LBC on the LMSTby Tim Chilton, VP Touring
Much has been written and said about the now famous Little Miami Scenic Trail, a bike-friendly path that begins just northeast of Cincinnati. For some time, club members have talked about doing some kind of organized ride there. With this seed of an idea planted in my head, I decided that this summer would be as good a time as any to make this happen.
Knowing the trail pretty well, I offered three options for the riders: 1) a one-day out-and-back century course, 2) an out-and-back 82-mile course, and 3) a one-way, self-contained 61-mile journey to Springfield, Oh., with an overnight stay.
All told, we had 11 riders show up in Loveland, Oh., on Saturday morning. It's a long drive from Louisville — 125 miles — but the trip is an easy, direct one that takes about 2 hours.
Loveland is the natural starting point. Ample parking on nicely landscaped lots can be found right next to the trail along with restaurants, restrooms, ice cream shops, and bed-and-breakfast facilities. As we arrived, we found many, many early morning users of the trail were already out and about trying to beat the inevitable July heat.
The travelers from Louisville gathered up and I gave the RC spiel, especially tailored for a multi-use trail. The heavy use by cyclists, walkers, runners, and skaters coupled with stop signs at all street crossings would prevent us from hammering this day. The speed limit is 20 mph, and it appeared to be respected. In our two days of riding, we were only passed by one cyclist that I saw. The simple reality is that going faster than 20 mph is more risk than reward.
I challenged the three century riders (George Lombardi, Mary Brice, Rick Croslin) to ride up to the caboose bike shop in Yellow Springs (yes, it is a bike shop in a caboose) and return from there. I really thought it was right at 50 miles to that point, but when I passed by there I was corrected by an accurate count of 54 miles. That makes a century ride of 108 miles. Oops....
For the first few miles, there were lots of people on the trail but we had no trouble threading through and moving along at a respectable 15-16 mph. With the group tightly packed two-wide, aided with a nice tailwind, a very sweet bubble of negative air pressure was formed. The riders in the back found the going very easy.
Our first stop was in the little town of Corwin, 28 miles into the ride. About halfway up the trail, one will find a quaint little bike-friendly commercial enterprise that practically calls you off the trail. From there, traffic on the trail eased up considerably and the trail surface got really good as we moved into Greene County, nearing Xenia. I advised the century riders that it would be best that they proceed to the turnaround point and have lunch there, since we were going to stop in Xenia at mile 42. We stopped in downtown Xenia at a Bob Evans restaurant that was right along the trail. None of the remaining eight riders (Karen Jaworski, Ellen Mueller, Milita Chilton, Pam Davis, Alan Darby, Steve Sarson, Dan Jaworski, and I) appeared to be the least bit taxed. We had a beautiful summer day with a strong tailwind and little humidity!
From there, we took a detour around the main part of Xenia, cutting through a park and passing by the Fairgrounds on the roadways. While our detour was highly efficient and shielded us from the complications of a bike path in the middle of a downtown area, it did prove deadly to one member of the animal kingdom who was determined to place himself directly into the path of someone's bicycle wheel.
The rest of our trip north was uneventful, and we arrived at our hotel in Springfield in the early afternoon.
Keep in mind that this was the weekend of the great Jan Ullrich-Lance Armstrong time trial, so our cycling obsessed club members were starved for information. By a stroke of luck, our Hampton Inn had the OLN cable channel, so we were able to run very quickly to the TV and watch a recent replay of Lance clinching victory for his fifth consecutive Tour de France.
Thanks to Karen and Dan Jaworski, who had earlier transported their gear to Springfield and had a car waiting there, we were able to shuttle into downtown Springfield and have a very nice dinner (and cocktails!) at the Hickory Inn.
Our return trip was met with equally nice weather but much less traffic on the trail. But we did have one incident that added a touch of adventure to the ride.
While passing through Xenia, Steve Sarson's chain broke as he was crossing an intersection. We were quite fortunate that he didn't go down and get hurt. So what do you do when a chain breaks early on a Sunday morning when you are 170 miles from home? Well, I reached into my little bag of goodies and produced a chain tool and a couple of Shimano 9-speed chain replacement pins. After removing the bad links, we were back on the road in minutes.
When we arrived in the early afternoon in Loveland, we celebrated our successful trip with a nice lunch at the Paxon's Grill right on the trail. It was a great ending to what was one of the more pleasant overnight rides I've done with a group. For a change, we did a fairly long pair of rides that didn't just beat us to death.
Thanks to all who participated and, for those who didn't, this ride will appear on the schedule again. Now the challenge is out to all the other LBC ride captains: I set us up in a hotel with OLN at the time of a crucial Tour de France stage and I had all the tools necessary to heal a sick bicycle chain. You guys are going to really have to work to get Ride Captain of the Year!
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web posted: 14 July 2003
last updated: 7 August 2003