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Once I finished a big breakfast at home, it was back on the bike. While my second day on the trail would be a clear and cool morning, the long term forecast was a bit more iffy. What was left of Hurricane Irma was slowly churning north from the Gulf of Mexico and I had decided that I might be able to outrun it. However, riding would be a bit slower as the bike was loaded with panniers full of clothes, a tent, sleeping bag and pad, plus snacks. With two water bottles full, I was still carrying less than a twenty pound load.
After a four mile ride into the Little Miami River valley, I once again joined the Little Miami Scenic Trail, right where I had left off in Morrow. The valley is fairly deep as the trail parallels the Little Miami River. After a few miles I rode past Morgan’s Canoe Livery Campground. Nearby, Ziplines crossed 200 feet overhead. A steep side trail led to Ft Ancient, a massive set of earthworks constructed by prehistoric Hopewell People. Another, more modern landmark was the new, twin bridges that carry I-71 over the bike trail and the river. At 239 feet over the river, they are the highest bridges in Ohio. A few miles further on, another of “the bridges of Warren County” did not look quite as modern. The Corwin Nixon Covered Bridge on Middletown Road is worth the short side trip. Other points of interest on the beautiful morning included a couple deer crossing the path and several herons fishing on the river. All too soon though, the trail left the by now, really little, Little Miami River and turned a bit east towards Spring Valley. Slim’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill is about a block off the trail and they open at 7 AM for breakfast. After 27 miles, I had missed that, but was getting pretty hungry for lunch. Pulling in, There was already a group of eight other cyclists settled in with menus. Turns out, it was a group of preachers that annually make the ride up to Cleveland. These “holy rollers” sounded like they were on the same basic schedule as me, though they’d be using hotels each night. That was a plus as my planned camp spot in London wouldn’t accommodate more than a few tents.
Lunch was still fresh in my stomach when I rolled into Xenia, a major trail junction for southwest Ohio. Here I left the LMST and picked up the Prairie Grass Trail, heading east. This trail was also a former rail line, but with no river valley to follow, was straight and often exposed as it travelled along large farm fields and signs of agribusiness. Normally, a westerly wind would help push you along on this stretch, but the edge of the monstrous low pressure system that was Irma had already reached me and created a significant headwind.
With the wind against me and the trail on a seemingly endless slight incline, I was starting to wear down. At Cedarville, a pharmacy is right by the trail and I stopped in for a Gatorade. Standing at the register still wearing bike shoes and a helmet, I resisted the urge for a smart ass reply when asked if I was riding the trail. A candy bar and sugary drink were just the prescription I needed and was soon back out, against the wind.
Eleven tough miles later I hit South Charleston. Like many towns, the old railroad station had been rehabbed into a trail rest stop. Often these stops also have a railroad car on display, typically a caboose. There were two cabooses here. I assume the railroads got a nice tax deduction for donating these no longer needed cars, but it makes for a nice atmosphere. I’d planned to stop at a grocery to pick up dinner, but saw nothing along the trail and pushed on.
Reaching the Madison County line, the trail surface was fresh and smooth. Additionally, the incline finally appeared to be over for the time being. I got my second wind and pushed a good pace in toward the town of London, my destination for the night.
At a park right on the trail and at the edge of town, an extremely nice camping area had been set up for those traveling the OTET. I’d made 58 miles (62 counting the distance to my house). There was room for a few tents, and I had my choice. A picnic shelter, water and a restroom were all on site. A map of town showed where various restaurants, stores and services were located. After setting up camp, a half mile ride got me to Subway for a sandwich and Speedway for a cold drink and I was set for the night. As I sat in the shelter with dinner, Dave, from Madison County Parks stopped by for some pleasant dinner conversation. He also confirmed my route through town in the morning.
Other than a few trains on a nearby, still active line waking me, I had a restful night with the area to myself. By the way, this great spot is provided without charge, donations accepted. Make a donation.
In the cool, cloudy morning, I rolled through town, stopping at McDonalds for a high calorie breakfast. While in line, I ran into Dave again for a short chat. On the east side of town, it was back onto former rail line. Roberts Pass Trail, then the Camp Chase Trail headed due east through some major farms to Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park nearing Columbus.
The trail changed dramatically at that point. No longer straight and flat, the route wound down to Darby Creek and was even a gravel path for a bit before a stretch on a park road. Soon however, it was back onto a rail line. As the line was still active though, the path ran beside it with noticeable undulation.
The area was becoming more industrial as I passed under I-270, Columbus’s circle freeway. That was confirmed as I then spent a mile on Industrial Mile Road before returning to Camp Case Trail for a bit. Side trails in this area can be a bit confusing. After another mile on road I reached the Lower Scioto Greenway which followed its namesake river all the way to downtown.
Near downtown Columbus, the route travels through a nice, well maintained greenway park until turning north through town on city streets. Keep an eye out for the turn. I never saw it and continued on the wrong trail for at least a mile before realizing my mistake. Not sure exactly where I made my error I turned to my phone for directions to Nationwide Arena, where I knew I could meet back up with the OTET. After my detour of several blocks, I was back on the now well marked route heading northeast. Less than two miles of road got me to the I-670 Bikeway and the safety of separation from traffic. Despite another missed turn, I soon reached the Alum Creek Trail and conditions changed significantly.
In park like surroundings, the trail meandered along and often over Alum Creek. There were boardwalks and several really cool bridges. There were numerous places to stop and rest, but each time I did, rain caught up to me. I spent the afternoon on the leading edge of some showers, but managed to make it out of the I-275 loop relatively dry. Just outside the loop, I entered Westerville and made it an early day at the Red Roof Inn; perhaps ½ mile from the trail. Forty five miles of riding took me nearly five hours with my detours. Several restaurants and a Kroger were within walking distance and I was warm, clean and dry as some heavy showers later rolled through.