Traveling from Somerset to Indianapolis, I looked for a location where I could stop and ride. But this was more than a place to ride. Fifty years ago I lived out here and I thought it would be fun to go back and see where I used to live.
I looked for trails in the area and found the Great Miami River Trail. This is one worth exploring later. It is a paved trail more than 85 miles in length. I didn’t have time to ride far so planned my trip starting in Troy.
I planned to start at Treasure Island Park. I arrived and found it was close for construction. I parked on the street instead.
I started by riding north on the road. When I came to where the trail crossed I jumped on the trail. It is in great shape. Paved. Wooded. With the exception of crossing the river, I was surprised the trail was set back far enough that I wasn’t riding next to the river, in fact, wasn’t aware there was a river nearby.
At Piqua there is a bridge crossing. The approach going north is by 8-10 stairs with a rail in the middle that serves as a tire trough if you want to push your bike. Once I crossed the river I then followed the river through and past Piqua. The trail is next to the river which has a very high embankment so I could never tell I was actually in the city.
The trail disappears alongside the old Miami-Erie canal, a good portion which is still full of water. At the end of town the trail was under construction and I rode through about 100 yards of grass (to avoid 100 yards of the gravel trail).
I jumped on the road and took Rte 66 (not THAT Route 66) to Houston. The road was fine (meaning it had a shoulder) in Miami County. But once entering Shelby County there was no shoulder. Traffic was extremely light but when it passed me it often was extremely close. I did not like riding this road.
Although it was almost 50 years since I attended the Hardin-Houston school, I had no problem finding my way to it. On the road out of there I passed kids running and figured (correctly) that they were cross country runners. I turned around and road about 200 yards with two girls. I told them I went to the school 50 years ago and this was my first time back. They were not impressed.
I rode down to Lockington, unsure if I could take my bike across the Lockington Dam. Although I hadn’t returned to Houston in (almost) 50 years, I refereed a tournament in Sidney, Ohio in 2007 and visited Lockington then.
The road across the dam was no longer open, and my memory escapes that there was still a road across the top. There was an entrance and a parking lot in 2007 but as I rolled up I saw that the park was closed. Disappointing. I was hoping to ride across the dam.
I rode up through Lockington, with most of the houses unchanged since we moved in 1967. The parsonage where we lived was now connected to the church my dad served although it closed.
I visited the locks we used to play in, many looked to be in danger of collapse in the 1960s but are still standing. I was surprised to see someone has been rebuilding the first lock.
I rode back into Piqua really enjoying the quaint downtown of this city of 20,000. Although I thought I would roll right through town and back to Troy I did a U-turn when I saw the railroad bridge.
The east-west bridge was the old Pennsylvania Rail Road bridge which was abandoned in 1985. It is now a bike trail named Linear Park. A number of steps with a concrete trough for walking bikes leads up to the bridge. I pushed my bike up then rode across the bridge and followed the trail.
The best I can tell, I had biked here before – 50 years ago. The B&O tracks run north-south and the PRR ran east-west. I remember being with a couple of other kids (don’t know who) and this was a grade crossing of railroad lines. You don’t see those much and I didn’t see it here since it no longer exists. But I am 100% convinced it did in the 60s. In fact, I found a couple of references to it including this one:
“This station was hastily built in October 1913 when the PRR told the CH&D they would not be using their new downtown Piqua passenger station when the elevation opened. So the CH&D rapidly built a box station north of the crossing at Garbry Road.” – http://www.west2k.com/ohstations/miami.shtml
I’m not crazy. There was an at grade crossing of tracks in Piqua although there is no evidence of that now. But it was great to ride over to it.
My ride back to Troy was uneventful. Although I planned to take the road back, I enjoyed the trail so much I followed it again. I even opted to follow it when I was just a couple miles from the car and just a straight shot away.
The Great Miami River Trail is really cool. Add to that a 50-mile reminiscing of my childhood and it couldn’t get much better. And 75 degrees, no clouds, and no humidity didn’t hurt.