Car Less Ohio

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Ohio to Erie Trail Tour: Day 2 – Waynesville to Lockbourne

Back to Ohio to Erie Trail Tour: Day 1 – North Bend to Cincinnati to Waynesville

I woke up in time to put on my clothes and walk up the street soon after the 7:00am opening of the Village Family Restaurant. I order the breakfast Combo #1, which included everything (eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast), and decided to add an a la carte pancake. This ended up being way too much food, and I couldn’t finish it all, but it was all good.

After heading back to the hotel, getting dressed to ride, re-packing everything else, and checking out, I ended up with the same start time of 9:00am as I had yesterday. There was a light, misty rain when I got started. I initially took this as a good thing, thinking “Oh, that will keep the heat and the beating sun away.”

I rode back through downtown Waynesville and the short stretch of road to the village of Corwin to get back onto the Little Miami Scenic Trail. A few miles in, I passed a male-and-female couple that appeared to be bike-touring, heading in the opposite direction. We didn’t stop; we were probably both thinking it best to keep moving and not stand around in the rain, but I later regretted not stopping to chat and get their story. Were they also on the Ohio to Erie Trail, or were they headed even further on the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route?

I confirmed that the re-calibration of my bike computer that I did last night was successful. The trail is marked in half-mile increments, and the distances indicated by these markings seemed to be spot-on with my computer.

I came to the end of the Little Miami Scenic Trail in Xenia, the hub of Southwest Ohio’s bicycle trail network, where five different trails converge at Xenia Station.

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Xenia Station bicycle hub in Xenia, Ohio

There is a water fountain to the right of the Xenia Station building, so I topped off my bottles. To the left is a do-it-yourself bike repair station, with a pump (presta and schrader compatible) and an assortment of tools. I took advantage of it to top off my tire in which I had replaced the tube late in my ride yesterday, plus made an adjustment to my rear derailer, which had been shifting a little wonky since the start of my ride yesterday.

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Do-it-yourself bike repair station at the Xenia Station bicycle hub

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Historic Baltimore & Ohio Railroad caboose near Xenia Station

The Ohio to Erie Trail continues from this point on the Prairie Grass Trail. From Xenia Station, you turn left onto Detroit Street, then make an immediate right onto Hill Street, then an immediate left onto the trail. However, there is a telephone pole on Detroit Street just before the corner of Hill Street, and there is a sign for the Ohio to Erie Trail on this pole. The sign has a two-part arrow on it; the first part goes straight ahead, then the second part of the arrow leans slightly to the left. (I wish I had taken a picture to better illustrate it.) Now, this sign might make sense if you were standing on the opposite side of Detroit Street and looking down Hill Street, but there is no street or trail coming from that direction. The sign makes no sense at all coming from the direction that people would be naturally coming from Xenia Station. This was one of only a couple of times where I found the Ohio to Erie Trail signage to be confusing and misleading. Now that I’ve done it, the correct way is obvious, and I could do it a hundred more times and it would obvious every time. But any sign is obvious if you already know the way; signs are supposed to be most helpful for those who DON’T already know the way.

Anyway, as I continued on the Prairie Grass Trail, the rain started to come down a little harder. I passed through the town of Cedarville, which looked like it would be a nice place for an overnight stop should you find yourself in that location at the right time. There’s a local restaurant right on the trail, a couple of coffee shops nearby, the local public library is right on the trail, and the Hearthstone Inn & Suites located right next to the trail, where they had a sign saying “Welcome Cyclists” next to a free water fountain (where I topped off my bottle once again).

The open plains of this part of the state make for some of the longest, straightest, and flatted sections of bike trail that I’ve ever seen.

The Prairie Grass Trail

The Prairie Grass Trail

The Prairie Grass Trail continues through the village of South Charleston with a brief on-road detour. I stopped at the trailhead for a bathroom break and to refill my water bottles once again.

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Historic cabooses at the Prairie Grass Trail access area in South Charleston, Ohio

As I made my way through town, I passed a group of cyclists near a van with a trailer attached. It looked like a supported touring group, so I stopped to ask them what they were up to. Turns out, they were a church-affiliated group doing a fund-raising ride to build an orphanage in Ukraine. I told them I was headed home to the Cleveland area on the Ohio to Erie Trail. They were doing a loop of their own creation between the Dayton and Cincinnati areas. Their organization is called Ends of the Earth Cycling, and you can find out more about them at: endscycling.com

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Meeting up with the Ends of the Earth Cycling group in South Charleston, Ohio

There were four riders in the group that I stopped to talk to, plus their two support drivers. They told me to keep an eye out for the eight other members of their group on the trail, heading the opposite direction from me. When I got back on the Prairie Grass Trail, I did see them soon after.

Before seeing this group of cyclists, the day was starting to wear on me. I usually don’t mind traveling alone, but the solitude was getting me down a little, plus the continuing rain probably didn’t help, either. Chatting with them gave me a second wind and much-needed mid-ride pick-me-up.

The Prairie Grass Trail ends in the town of London, which I chose as my lunch stop for the day.

Prairie Grass Trail access area in London, Ohio

Prairie Grass Trail access area in London, Ohio

At the trailhead, there was a convenient map listing the restaurants and other amenities in town. I chose Ronetti’s Pizza, as it seemed like a nice local option, located on Main Street near the center of town and on the bike route. I locked my bike up to a railing near the curb, and planted my soggy self at a table near the front window. I chose a fish sandwich, washed down with a Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale. The service was cheerful and efficient.

Back out in the saddle, the rain wasn’t showing many signs up letting up. I followed the Ohio to Erie Trail signs for the on-street connections, which led a few blocks to the Roberts Pass Trail. About halfway between London and Georgesville, this trail becomes the Camp Chase Trail. I came across this reminder of the journey still ahead of me somewhere along the way:

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Mileage marker on the Ohio to Erie Trail between London and Georgesville, Ohio

My journey on the Camp Chase Trail ended at the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. The Camp Chase Trail continues northeast from there, and nearby, the Darby Creek Trail goes north. I would be taking neither of these options, though, and going off-route from the Ohio to Erie Trail, as my destination for the evening was relatives’ house in the small village of Lockbourne, just outside of Grove City.

I had mapped out the route at home a week earlier, and had a hard-copy with me. I retrieved the printout from my trunk bag, folded it up, and put it in my jacket pocket. I hoped it would stay dry enough long enough to be useful for navigation.

The 14-mile route was a combination of lesser-traveled back roads and a couple stretches of very busy roads, mainly State Route 665, a.k.a. London-Groveport Road. This road is very narrow with very little shoulder, with lots of fast car and truck traffic. Add in the limited visibility with the rain, and needless to say, it was white-knuckle cycling.

The feelings about bicycling in the rain are kind of like the Five Stages of Grief. When I left Waynesville this morning, it was like Denial, or “Oh, this will be a nice change of pace.” By now, I had reached the Acceptance stage. When you are totally soaking wet, there’s no point in worrying about it any further, because you can’t get any more wet.

I reached my relatives’ house much to their relief as well as amusement at seeing my soaked self. My mileage for the day showed 68 miles. I suspected that was a little light; maybe the rain had gotten the sensor on my bike computer a little water-logged and worn the battery down a bit.

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The online route map shows about 72-1/2 miles. Either way, a hot shower, a home-cooked meal, and laundry were a welcome relief. Later, I peeled apart my other map printouts and route notes and laid them out on the garage floor to dry.

Ohio to Erie Trail Tour Day 2 from Waynesville to Lockbourne (click image for details)

Next: Ohio to Erie Trail Tour: Day 3 – Lockbourne to Howard

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Ohio to Erie Trail Tour: Day 1 – North Bend to Cincinnati to Waynesville

Back to Ohio to Erie Trail Tour: Prologue

I slept pretty well and woke up a little after 8:00am this morning. I re-packed my clothes, topped off my bike tires, and gave everything else a final check-over. I took off from Austin’s house right at 9:00am.

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Leaving my friend Austin’s house in North Bend.

The village of North Bend is the home of William Henry Harrison, 9th president of the US, and his tomb are right near the center of town, so I stopped for a photo op.

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The tomb of William Henry Harrison in North Bend, Ohio.

The main road between North Bend and downtown Cincinnati is a busy four-lane highway known as the Three Rivers Parkway, or US Route 50. Austin told me that many cyclists use this road, but I opted to play it safe a find a route that avoided it as much as possible. I rode on US 50 for about 2 miles out of North Bend, where much of it had a nice, wide shoulder. Near the neighborhood called Sayler Park, I detoured through a couple of local streets to make my way over to Hillside Avenue, which parallels US 50 for most of the way downtown. It’s a gently rolling road with very little motor vehicle traffic; I was passed by one, maybe two cars the whole time. There were some rough spots and patches of gravel, but nothing a Salsa Fargo couldn’t handle with ease.

Hillside Avenue ended back at US 50 about 2 miles short of downtown. There was little to no shoulder, and there still seemed to be some remnants of rush hour traffic, so I followed the sidewalk on the right side for much of the way, until the sidewalk was reduced to about 10 inches wide, so I jumped over the to left side and followed this until it took me to State Avenue, my first turnoff into downtown. From there it was a right onto 8th Street, and then proceeding on 7th Street. It was about 18 easy miles from my start into downtown.

My plan was to have breakfast here in town, and I had earlier located a First Watch restaurant. Locating this place ended up being the most difficult part of my whole day. The address was 700 Walnut Street, and that street was a cross street of 7th Street. I came to Walnut Street, and walked up and down a couple of blocks each way, not seeing the restaurant. I pulled out my phone on the corner of 7th and Walnut and tried using Google Maps walking directions. As soon as I tapped the “Start Navigation” button, it said “You have arrived.” I gave up and proceeded to continue east on 7th Street, and lo and behold, there it was about half a block up. I locked my bike bike to a pole outside and asked for a table near the front window so I could keep an eye on it.

The waiter took my order for coffee before I even sat down, but it was at least 10 minutes later, after I had ordered my meal, before I ever saw the coffee. Things went smoothly after that, though, and the pumpkin pancake special was delicious.

I continued on the bike over a few short streets to Yeatman’s Cove Park on the Ohio River, the official starting point of the Ohio to Erie Trail.

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Overlooking the Ohio River at Yeatman’s Cove Park.

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Looking back towards downtown Cincinnati from Yeatman’s Cove Park.

The next part of the ride was the one I had been most worried about — getting out of downtown Cincinnati. This ended up being easy-peasy. From Yeatman’s Cove Park, you turn right onto Pete Rose Way, and follow the signs for Bicycle Route 1. It’s a combination of roads and paved bike path, actually more bike path than I expected. It’s back on US Route 50 for a couple of stretches, including a busy 2-lane stretch through the upscale community of Mariemont, and a 4-lane stretch after that, but I found all of the drivers to be careful and courteous. In short order, I made my way onto the Little Miami Scenic Trail at the intersection of US Route 50 and Newtown Road, a few miles south of Milford.

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The Little Miami Scenic Trail near the intersection of US Route 50 and Newtown Road.

I pedaled the few miles to Milford, and decided to detour through town to browse some of the shops, including Bishop’s Bicycles and Roads River and Trails outdoor store, where I bought the only major item I forgot to pack, a tube of lip balm.

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The trailhead for the Little Miami Scenic Trail at Milford, Ohio

I got back on the trail and headed north to my lunch destination of Loveland, passing under this view of Interstate 275 along the way.

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Interstate 275 over the Little Miami Scenic Trail

Also passed by this nice Miami Riverview Park on the way.

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Miami Riverview Park along the Little Miami Scenic Trail

Loveland is one of those sleepy old towns that has seen revitalization as a direct result of the bike trail. There are several restaurants right on the trail, as well as a bike shop (Montgomery Cyclery). I chose to stop at Julian’s Deli & Spirits for my lunch, with trailside bike parking, and a good selection of sandwiches and bottled craft beers. After an Avocado Ranch Panini and a Fat Tire Ale, I was back on my way up the trail.

During the next several miles, I saw signs along the trail that said something to the effect that the trail would be closed “on selected weekdays” between 7:00am and 5:00pm, September and October, between mile 30 and mile 30.5 near Grandin Road. The trail mileage is marked every half-mile, so I paid attention as I got near this point. I saw other people riding in the opposite direction of me coming from that point, so I assumed that meant it was open. That assumption was wrong, however, as I got here:

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Closed section of the Little Miami Scenic Trail near Grandin Road

This was the first of many cases where Google Maps proved invaluable during my trip. I back-tracked just a bit on the trail, and found an access trail (paved but rather steep) that led to a new housing development. I followed the streets of the development, which eventually led me to Grandin Road. I wasn’t sure, however, if Grandin Road was within or beyond the closed section of the trail, so to play it safe, I went the other way and used Google Maps again to find another access point beyond that. Grandin Road led to State Route 48, which I took to another housing development and golf course community, which had another paved access trail back down the ridge to the main trail.

A few miles up, I started to get that squishy bike handling feeling, which is confusing at first, until you realize that it’s a sign of a flat tire. Sure enough, my rear tire was flat. I assumed that the numerous bits of glass that I had seen along the shoulders of the roads around Cincinnati had finally caught up to me, but I didn’t find any glass shards in the tire itself. A spare tube and 15 minutes later I was rolling again.

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Post-ride relaxing at the Creekwood Motel in Waynesville, Ohio

More miles of trail eventually found me in the village of Corwin, where it was a short half-mile road detour to the town of Waynesville and the Creekwood Motel, my destination for the evening. Check-in was without incident, and I showered and relaxed for a bit before heading out to find dinner in town.

My bike computer showed almost 81 miles for the day, which I thought was high based on when I planned my route earlier, even accounting for the detour around the trail closure.

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Almost 81 miles registered for Day of of the Ohio to Erie Trail

I realized this was because I had forgotten to re-calibrate the computer after switching from the 29er tires to the 700×41 tires yesterday. I pulled up the Cat Eye tire size chart on my phone, which has entries for a 700×40 and 700×42, so I split the difference and entered a wheel circumference of 2212. I’ll see tomorrow how close this comes, but based on my route on MapMyRide.com, the actual distance for today was about 73 miles.

Ohio to Erie Trail Tour Day 1 from North Bend to Waynesville, Ohio (click image for details)

I went to the Stone House Tavern for dinner. Their menu had a lot of interesting sandwiches, but then the New York Strip Steak dinner caught my eye, and it was very reasonably priced, so I went for it, with calamari fries and snap peas for the two included side dishes. The steak was cooked perfectly medium. I paired the dinner with a Hippie Trail IPA, a collaboration between Warped Wing Brewery and Yellow Springs Brewery.

When the server came back to ask me about dessert, I thought I was already too stuffed, but then she mentioned that they had cinnamon roll bread pudding. I’m a sucker for bread pudding, so I had to go for it again, washed down with a local pumpkin ale.

Next: Ohio to Erie Trail Tour: Day 2 – Waynesville to Lockbourne

Ohio to Erie Trail Tour: Prologue

Back to Gear List: Credit-card Bikepacking the Ohio to Erie Trail

Today was my travel day prior to starting my bicycle tour on the Ohio to Erie Trail. I started out by getting up early to make some last-minute changes to my bike setup.

During a short ride yesterday, I heard a rattling noise that I assumed at first was my fenders. At some point, I looked down, and noticed my dynamo headlight hanging by the connector cable. The mounting tab on the light had snapped off. This may have been my fault; during a ride home from work a couple of weeks ago, I had to adjust the angle of the light, and, not having the required torx wrench used on the mounting bolts, I just man-handled it into place.

Regardless, I would have to be without a dynamo light for the trip, and thus without the USB charging feature that it also provides. Since I would have no use for the generator hub, I figured I may as well swap to my lighter-weight wheels. I was going to swap the tires, to continue using the Serfas Drifter 29er tires, but I already had a pair of Surly Knard 700×41 tires mounted on the lighter wheels, so I decided to stick with those for the trip.

Since I was switching into semi-weight-weenie mode, I decided to ditch the fenders, as well.

I didn’t anticipate having to do any riding at night, but just in case, I brought a rechargeable headlight, the Cygolite Metro 300, plus a Planet Bike Superflash Turbo USB taillight. If either saw much use during the day, I’d have the opportunity to charge them at night (with the USB charging cable that I remembered to pack).

If you read my gear list, you’ll notice these changes in subsequent posts and photos. A final significant change to my packing list was the maps. Over a month ago, I ordered a copy of the official Ohio to Erie Trail Maps from IGotABike.com. When doing my final packing a few days ago, I could not for the life of me find them. Fortunately, my friend Chris from work had ordered the downloadable PDF version a couple of weeks ago, so he provided me a copy to use.

My brother arrived a little after 9:00am with his mini-van to haul me down to Cincinnati. We made a stop for lunch at a Waffle House just off I-71 north of Columbus. We made good time during the rest of the drive to Cincinnati, and arrived at the Biowheels bike shop a little after 2:00pm.

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With my lightly loaded Salsa Fargo at Biowheels in Cincinnati

My friend Austin used to work with me at Century Cycles in Peninsula. He moved to the Cincy area last year, and now works at Biowheels. I hung around and chatted with him and his boss Mitch, and went to get us some coffee down the street at Coffee Please.

Austin took off early around 4:00pm, and we loaded my bike into the back of his Jeep and headed across town to his place in the small village of North Bend, about 18 miles down-river from downtown Cincinnati. After getting settled in, we decided to join his mom for a short hike around Fernbank Park just a few miles back up the road, followed by dinner at Cabana on the River. It was the final day of business before the restaurant closed for the season, so they were offering 30% off our entire bill, which was a nice deal. All three of us ended up getting fish & chips, where were good. It seemed like they might usually have a decent beer selection, but their stock was winding down, so I had to settle for a Guiness as the closest thing to a decent-tasting beer.

Later, back at their house, the clouds parted just in time as we watched the lunar eclipse from their front porch. The clouds returned soon after, though, so we weren’t able to see the “blood moon.”

Next: Ohio to Erie Trail Tour: Day 1 – North Bend to Cincinnati to Waynesville

Gear List: Credit-card Bikepacking the Ohio to Erie Trail

Gear laid out before heading for a credit-card bikepacking trip on the Ohio to Erie Trail

I’m getting ready to do a bicycle trip on the Ohio to Erie Trail. I’ll be riding from Cincinnati to Cleveland over five days. I’ll be staying in a motel one night, staying with relatives or friends two nights, and using contacts from Warm Showers another two nights. I won’t need any camping gear, so I’m packing pretty light.

The weather is supposed to be pretty pleasant, so for clothing, I’m able to save a lot of space by choosing cycling clothing that can double as casual clothing, and vice-versa.

I could have gone rack-less in true bikepacking style, but since most of my stuff fits in a trunk bag, I decided to use that. I have a Topeak MTX Explorer Tubular 29er Rear Disc rack. The Topeak bags work well with the rack to easily slide on and off, so I figured that would make it easy to take most of my stuff with me off the bike, should I feel that’s necessary. I’m using a small frame bag for a couple of extra items.

Wearing or carrying on my body:

  • Helmet
  • Cycling gloves
  • Bib shorts
  • Baggy knickers
  • Long-sleeve lightweight wool jersey
  • Socks
  • Buff headband
  • Road ID
  • Waterproof wallet
  • Lip balm
  • Prescription sunglasses

Inside Revelate Designs Tangle Small Frame Bag:

  • Chain lock
  • Mini-pump
  • Digital camera
  • Smartphone with waterproof case and charger
  • GU Brew electrolyte tablets
  • Clif bars

Inside Topeak MTX EXP trunk bag with panniers:

  • Bib shorts
  • Socks (2)
  • Wool t-shirt
  • Underwear
  • Lightweight fleece sweatshirt
  • Toiletry kit (travel-sizes of toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant)
  • 35mm film cannister as a pill bottle (pain relievers, anti-histamines, multi-vitamins)
  • Sunscreen
  • Body sponge and travel-size liquid body wash soap
  • Pack towel
  • Rain jacket
  • Lightweight windbreaker jacket/vest
  • Crocs shoes
  • Spare eyeglasses
  • Headlamp
  • Spare inner tube
  • Bike tool kit (inside Forest City Portage tool pouch):
    • Hex wrench set
    • Flat/phillips screwdriver
    • Chain tool with spoke wrenches
    • Leatherman multi-tool
    • Glueless patch kit
    • Tire boots
    • Spare derailer cable
    • Spare rack bolts, cleat bolts, chain links, master link
    • Tri-Flow lube sample size (2)
    • Small roll of duct tape
    • Rag
    • GoJo wipe for cleanup

I’ll be riding my Salsa Fargo bike. In addition to the Topeak rack, I have the Planet Bike Cascadia 29er fenders on it should the weather turn wet. I put two bottle cages on the fork mounts, plus a third bottle using the Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag.

Salsa Fargo packed for a trip on the Ohio to Erie Trail

I have a Schmidt SON28 front dynamo hub and a Busch & Muller Luxos U headlight, which has a USB port on the remote handlebar switch, so I’ll be able to use that to keep my phone charged throughout the riding days. I use a Planet Bike SuperFlash Turbo USB taillight.

Next: Ohio to Erie Trail Tour: Prologue

Photos from Cleveland Camp Coffee #3

Two of our past regulars could not make it today, but we had three new faces. Maybe this thing is taking off after all? Stay tuned for next month!

Cleveland Camp Coffee #3

20150513-clecampcoffee-2Inspired by #LARiverCampCoffee (http://bit.ly/1NUfQlY), the movement for mini-adventures in Cleveland for when we don’t have time for real adventures continues!

#CLECampCoffee is a casual gathering for lovers of bicycles, camping, and coffee.

Arrive by bike, and use your camp-cooking gear to make coffee for yourself and to share, and enjoy conversation with your fellow campers.

The rules aren’t strictly enforced, so you can come by foot or car if you like, and you can stop for coffee at a (preferably local) shop on the way. Tea and hot chocolate drinkers are welcome, too!

When: Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 8:00am
Where: The Beach on the Cuyahoga River

To get to “The Beach on the Cuyahoga River,” start at the Harvard Avenue trailhead of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, go south about 1.3 miles, then turn right onto the Six Mile Flats Loop Trail. Go across the bridge, the bushwhack over to the sandy shore of the river.

Check for updates on the Event page on Facebook.

Bicycling in Pittsburgh – Memorial Day 2015

Took a road trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Memorial Day to ride some of the local streets, bike paths, and mountain bike trails, including the South Side, Schenley Park, Squirrel Hill, Frick Park, Highland Park, and Lawrenceville. Stopped for lunch at Pamela’s Diner in Squirrel Hill, beers at The Church Brew Works, and dinner at the Double Wide Grill. The also included the North Shore and downtown, but the battery in my Garmin Virb camera quit in Lawrenceville.

Photos from Cleveland Camp Coffee #2

Cleveland Camp Coffee #2

20150415-clecampcoffee-2Inspired by #LARiverCampCoffee (http://bit.ly/1NUfQlY), the movement for mini-adventures in Cleveland for when we don’t have time for real adventures continues!

#CLECampCoffee is a casual gathering for lovers of bicycles, camping, and coffee.

Arrive by bike, and use your camp-cooking gear to make coffee for yourself and to share, and enjoy conversation with your fellow campers.

The rules aren’t strictly enforced, so you can come by foot or car if you like, and you can stop for coffee at a (preferably local) shop on the way. Tea drinkers are welcome, too!

When: Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 8:00am
Where: The Towpath Trail boardwalk along the Beaver Marsh in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Meet around 7:30am at Century Cycles in Peninsula if you want to join a short ride down. A couple of us may continue south on the Towpath Trail for a longer day ride.

Check for updates on the Event page on Facebook.

Trip Report: Cleveland Camp Coffee #1

Other than a little miscommunication about out group’s start time to ride into town, the first Cleveland Camp Coffee was a success, with three participants. If anyone showed up at 7:00am, we’re sorry we missed you; we got there a little after 8:00am. Stay tuned for details about the next gathering!