Oxford Ohio was our planned destination for today, but when Susie looked for a hotel, there was nothing available. She found out it was Miami University’s wow-the-parents weekend and everything was booked, so we turned a lemon into lemonade. We decided to add some miles to Friday’s ride and take some miles off of Saturday’s planned 108-mile ride and get to the next town, Middletown. The ride turned out to be a grab bag.
Before we even left the hotel, we met a family that was escaping Hurricane Matthew and using the opportunity to visit family in the area.
The first 14 miles of road out of Greensburg were upon chip seal pavement. It rattled my bike and bones. You may be able to get a taste of it from this video.
I emerged from the chip seal ordeal briefly onto a major intersection, only to find myself on a two-lane road with no shoulder. At least it wasn’t chip seal.
A sudden right turn after a downhill put me in Oldenburg, an American town with all the street signs in German.
Coming out the other side of Oldenburg, I finally found myself on an idyllic meandering country road that had not one, but two, major lovely churches only a few miles apart.
I descended into a valley and the elevation profile promised a significant ascent. I kept taking Shotblocks, my hill-climbing “vitamin,” in anticipation of the uphill. Instead, I went over a river into the little town of Brookville.
After passing through Brookville, I finally saw the uphill. It was chip seal and fairly long but the grade was barely 4% so I never had to use my granny gear. It was the ascent that wasn’t.
A couple of quick turns put me onto Old Oxford Pike, another country road from another era with farmers harvesting corn.
We knew Ohio was near and we kept looking for the sign or for signs of it when a completely burned down house grabbed my attention. A sign on the mailbox explained that a couple had lovingly restored it over a period of 4 1/2 years spending every weekend and holiday on it only to have it burn down, then the insurance company refused to pay claims saying that it was abandoned at the time of the fire. Heartbreaking.
There was no Ohio sign, but there was a sign. The road pavement and striping suddenly changed. Ohio welcomed me with a swift downhill followed by a significant uphill, and would continue to deliver such ups and downs throughout the afternoon. Here’s a video to give you a feel for it.
After a quick lunch at a place that shall remain unnamed, we were fully immersed in the college town of Oxford. At a traffic light, I pulled up even with a car. With the lovely fall temperature, the window was open. The passenger saw me on the bike and said, “You’re biking!” I said yes and that I had started in California. She burst out, “That’s my dream! You’re living my dream!” I replied, “Don’t wait. Do it!” The light changed and the car turned the corner before I could give her a card with my blog address.
Proceeding on the RAAM route, we came to a Road Closed sign. This was a seriously closed road, completely impassable by car, but not by bike. I bumped along over loose gravel, walked the bike past a large piece of idle equipment that completely blocked passage, and finally came out the other end. I carefully followed directions to our hotel, but when I went to check in, our reservation wasn’t there. With so many nights in so many different places, we had gone to the wrong hotel!
It was a day of the hill that wasn’t, the Ohio sign that wasn’t, the road that wasn’t, and the hotel that wasn’t.
What drove us forward into the evening was the fulfillment of a promise to a young gentleman farmer who my mom and I had met in July on a Great Lakes cruise on a small ship. Arlyn’s whole family was on the cruise. Arlyn would be a freshman at Miami University in Oxford, right on my bike route. We agreed on board that we would catch up when I cycled through town and we did.
For the next few days, we will continue to meet up with old friends and new.
Start location: Greensburg IN
End location: Middletown OH
Distance: 79.6 miles
Cumulative distance: 2449.3 miles
Elevation gain: 2841.2 feet
Special features: Crossed into Ohio, the 9th state of the trip
Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/737532735