Day 18: Seymour,IN – Cedarville,OH , distance-177miles , climbing – 4577 feet
The hotel from the previous night was a total disaster. At least I as was able to sleep, shower and regroup. Traffic was bad when entering town at dawn so I wanted to be on my way out before sunrise. Ohio was only 75 miles away and I was looking forward to it. Michel in the meantime was about 400 miles ahead and Barry another 40 miles ahead of him. It was frustrating to fall behind this much but also expected after all the issues I had. After crossing the Mississippi river 3 days ago, I had two really bad days and was loosing ground.
The morning was damp and humid but I was happy to still be in the game after 17 days. With every mile, the excitement was building while approaching the east coast.
There were few steep but short climbs right before the border with Ohio and near Hidden Valley Golf Course in Lawrenceburg, IN. I was flying down the big descent on Alpine Drive and enjoying myself to the fullest. As the road flatten out, a couple of landscaping trucks flagged me to stop. What I thought was some people who will complain about where and how I bike, turned out to be one of the most pleasant meetups during the event. Apparently, a man by the name Robert was following me on the descent and really wanted to talk to me. He looked just like my late grandfather who I have some fond memories while growing up. He was a huge fan of cycling and regularly travels to Europe to watch the Gran Tours. Upon departure, he reached out in his pocket and handed me $100 bill, I couldn’t believe it. I tried refusing few times , but he insisted. Little did he know that my bank account was nearly empty and I wasn’t sure how many more nights in hotels I can afford.
Shortly after meeting with Robert, I was already in Ohio and entered Cincinnati. Although I had to deal with some city traffic, the town was really amazing and full of life. I wish there was time for food and drinks while watching live concerts at the Sawyer Point Park & Yeatman’s Cove. What a difference this was compared to the emptiness in the wild west. . . There were so many people east of the Missisipi river that it took some time getting used to it.
The Ohio River runs to the south of the town and the views were stunning.
Jersey & Bibis by Owayo Custom Apparel
Soon thereafter, I was finally on the Ohio to Earie trail. With length of 329 miles, this must be the longest trail of the race. ( We are not riding the entire length). In addition, it was well maintained and fully paved. Most of the time, it was covered by vegetation on both sides and that really helped with the sun and wind.
Another positive was the presence of businesses nearby. My daily struggle of finding food and water was less of a worry. The riders on the trail were super friendly and on many occasions we started short conversations about my adventure. As usual, most were in disbelief, impressed, not believing or questioning my sanity.
Another downpour followed but this time, it was short lived. I took cover in a nearby shelter and met with a local cyclist who worked for the trail system. He insisted on interviewing me for the local newspaper. It was pretty cool to do old school interview with questions and answers on a piece of paper 🙂
The goal for tonight was the famous Hearthstone Inn & Suites in Cedarville, OH managed by Stuart. He as a big fan of the race and the hotel was conveniently located along the race route. It was early afternoon and I had 100 miles left to go.
Right outside of Cincinnati, I passed by the charming Loveland, OH. Apparently a getaway town for the wealthy:
In its early days, Loveland was known as a resort town, with its summer homes for the wealthy, earning it the nickname “Little Switzerland of the Miami Valley.”
Further north on the trail, I passed by Xenia, OH. Luckily, I was not caught in any nasty storms here:
The town have a history of severe storm activity. According to local legend, the Shawnee referred to the area as “the place of the devil wind” or “the land of the crazy winds” (depending upon the translation). On April 3, 1974, a tornado rated F5 on the Fujita scale cut a path directly through the middle of Xenia during the 1974 Super Outbreak, the second largest series of tornadoes in recorded history. The disaster killed 34 people (including two Ohio National Guardsmen who died days later in a related fire), injured an additional 1,150, destroyed almost half of the city’s buildings, and left 10,000 people homeless. Five schools, including Xenia High School, Central Junior High School, McKinley Elementary, Simon Kenton Elementary, and Saint Brigid Catholic School were destroyed, as were nine churches and 180 businesses.
As the sun went down, I was closing in on my target. With some wind at my back, I was flying and eating up ground like a hungry man. Maybe I was a little too excited and careless, resulting in another crash. The dirt on the side of the trail helped for soft landing and my jersey looked like I was playing with pigs. There was no damages to me or the bike except hurting my ego.
Moments later, I was blinded by some a serious headlight. It was fellow cyclist ( velonaught) Bracy who was waiting for me outside of Cedarville, OH. He mentioned that he will try to keep up with me for a bit while I was assuring him that my speed is not what it used to be.
Jersey & Bibis by Owayo Custom Apparel
We split on the next intersection and not long after that, I was in Cedarville. There were videos from the welcoming of the top two racers on social media and my experience was similar. The manager of the hotel was out on the street to greet me and take pictures by a whiteboard with my name and remaining distance to the finish. It was truly a very special moment. As we entered the lobby, I was briefly interviewed by Stuart for the Facebook group of the race. We talked about eastern Europe as we both share roots from that part of the world. The hotel lobby was impressive and designed by the manager/owner himself. It contained a lot of pictures and artefacts showing the history of US and this little town.
There was no guest laundry but I was offered to drop my clothes at the lobby and they were going to assist me with that. Breakfast was starting at 7 am but due to my desire of early departure, I was going to miss it. Stuart was kind enough to ask what I want for breakfast and was going to leave it out for me at 6 am. Huge thank you to the staff at the Hearthstone Inn & Suites. As I opened my door in the morning, my laundry was neatly placed nearby. The experience here was outstanding.
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