Newport, KY to Columbus, OH - Cincinnasty to the Mistake on the Lake - CycleBlaze

July 30, 2020

Newport, KY to Columbus, OH

I was up early, slightly anxious as usual on the first day of a tour. I watched the weather report delivered by annoyingly cheerful women on two different television stations. They agreed that it was going to rain.

I got ready and walked downstairs to the Hampton Inn breakfast, where I was the first guest to arrive. As expected during these pandemic times, it was a disappointing affair. I never expected I would be nostalgic for the glory days of the pre-virus Hampton Inn free hot breakfast, but, as I ate a plate of lukewarm, soggy potatoes, I was.

I went outside and rode a few hundred feet in the direction of the purple pedestrian/bike bridge across the Ohio River, and then, in what would be the first of several navigational errors on this trip, realized that I'd approached it the wrong way, and had to carry the bike up a flight of steep  stairs to actually get on the bridge.

The view of the sunrise was nice from the bridge. I was a little early, and took a few photos while I waited for Marc.

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Before Marc arrived, though, Sam Cottle, a cyclist we knew, appeared. He'd been in contact with Marc, and was going to ride a few miles with us this morning. I was happy to have a Cincinnati rider along for part of it, since I was a little nervous about the first several miles of riding on city streets we had to do before we could get on the trail.

In a few minutes, Marc and his stepfather Jerry rode up. Jerry was also going to ride with us for a while this morning.

Jerry.
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We rode off the Purple Bridge into Ohio and onto Cincinnati streets. I don't love urban riding, but this was alright, even quite nice for the first several miles until we reached Lunken Airport.

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After Lunken, the route became a lot busier as it led us through a heavy industrial area. Our timing was unfortunate, since it was now rush hour for all the workers commuting to the factories in the area. I've seen a lot worse traffic, though, and it wasn't long before we reached the beginning of the familiar Little Miami Scenic Trail, which we'd ride for many miles this morning.

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Jeff LeeTo Marc PawsatI believe they were just a little overly cautious ;)

FYI, I took a COVID-19 test on Monday afternoon before going home. It was negative. The test was no big deal - not as bad as I expected.
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5 months ago

The topic of conversation as we rode to Milford, and then Loveland, was the weather forecast. We were guardedly optimistic that we might be able to "outrun" the rain, so we stopped only briefly in Loveland to take a few photos.

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A section of the trail was closed just past Loveland, but the detour was short and easy. We continued up the trail.

When we arrived in South Lebanon, we pulled over for a while and talked to Marc's dad, who lives nearby, and had driven over with a cooler of cold drinks. After a pleasant conversation, we said goodbye and continued riding under increasingly cloudy skies.

Marc's dad was the third surprise "guest" on the ride already, and for the rest of the day I would periodically ask my riding companion if his second cousin, or perhaps an uncle or a step-nephew, would be appearing at the next trail-head with a cooler of drinks, and maybe even some snacks.

No other surprise guests appeared, however.

Marc and his dad.
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At some point we failed to "outrun" the rain, and by the time we arrived at in Xenia, it was a steady drizzle. I urgently needed to eat something, and we eventually determined where the fast food restaurants in town were, so we headed there using a combination of bike lanes and sidewalks.

The information provided by these two old guys wasn't that useful. Marc had better luck with two young women, who did in fact direct us toward the street with restaurants.
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We stopped first at a Taco Bell, which we discovered was  open only for drive-through because of the stupid virus. There was a Little Caesar's carryout pizza place next to it, so I opted for that, while Marc, believing that it was illegal to ride a bicycle through a Taco Bell drive-through, convinced one of the motorists in the line to order for him.

Since there was no place to sit inside and eat, we sat on the few feet of dry concrete under the eaves of the Little Caesar's and ate our respective lunches. For approximately the 2,000th time in my life, I burned the roof of my mouth with the hot pizza, despite Marc's warning. I guess I'm a slow learner, since I still do this after fifty years of pizza consumption.

The entertainment while we ate was provided by an apparently enraged driver in the Taco Bell parking lot next to us, who repeatedly, and scarily, squealed and skidded her tires and revved her engine. I assumed she was angry because she was unable to go inside to eat a burrito, or the line in the drive through was too long, or some other first-world problem.

Lunch.
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We finished lunch, got back on the trail, and turned in the direction of Columbus. I'd never ridden this part of the trail before. It was pleasant enough, even in the drizzle.

The rain slacked off for a few minutes, just in time for Marc to get a flat rear tire. I provided some encouragement, and a pump, as he changed it. Neither of us could find the source of the puncture, and I was very dubious about putting a new tube on without knowing what had caused the flat. For the rest of the day I expected another flat, but amazingly enough, it didn't happen.

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Bill ShaneyfeltIf you carry a cotton ball in your patch kit, you can use it to rub back and forth inside the tire so the fibers catch on whatever caused the puncture, making it easy to find the problem, even tire wires. No blood and easy to find.

Probably 15 years or so back I learned that on a bike touring website. Handy!
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5 months ago
Jeff LeeThanks! Somehow in all my years of touring, I've never heard of that trick.
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5 months ago

We made a stop in South Charleston and purchased snacks and drinks at a gas station. Marc made small talk with an old man, while I, disturbed by the angle of the rack on Marc's bike, got out my wrench and adjusted it. This was a rare opportunity to demonstrate my extremely meager mechanical skills - and there's even a photo to document to doubters (like my much more handy wife) that I actually used a tool successfully. Nice.

Marc and his new friend.
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I found Marc's drooping rack slightly disturbing.
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I look like I know what I'm doing!
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We rode on in the light rain. I briefly caused us to get lost in the town of London, but that probably only added an extra half mile. Not bad, considering my long history of wandering off routes while bike touring.

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We arrived at a confusing intersection on the trail, which required us to ride on gravel for a bit, and included the first minor hill of the day.

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We rode past a line of extremely clean, brand-new-looking train cars. Marc theorized that the lack of graffiti was explained by the use of some sort of high tech, slippery paint, which was somehow impervious to graffiti. 

I was dubious about this theory, which in fact was proven incorrect in about 30 seconds when we saw one of the usual offensive messages scrawled on one of the cars.

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The trail ended for a while at a busy rush hour intersection when we arrived on the outskirts of Columbus, commencing a long, wet, difficult period in which we spent what seemed like hours covering perhaps ten miles.

Earlier, as I had annoyingly expounded to Marc my many "rules" of bicycle touring, I'd told him that "we don't ever go backwards." Now, though, I suggested we ride back a mile or two and stay at a what was likely a terrible cheap motel in order to avoid riding any further into the city in the rain. He reminded me of my "rule", though, and we continued on.

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Using a combination of paper maps of the trail we were carrying, Google Maps, and the RideWithGps app, we inched toward an area with a few nicer hotels and some restaurants.

We (or I - Marc wasn't wearing his glasses) could see the Courtyard by Marriott, but we spent twenty minutes riding through parking lots and on sidewalks while attempting to find a way to actually reach the place. Ironically, our meandering route to the hotel caused us to ride through water sprinklers multiple times, while it also rained on us.

Once we reached the hotel and checked in, though, memories of the difficult last miles of the day already began to fade, as usually happens while bike touring. We walked to a nearby German restaurant for dinner, then retired early.

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Today's ride: 129 miles (208 km)
Total: 129 miles (208 km)

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John PescatoreA friend of mine, who lives just north of Columbus, got caught in that downpour while out on the Olentangy bike trail yesterday, which you might be on today.

A few years ago, he and I did 50 miles from Mt. Vernon south back to his house. You should have a nice start to your ride on that stretch, once you get out of Columbus.
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5 months ago
Jeff LeeHey John,

We already did the tour, on July 30, 31, and August 1st. We had a great day with perfect weather on the 31st, and then rain again on the 1st.

It was much nicer getting out of Columbus than getting into the city. I'll finish the journal today.
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5 months ago
Rick TresslerI’m the guy (Rick) John Pescatore wrote about. Been in Columbus nearly 30 years. Yep, got nailed with the rain you rode through here in town. I did 10 miles that day. After a couple nasty nearby lightning strikes, I decided it was a good idea to head back to the proverbial barn. First time in a while I’d ridden in driving rain.
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5 months ago