Great Bike Rides Are Everywhere
I think this is true, no matter where you are and if you look hard enough, you will find it. When I moved back to Ohio from the Bay Area six years ago, I was certain that I was leaving behind great cycling and that I wouldn’t find anything comparable. True, the Midwest lacks oceans, redwood forests, mountains, and exceptional weather, a lot of the time. However, my lack of perspective soon was changed.
The Search Begins
When I first moved back to Ohio, I had no idea where to go out and find a decent road ride. Sure, there is substantial bike trail system here that is well maintained and built on the foundation of defunct railroad lines. The trail runs from Cincinnati to Cleveland and offers perfect, debris free pavement. In the summer months, a lot of the bike trail is shaded over by trees. And most times, the number of riders on the trail is very low so you can ride uninterrupted for as many miles as you like without the worries of traffic.
So now you are probably, thinking, “Well, you have a great bike trail, why do you need to ride on the road?” Simple answer: I like a challenge, and riding the bike trail isn’t challenging to me because it is flat. Furthermore, and more often than not, there are people walking on the trail, which breaks my momentum if I have to slow down. And lastly, depending on where you might be on the bike trail, you catch a stop sign every mile to two miles because the trail, of course, bisects roads and intersections. So, I began my search for something close to what I had in California and even in North Carolina when I lived there.
When I first came back to Ohio, I stayed with my mom for a while before moving here to Cincinnati. She lives in the country outside of Dayton, which eliminated the act of loading the bike in the car and driving somewhere to a ride. Thanks to Google and the fact I knew the area, I started to find okay areas to explore. There were some climbs and quiet country roads but still a lot of these were farm roads without much variation in the terrain. Plus, I had a difficult time carving out a long ride over 35 miles. Once I moved all that changed.
Great Bike Riding Found
Dayton is a relatively small city and I was craving something larger. A friend suggested I move to Cincinnati, which for many reasons, mostly personal, I needed to do. Truth is, once I moved here, I thought I had made a mistake. I didn’t like the city at all, and then, of course, bike riding on the road here seemed very challenging. There aren’t many bike lanes, the roads aren’t in great shape in places, and lots more traffic.
Once again, I pulled-up Google and started exploring roads close to me. The first few attempts were a bust, but then I discovered roads, which got me out to the country and there I found challenging but short hills, some even with 12% grades. As time went by and I got to know the city better and moved to a different apartment, I discovered new roads via Element Bicycles, a local shop, which holds shop rides every Thursday during the summer.
Consequently, I discovered roads along the river east of the city, roads north of the city, and even roads in the city itself that would pass through Eden Park. I have even now discovered roads in Newport, Kentucky, which is across the river from Cincinnati.Pretty soon I was kicking out 50 mile plus rides with 2500-3000 feet of climbing. I’m still not so enamored with Cincinnati, but it really is true that, with a little effort, time, and patience, great road rides can be found anywhere.