My cousin Mark greets me with open arms and an open minivan door in the cool town of Loveland on the Ohio to Erie Trail northeast of Cincinnati. I spend the next six days with family who generously take me out for all meals and drive me 15 miles to downtown Cincinnati whenever I need to go, such as to meet with Cincy Red Bike, the local bike share operator, or meet a writer and photographer collaborating on this article about me.
Here’s a look at what I did in the wonderful city of Cincinnati:
John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
Forerunner to the longer and more famous Brooklyn Bridge designed by the same German-born American architect, John Roebling (who lost the bid to design the Wheeling Suspension Bridge). The New York and Brooklyn Bridge, as it was first called, spanned two cities. This bridge spans two cities and two states. I ride to Covington, Kentucky just long enough to use an ATM. (I've heard unkind things about KY drivers from Spencer.)
Great American Ballpark: Reds vs. Cardinals
I love me some baseball. The hometown Reds actually beat the best team in the league for the third straight game. Plus, it’s Pete Rose bobble head day. Everybody wins—except St. Louis.
Rhinegeist Brewery (website)
I love me some craft beer, and this space is huge and raw. The black lager (pictured, yes, I prefer dark beer) and panda stout go down smoothly as Mark and I watch empty cans bounce off a malfunctioning machine and clatter to the ground.
Findlay Market (website)
Ohio’s oldest surviving municipal market is surrounded by cheerily painted buildings with shops and restaurants and—one block over—boarded up buildings and shady characters. Mark remembers how his mother would go to this market for her butcher and grocer necessities. Today we’re having a Vietnamese pho lunch. I return hours later with Dawn the photographer and a freelance writer for Bicycling Magazine doing a story about me. This is where the apple encounter took place.
Rhinegeist Brewery and Findlay Market are in this up-and-coming neighborhood that was down-and-out after the 2001 race riots (news coverage). It feels like Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the late 90s. If I had a chunk of change I’d certainly invest in OTR property, but apparently am already too late. A controversial street car (not yet functional) has jacked up prices even for abandoned buildings, some with historic architectural details.
Ice cream wars in Cincy are for real, but Grater’s gets my backing. They claim “over 145 years of history as the best handcrafted ice cream in the United States,” and their big chips leave my mouth tingling with satisfaction.
William Howard Taft House (website)
The boyhood home of our most rotund leader. Taft was an accomplished Commander-in-Chief and the father of the modern day Supreme Court. He’s the only president to serve as both head of the executive (1909-13) and judicial (1921-30) branches. What I admire most about Taft is that despite his heft (335 pounds while in the Oval Office), he walked four miles to work when at the Supreme Court. I bet he would have liked bike share, too!
Other Taft facts: first president to have a motor car, first administration to purchase a plane, first to open a baseball season by throwing the first pitch, and first to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery (JFK was the second).
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (website)
A look at America’s internal slave trade from 1790 to 1860, one of the largest forced migrations in human history. In 1850 Cincinnati was the sixth largest city in the country. Its port in a free state was just across the river from slave-owning Kentucky. The Ohio River was an integral waterway to slave markets in St. Louis, Memphis, Natchez and New Orleans. Because of economic interests, Cincinnati had a strong sympathy towards slavery and was complicit in its proliferation.
I of course also meet with local bikers, including Cincy Red Bike. In fact, I’ve arrived for bike share's first birthday bash that coincides with the Taft Ale House’s new Cincy Red Bike beer. How serendipitous. More on that fun night next post….