Estimated mileage: 87 miles actual: 85.98
Avg. speed: 15.0 mph
Cumulative distance: 385.72 miles
Our cycling kit was still a little damp this morning after we’d rinsed it out in the hotel bathtub last night, so our plan to take the advice of the people we’d spoken to in Roost and have breakfast out at Press Coffee Bar was scuppered. Instead we had to use the hair drier that was in our room to blow warm air over our jerseys so that they’d be wearable.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the hotel breakfast was the worst we’ve had – really mean and all I could eat were some oats with hot water, then a toasted bagel with some peanut butter. You can probably tell that we didn’t really warm to this particular hotel!
Dayton is known as the ‘birthplace of aviation’ and in an historic district to the west of the city centre and only about a mile from our hotel was the preserved bicycle workshop that had been the main business of Wilbur and Orville Wright when they developed a way to control aircraft – the principles of which are still in use today and which led to their being credited with the invention of sustainable powered flight in a heavier than air machine. The work that the Wright brothers did in designing, manufacturing and selling bicycles led them to believe that balancing and controlling something as unstable as an aeroplane was possible, since they knew that balancing and controlling a bicycle could also be learned.
I love bicycles and I really like aeroplanes, so I persuaded Matthew that we could make time for quick visit to the preserved Wright Cycle Company complex in S Williams Street – even if it was just for a picture outside, it would be worth it!
Our visit to the Wright Cycle Co., far exceeded my expectations. The shop and workshop are in a lovely area, not far from the Miami River. The nineteenth century buildings are made of brick and the roads are paved with bricks too, which ties everything in well. When we arrived outside the shop, I thought that it looked splendid. I was quite happy just to be there and to take some pictures outside. The building was closed, but I didn’t really mind as I hadn’t imagined that it would be possible to go inside. However, across a small plaza was a curved modern visitors’ centre. There was some information about guided tours, but we didn’t really have the time for that. I went in just to have a look around really. On the off-chance and on the basis that if you don’t ask you don’t get, I explained to the woman at the desk that were cycling through Dayton, leaving for Columbus soon, but I wondered if it might be possible to make a quick visit to the Wright’s bicycle workshop. She said ‘Sure.’ Just like that! I was delighted. She called a ranger who had the keys and he took us over and inside the workshop. It was beautiful – lots of exhibits and artifacts, including original Wright Cycle Co. bicycles for women and men. Information about the brothers, cycling, bicycle manufacturing and flying. The workshop was their third and was the one where they made the Wright Flyer.
We chatted to the ranger for a while and while we were there a group of seven women who were also visiting came in too; they also had lots of questions and we all started talking to each other. They were lovely – interested on our trip and I think that they had more questions about us, where we stayed, how we found people to stay with, how far we’d travelled, how our bikes got to America, how we found our way. It was fun talking with them and they were really sweet: they thought that Warm Showers was a wonderful concept and one woman said that if she’d known we were coming, we could have stayed with her!
We had some questions too – we talked about the bicycle trails and I told them about some of the animals we’d seen. I asked if they knew what the small bright yellow birds were: they’re finches; the animal that looks like a beaver is a groundhog. I’d seen a groundhog – amazing! One of my favourite films/movies is Groundhog Day and I’d met a relative of Punxsutawney Phil, without even realising it! The women agreed to take our pictures outside the Wright Cycle Co. store front and took our blog address. If you’re reading this – let us know who you are!
We headed back into Dayton centre and headed for cycle track 3 that would take us from the River Scape Metro Park along the Great Miami River and up alongside the Mad River tributary and then on for 20 miles south east to Xenia, where we would change to the Ohio to Erie trail, which would take us 40 miles and almost all the way to Columbus.
By the Engineers’ Club back in Dayton there was a life-size sculpture of the Wright Flyer in steel. Opposite, in the riverside park where our cycle route would begin we came across a memorial to the 360 victims of the Great Dayton Flood of 1913. The flood caused extensive damage to the city and Matthew read on the information boards that the amount of water passing through the river during the 3-day rainstorm equalled the flow over Niagara Falls each month. There was a beautiful waterfall memorial by the side of the river.
It would have been good to have spent a little longer exploring Dayton, but we’d already spent longer there than expected and we were expected at Brooke and Melissa’s house at around 7.
It was warm and the trail long the river was wonderful with a cool breeze. There were views across the water and we saw a beautiful heron standing in the shallows. At the Eastwood Metro Park just outside Dayton in Springfield, we changed to the Creekside Trail that would take us up to Xenia – a major cycle trail intersection.
As we cycled I said to Matthew that I’d read some quite disturbing things about Richmond, (the town we’d lunched in yesterday). In the 1920s during a national revival of the Ku Klux Klan, Indiana had the largest Klan organisation in the country and in Richmond up to 45 percent of white men were Klan members. Matthew said “I know, but I thought I’d better not tell you because I knew that it would upset you!” Hmmm … it’s a bit worrying that he keeps stuff from me. Also that he knows me better than I know myself. He probably thought that I’d refuse to ride through Richmond or be unwilling to eat there if I’d known this in advance. (Actually, that is probably just the kind of thing that I would do. My life is littered with those kind of futile gestures that end up inconveniencing me and achieving nothing very much!).
In Xenia we met a group of older guys out cycling – Bill and his friends were out cycling with Bill’s grandson Taylor. Bill gave us directions to the start of the trail to Columbia. He told us that there are over 330 miles of bicycle trails in the area and that he volunteers on the trails, giving directions and assistance. There are some amazing long-distance cycling events on the trails that Bill told us about and it’d be really good to find out more about them. We gave Taylor our blog address – so hopefully we’ll all be able to stay in touch.
We were a bit hungry by now, so we wanted to get something to eat – that Grand Hotel breakfast just hadn’t done it for us! Bill told us that it would be best to go back into the centre of Xenia. We seemed to spend ages traipsing about trying to find some lunch – it was really difficult today – we ended up in a UDF (United Dairy Farmers) store. Dreadful – very little there that I could eat, but at least some decent coffee (no soya milk of course!). I ended up eating nearly a whole packet of Orio’s – they’re vegan in the US, but not in the UK where they add whey powder for some reason – go figure! Anyway, I felt a little bit sick after that, but at least the sugar rush would propel me for the next 40 miles or so.
The trail was long and straight – just like yesterday – I kept thinking of Groundhog Day! We arrived in a lovely little town called, rather bizarrely, London! By the cycle trail was a really good shelter, picnic area, information board and seating area. A lovely little memorial obelisk was placed nearby to Bill Young (1953-2008) – he died young, that’s for sure – only 55. On the memorial it read: ‘Ride On’ and ‘Bill would say life is like a bicycle, you don’t fall off unless you stop pedalling’. That’s a good way to be remembered.
We could hear faint thunder rumbling in the distance, so we put the hammer down (pedalled hard) to try and outrun it. We didn’t quite make it and a heavy (but warm) rainstorm engulfed us just as we came into Columbus.
That didn’t stop us admiring the city centre buildings and the lovely Short North neighbourhood that we cycled through on our way to our Warm Showers hosts. There were lots of banners and rainbow flags for Columbus Pride on the lamp posts. In some of the bars people were celebrating the striking down of the Defence of Marriage Act (a dreadful homophobic law in the US that prevents same-sex couples from having equal rights with heterosexual couples). The case was brought by Edith Windsor who’s 84 year old and who was required to pay taxes on her deceased partner’s estate – something she would not have had to do if she were married. This is brilliant news – and definitely a cause for celebration.
Some fireworks were being set off as we arrive at Brook and Melissa’s street – wow, we were really being made to feel welcome in Columbus! At the house, there was a party at a neighbours – they were new arrivals. We met Christina, Melissa’s sister who was visiting and Gemma the dog and the two cats: Agnes and Dave.
While dinner was being prepared Christina told us that she was trying to sell her BMW, which she’d bought while she was posted as a nurse in the military in Germany. She was going to have to drive 3 hours to get home. I’m often amazed at the extent to which people in the US seem to think nothing of driving cast distances! Christina also told us that she’d been to England – to London and Stonehenge ! I suppose that for lots of people this is they see of the UK, (which makes the state if the Stonehenge site with its busy roads converging on it, chain-link fencing and rather tatty facilities even more of a national disgrace).
We had a lovely vegan dinner – bliss and chatted. Brooke and Melissa told us that we were only the third guests that they’d had staying with them from Warm Showers. And the first that had jobs! I admired their Vitamix – an eye-wateringly expensive blender, which they really liked and used almost every day for making nut butter, smoothies and soups. I’ve been thinking of getting one, but Matthew said it would clutter up the kitchen work surfaces! Bed and blog! Matthew has been crowing because the blog had had lots of hits – so thank you all our readers and commenters for keeping him happy!