End Of The Trail. For Now.

rr_signalOn Easter, I began my trek from Newport-on-the-Levee, across the river from Cincinnati in Northern Kentucky, to Yellow Springs, Ohio, an annual ritual I’ve been doing by bike since 2010, mostly along the Little Miami Trail.

I’d hoped to tell you that this week, I made it all the way to Yellow Springs. The weather has not cooperated. I’d finish next weekend or the weekend after, but I really need to get started on the Insanity workout and get my weight back under control.

As you can see from the picture on the left, the bulk of the trail follows the former Little Miami Railroad. This year, construction began on the trails southern end near Lunken Airport. Eventually, this will connect with the current terminus at Newtown. The weather has been mostly good, though for the first three legs of the journey, it was unusually chilly.

What struck me this year was the amount of history along the trail. I rode last weekend from Morrow to Corwin, and on the way back was thinking, “This is part of where Lincoln rode to his inauguration.”

cannonThere is also a town farther down the trail called Miamiville, the site of one of the few Civil War battles to take place in Ohio. Union troops stationed at Camp Dennison (now an unincorporated village also along the trail) met John Morgan’s Raiders at Miamiville and drove them east. Morgan and his Confederate intruders were eventually captured near Cambridge, close to the West Virginia border.

Today, however, some of the trail is sad to look at. Morrow, a farm town north of Cincinnati, looks almost dead. Along the trail are several rundown multifamily homes that have more For Rent signs in the windows than curtains. A couple of businesses appear to be in business, but look abandoned when you look in the windows. My next stop on that leg of the trail was Corwin. I was disheartened to see a huge sign in front of the Corwin Peddler, an English-style restaurant, proclaiming “Business for sale to new owner.” I used to love stopping at the peddler when I did the trail. It’s not quite a pub, but the food was different, and it’s a great place to relax after you’ve ridden 14-18 miles, depending on whether you started or turned around at Corwin. I hope someone buys the place. I’d hate for there to be nothing at one of the major trailheads.

My favorite parts of the trail, though, are downtown Loveland, the Little Miami Gorge north of Morrow, and the nature preserve south of Xenia. Loveland, of course, is a quiet little town northeast of Cincinnati. I almost always stop at Paxton’s Grill whenever the trail takes me there. The Gorge boasts the Little River Cafe, this year, the site of something I’d not seen before. The Cafe does not open until 4PM (which is why I haven’t been there in years. One day, I’ll do the Corwin leg in the afternoon instead of the morning.), and this spring found the lot taken over by about twenty buzzards. Huge birds, though you don’t want to get too close to them. They’re ugly, and they have a bad habit of puking on anyone who gets to close. Yet I and a local from the town on that section of the trail, stood watching these birds scavenging the lot, mostly near the dumpster. On my way back through, they were gone as the Little River Cafe employees had showed up to prepare for the afternoon.

Also in the Gorge is the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge, currently being replaced. morrow6To the left is how the bridge looked about three years ago. Mind you, I didn’t realize I’d walked through a field of poison ivy when I took that shot. Thank God I’m still fairly immune to the stuff. This time, as I passed through, I could see the new southbound bridge under construction. It will likely open next year to northbound traffic while the current northbound span is demolished and replaced. Construction teams have done a good job keeping the trail open. They’ve limited closures to weekdays and to no more than an hour. Though when the existing spans are demolished, debris will prove an interesting challenge. It’s still strange to pass beneath the bridge and hear a semi 350 over your head farting its way toward Cincinnati or Columbus. Sometimes, it’s a little unsettling, too.

I still want to finish the trail this year, going all the way to Yellow Springs. However, my ultimate goal comes on my fiftieth birthday. That week, I want to run the Flying Pig Marathon, sort of proof to myself that I’ll be healthier at fifty than I was at forty (or even thirty.) But that’s one weekend. By then, the trail will be open all the way to the Ohio River (and if it’s not, I’ll have figured out a way to bridge the gap between Newtown and Lunken.) There is a hotel along the trail in Yellow Springs. I plan to have Nita drive me and my bike up on a Friday night, spend the night, and get us a hotel room in Newport, Kentucky. I’ll meet up with her after riding the entire almost-90 miles in one day. For now, I plan to take care of the last two sections of trail in July.

Mmm… Nice and hot.