Never Been Out of the Cul de Sac


My grandsons haven’t been riding bikes long. So my daughter, Bethany, sort of freaked out when I told her I would take them on a 4-mile ride on the W&OD Trail. “They’ve never been out of the Cul de Sac” she said.

I tried the calming response. “They would be with me.” Didn’t help much.

But they all came around to it We met right off the trail at Simpson Circle near Clarks Gap. I sat down with the boys and gave them my safety talk. We will stop at stop signs. There are only three on this route but I would go into the intersection, wearing my neon-green safety vest, and stand while they crossed. Don’t cross the yellow line unless we have to pass a walker or runner and then I would go first.

Aiden and Andy 1st Ride_05
Aiden, followed by Andy, going under Rte 9 at Clarks Gap

Aiden, 6, went off first. He takes to riding like he does most things athletically. He is pretty good and you have to protect him from himself. Bethany said sarcastically “we are working on building his confidence.” Andy, 8, is a little unsteady on the bike. Maybe he resembles his mother in that respect as she was slow to learn and then unsteady. That’s why we abandoned our ride ride half way down Cadillac Mountain when she was nine years old.

Aiden and Andy 1st Ride_03

After a mile we came to a little uphill portion at Clarks Gap. Andy walked it. His seat was way too low and I adjusted it so he could get some power from his legs. Then we began the downhill.

Aiden and Andy 1st Ride_04
Andy with Aiden far ahead down the trail

This is a three mile stretch that goes to Leesburg. Some pedaling is necessary though but it’s easy pedaling. We stayed in our lines the entire way down. The trail isn’t crowded at this point and the few people who passed us generally encouraged the boys.

Aiden and Andy 1st Ride_02

We reached Catoctin Circle where Bethany was waiting for us. Then we went to lunch at Andy’s Pizza in Leesburg. Both boys said it was too easy and they wanted to ride more. Good boys!




My Ride For Dad


We got devastating news this morning. Meeting with team doctors from Conemaugh Hospital, they broke the news to us that my dad, who fell three weeks ago, had a 5% chance of walking again. It was a punch in the gut.


As we were left to process this I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather. It was in the high 50s, a bit on the cool side, but a sunny day. After seemingly weeks of rain, it was a welcome change.


I pulled into a Sheetz parking lot. I bought a water then asked the manager if I could park for 90 minutes and go for a ride. She said “of course” and told me she remembered me from last year.

Manager (in black) who helped me out

This is my go-to route. My happy place. I first rode it seven years ago as my escape from battling cancer. It was the one challenge that could take my mind of cancer.


The ride is gorgeous. Three lakes, a 200-foot tunnel, then a 4-mile climb with an 18% wall that continues for half a mile. What a great ride.

Blue lake and orange mine drain water. They don’t mix.

I approached Horseshoe Curve and something was missing. Trees. They had clear-cut the area around the curve. It was disappointing. I went inside the gift shop at Horseshoe Curve. I asked about the clear-cutting and the young woman inside told me they had a grant to remove all the trees. She mentioned Norfolk-Southern but I didn’t pick up if the railroad drove the removal or not. It was hard to see the trains passing through before the trees were cut.

Lake 3. Horseshoe Curve in background. Clear cut.

I went through the tunnel and the climb began in earnest. I had come to escape the thoughts of my dad not walking but it didn’t work. There was a strong wind in my face before the tunnel and all I could think of was my dad. Wind in your face is nothing to curse but to praise. What I would give so that he could have the wind in his face.


I started the climb. I brought the wrong bike. My other bike is geared better for climbing steep climbs. But I said I could do this.

Horseshoe Curve and some mine water drainage

I went up the climb, legs burning, just hoping my dad could feel pain in his legs. That maybe my pain could help his. He was on my mind all the way up the climb.


At the summit, I rode over to Tunnel Hill. I looked and thought the time was already one hour in and I was halfway done. No way I would be back in 90 minutes total.

The Wall. Much steeper than it looks.

I started down Sugar Run Road. I thought of my post-cancer ride with Scott Scudamore and how we bombed this descent. Twice. I was hitting 45 mph. There were some crosswinds. But it was a great ride back down the mountain.

I did get back in less than 90 minutes. My go-to ride was nice but it did not get me thinking less about my dad. The reality set in that our ride in October was probably our last ride together.

Little Miami Scenic Trail II


I left this morning for Pennsylvania with another bad weather forecast but surprisingly, as I passed Springfield, it was dry but mostly sunny. The weather forecast was showing a couple of hours with only a 15% chance of rain. I parked at Beatty Station just south of I-70 in Springfield.


It was 9:00. I met a guy named Dave getting his bike out. We chatted briefly. He told me he was waiting for his group. They would ride to Yellow Springs and back. He also volunteered that I might see them on the trail.


I headed north to Springfield. I wanted to see how far the trail would go. No far, I learned. When it became a signed road route I decided to turn around and ride south.


I passed Dave and his cycling friends still getting ready. The trail here is wooded. There are few intersections and just a straight wooded trail. Very pretty. In this section , unlike the southern section, it does not follow the Little Miami River.


Five miles in a came to Yellow Springs. My impression was this was a Bohemiam community. The downtown had neat buildings including a lot of art shops.


I continued on the trail. I went under a pretty neat covered bridge. The smell of lilacs permeated the woods.


I arrived in Xenia then turn around. Or maybe the outskirts of Xenia. But I wanted to get back to Pennsylvania and this was far enough.


On my return I found the covered bridge and decided to jump on the road. I was disappointed to discover the covered bridge was just two years old (2014). Oh well. It will be historical in 98 years.


In Yellow Springs I caught the cycling club. I had gone to Xenia. They had gone to Yellow Springs, one third of the distance I had ridden. I saw Dave again and then made my way through the group and eventually back to the car.


This trail is the third longest paved trail in the U.S. at almost 80 miles. It would be fun to come back and ride the entire route.


Great Miami River Trail Part II


I began the day riding part of the Great Miami River Trail in Dayton. That did not go so well as the trails next to the river in Dayton were covered with mud and/or under construction.

Great Miami Trail between Troy and Piqua
Great Miami Trail between Troy and Piqua

That led me to this tried and true route (once before). I parked in Troy and headed to Piqua. The trail in this section is in great shape. Great asphalt and no roots. There were two puddles one had to go through caused by all the rain of the last 10 days.

Miami-Erie Canal (on left) - Photo Aug 2015
Miami-Erie Canal (on left) – Photo Aug 2015

Towards the end of the trail I passed a watered section of the Erie – Miami Canal. Then I head out Hardin Road to Lockington.

Barn on N. Hardin Road
Barn on N. Hardin Road

I passed the Lockington Dam which has certainly fallen into disrepair. But I guess it lasted 80 years.

Lockington Dam
Lockington Dam

I stopped briefly and posed for a photo in front of the house where I lived 50 years ago. A teenage girl walked by with her mother or grandmother.

Lockington, Ohio – 1966. Brenda, Bernie, Betsy (being held), Naomi, Brad, Harry, Barry

I almost asked the older woman if she lived in the house next door 50 years ago but they were engaged and I missed that opportunity. But it was 50 years ago on the same sidewalk that I remember my dad sitting on my bike.

Old E.U.B. Church Parsonage, Lockington, Ohio
Old E.U.B. Church Parsonage, Lockington, Ohio

The road back in to Piqua was in great shape and surprisingly little traffic. Fifty years ago I would ride my bike on this road and not even be aware of cars. I guess when you’re 10-12 years old you don’t think about that those things. You just know cars won’t hit you. Or you just don’t think about it.


In Piqua I crossed the Great Miami River on N. Main Street. This is a pretty city. A neat downtown and a beautiful old building, the “Orr-Statler Block” building.


The Great Miami Trail is a river trail that comes into the city. There is also a rail-trail, Piqua’s linear park. The old Pennsylvania Rail Road (then Conrail) ran east-west and crossed town via a high trestle. There are stairs leading up to the trestle which one can bike across.

Entrance to the trestle at Linear Park
Entrance to the trestle at Linear Park

Trestle at Linear Park
Trestle at Linear Park

Leaving town to the south, one passes a waste water treatment plant. Not observant enough to take a photo of sewage, I noticed what looked to be an atomic dome. This was apparently the location for the first municipal atomic plant in the 1960s. Piqua was the first atomic powered city although that didn’t last long.

Bridge over Great Miami River, Piqua
Bridge over Great Miami River, Piqua

The last five miles back to Troy were pleasant. On this section of the trail one can make out an area next to the trail that was the old Miami-Erie Canal.


It has been reclaimed by the forest but the unnatural depression in the earth gives it away. This section was a much better section than in the city of Dayton. This was a nice trail and great diversion to the Lockington Loop.

Great Miami River Trail Part I


I was excited about riding the Great Miami River Trail in the Dayton area. I wanted to ride next to the river and find the Wright Cycle Co., the historical museum site for the Wright Brothers.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

I  also wanted to visit the Dayton National Cemetery. I have two distant relatives buried there and my cousin, Patricia Lawmaster, posted that yesterday would have been her mother’s 93rd birthday. I wanted to get some photos for my genealogical database and for Patricia.

Stella Ruth Gallagher, Patricia's mother
Stella Ruth Gallagher, Patricia’s mother

I thought I would park at Deeds Carillon Park in Dayton. I figured it was safe and, as an added bonus, was probably 50 years since we visited as a family. It might be neat to see it again.


Ashley Snow (R), National Geographic's American Genius
Ashley Snow (R), National Geographic’s American Genius

I drove out to the Dayton National Cemetery. I found my gravestones then headed towards Deeds Carillon Park. On the way I looked up and was besides the Wright Brothers’ Museum. It was a no-brainer, I would park there. There would be no Deeds Park for me today.


Last year National Geographic aired a series called American Genius. The episode called “The Contest for Human Flight” documented the Wright Brothers vs Glenn Curtiss “the World’s Fastest Human.” My daughter, Ashley Snow, had a cameo appearance walking past the Wright’s bicycle shop. I knew I needed a photo in the same location.

Period house down the block. Not sure if it’s 120 years old or made to look like it.

I went into the visitor center and as greeted by a nice government worker wearing a beige and green uniform. She told me that this museum was covered the Wright Bros. up to their flight at Kitty Hawk. There was another museum across town that covered post flight Wright Bros. She also told me that in all, Orville and Wilbur owned five different bike shops at different times.

One must cross Wolf Creek as it flows into the Great Miami River on this narrow path

She called another ranger, Casey, to come open up the shop for me to tour. I wish I had asked a question about the history of the building. Which shop was this? Then what, store? Warehouse? Residence? Vacant Building? What involved in getting it restored? Oh well, maybe I have to go back.

Building a river experience

After touring the Museum, I headed out to find the trail. I only went a few blocks before I was at the river. I found stairs down and then started up the trail. Many blocks in this area were closed but this was open. I didn’t go far before I saw how crappy the trail was. Rocks. Mud. Three to four inches deep at times. It was not enjoyable and I soon climbed out of the river basin.

Rough pavement ahead

I made my way into the city of Dayton although it was more like dipping my toes in Lake Erie. I didn’t see much. I found the trail on the east side of the river and it was torn up too.

This section trashed my bike

But I finally found a way out on the trail and rode north. I knew I’d be riding later in the day and didn’t want to go too far. The trail became more remote. The farther from the city the better it was.

Dayton, Ohio

I passed a golf course named Kitty Hawk G.C. Wonder if North Carolina knows?


I turned around. I mostly retraced my ride back to the Wright Bros. Museum. Once finished it was off to find my favorite part of Dayton – Skyline Chili.




Little Miami Scenic Trail I


The weather here, and in most of the East, has been bad. It rained all day yesterday and initially was forecast to rain all day today. But at 8:00 when it was still dry I called my friend, Bob Berberich, and told him if we met by 9:00 we could get in two hours’ of riding before the rain.

Loveland, Ohio

Bob suggested we meet in Loveland, Ohio and off I went. This is a lovely old town which begs for more exploration but not today. We met and Bob showed me the Little Miami Scenic Trail.

LMT_1_02 LMT_1_03

The Little Miami Scenic Trail is a rail trail that follows the route of the old Little Miami Railroad. In this section, which we rode to Morrow, the trail followed the Little Miami River.




Very pretty. The trail was in excellent shape. Great pavement, no roots.



About two miles from our return it started to rain. No worries. I got out my rain jacket but never put it on. Just a light rain and we got out two hours in before the heavy stuff would come.



After a good ride it was time for some post-ride nourishment. When in Cincinnati, you must go to Skyline Chili.


Skyline Chili – 3-Way

Insert Map


Please Don’t Shoot Me


Seven years ago, almost to the day, I parked in East Freedom and rode up Blue Knob for the first time. Today’s circumstance would be different.

I was traveling to visit my father in the hospital in Johnstown and I thought this would be a nice way to honor him. Needing gas, I filled up at the Sheetz in East Freedom and then requested permission to leave my car for 90 minutes for a ride. Permission granted.

East Freedom 01

I rode over to the house that we lived in in 1958-1961. I took a couple of pictures then headed up Rte 164 towards Portage. The climb begins almost immediately although the first couple of miles it is mostly in the 3-4% range.

East Freedom 02

It is a highway, but a mountain highway. The road has no shoulders but relatively little traffic and all gave me a wide berth when passing. The upper portions seemed to hold steady in the 10-12% grade but with the curves none of the traffic was going too fast either.

East Freedom 03

At the top I stopped for a photo op with Lady Liberty. The surprise is no longer there as it was seven years ago but it’s nice to take a picture.

East Freedom 04

From the top it’s all downhill to Newry. The road was a little rough but a nice ride. I wore arm warmers and was glad as it was a little chilly on the descent.

I continued past Newry to Reservoir Road then headed back to East Freedom. It wasn’t a long ride, just 21 miles, but all that I had time for. One good mountain climb and a quick visit to one of my childhood homes.

I drove to Somerset, picked up my mother, then we went to Johnstown. In the hospital I showed my dad the picture of that house and he was glad to see it. That made the ride very worthwhile.