The next 50 miles towards Cincinnati along the Ohio to Erie Trail are as flat as they are calm. I pass through Xenia where I get a terrible milkshake, but spark great conversation with locals interested in my ride.
With the number of impressions this bike is getting, you’d think Citi Bike would grant me amnesty and Citibank would at least waive my non-Citi ATM fees. I’ve been a customer for 12 years, but haven’t seen a branch since Washington or a reciprocal non-fee ATM since Pittsburgh.
There are no ATMs in tiny Corwin, which sits right on the trail. I stop for a quick bite at the Corwin Peddler, which I hear makes a mean arepa. Two local guys in their 20s are in the parking lot watching me pull in with curiosity. They introduce themselves as “rednecks,” and ask me if the bike is electric, which is a frequent question. They profess ignorance about anything outside of Corwin, and I find their small town good-naturedness humbly appealing.
My next stopping point is Fort Ancient, site of large earthworks built by the ancient Hopewell culture between 100 B.C. and 400 A.D. The walls, with multiple entrances, range from five to 20 feet high and were probably used for social and ceremonial purposes rather than defensive fortification.
I’m not here to see this National Historic Landmark, but rather to rendezvous with Dawn. She has been following my journey since she was contacted by Bicycling Magazine to take pictures of me for an article they are running. Although the photo shoot will happen in Cincinnati, she lives close to the trail and has brought her two young children to witness Countri Bike in action. (You can view Dawn's excellent family photography website here. We have since become friends.)
I arrive in a swirl of leaves. A pre-storm wind is picking up, but the greenery provides an attractive backdrop. With the expected rainfall, Dawn urges me to continue, but first hands me a slice of her homemade organic zucchini cake bread, which apparently is so good that contractors ask to be paid in loaves.
I quickly confirm its quality is top notch. I ride a minute until I’m out of sight and greedily devour the slice, leaving crumbs inside the Ziplock bag as rain falls from above.
Amazingly, aside from a stormy rest day in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, this is the only wet weather I’ve had since that downpour in Delaware. Trailside trees shade me from the raindrops, which lighten quickly. My shoes and socks never get wet, so this is nothing to worry about.
I arrange to be picked up along the trail in Loveland, Ohio, which is just several (uphill) miles from where my cousins live in Montgomery. Despite all the times they’ve come to the East Coast for Thanksgiving, I’ve never made it out to Cincinnati. Now I’ve arrived on their home turf and they embrace me the way family should.