awake. Must…do…laundry.
Tomorrow is the last day of our tour. We ride into Cincinnati, and cross over the Ohio River into Kentucky. We will meet my wife there and head home. It looks like about another 70 mile day.
Weather tomorrow looks to be pretty warm, and potentially a little stormy. We are hoping to get an early start and beat the heat.
We’d appreciate prayers for good weather and safety. Thanks in advance.