Sunday, August 21, 2011

THINGS TO DO IN CINCINNATI - ON A BICYCLE BUILT FOR TWO

I don't know where Foghorn got the idea, although I suspect it came from Arthur.  It wouldn't be the first time inspiration came from that source.  One night last week she came bopping into the kitchen saying, "Mom, I have a question.  And I hope you won't think it's too hoi polloi."  Once I closed by gaping mouth, I asked where the hell she got that from.  Arthur, the cute little cartoon aardvark on PBS.  And I'm willing to bet it was good ole Arthur who turned her on to tandem bicycles.


Whatever the source, she had broached the subject with me a couple weeks ago and I investigated renting one.  A free afternoon with pretty weather and an available tandem bike at Loveland Bike Rental combined to make for a perfect mother-daughter outing. 






 

The Little Miami Bike Trail is a rail trail, meaning it has been converted from disused railway lines into a biking and walking trail.  It has 78 paved miles of trail running from Newtown in the south to Springfield in the north.  My personal favorite part of the trail is the Loveland Bike Trail, located in the city of Loveland, Ohio, about 20 miles northeast of downtown Cincinnati.  It was here that we stopped at at Loveland Bike Rental and procured our tandem bike.  The bike rental has reasonable rates, in this case $15 for an hour, and offers both traditional and recumbent bikes, as well as trailers and helmets.
From the parking lot we had the option of going north or south on the trail.  From past experience I knew that I personally preferred going north, towards Lebanon and Morrow.  South would eventually take us to Milford, but I knew we'd only be biking a couple miles and I find the first few miles north more scenic.  We strapped on our helmets and then tried to solve the puzzle of how to get two people on one bike when one of the person's feet didn't touch the ground when sitting on the seat.  We finally figured out the best way (and most unflattering) was for me to straddle the bike, then tilt it sideways so Foghorn could climb aboard.  Once she had her behind on the seat, I was able level the bike out, hoisting her up. 

Much to Foghorn's dismay, she discovered that putting her feet up and letting me do all the work was not going to be as easy as she expected.  Funny thing about tandem bikes -- if I pedal, her pedals rotate, meaning she can't just rest her feet on them and go along for the ride.  There were occasional jerky moments when it felt like the bike was changing gears and it took me awhile to realize it happened whenever I pedaled too fast and Foghorn's feet slipped off.  This was my first time on a tandem bike and I was a little nervous about maneuvering something that was as long as a Cadillac.  I remember all too well renting one of those little trailers that hook on the back of a bike when The Professor was a toddler and trying to ride along the trail.  It pulled constantly to the right and he frequently yelled for me, meaning I tried to look behind me and then got wobbly and almost tipped over.  We won't go into when he threw his cup out the back, unbeknownst to me until a passing cyclist informed me...  Amazingly, the tandem bike proved to be no harder than a regular bike, with the small exception of impossible u-turns.

At first Foghorn was unsettled by the experience, since this bike was much bigger and the seat much higher than her Disney Princess model.  There was the added fact that I could pedal much faster than she ever could on her own and the combined speed and lack of any control over the bike's movements on her part left her chattering nervously behind me, despite my assurances that I really did know what I was doing. 

Once we came to a good compromise speed the ride became purely enjoyable.  Our portion of the Loveland Bike Trail runs parallel to the Little Miami River and is wooded on either side, providing wonderful shade with the trees at their full leafiness.  There are mileage markers every half mile and benches about every mile or so, allowing for the occasional break when little legs got tired or my co-pilot found herself in need of a juice box. 




The wonderful thing about the Loveland Bike Trail is the wide variety of people you see and the equal variety of activities.  From babies to senior citizens, there is something for everyone.  You get the hardcore cyclists in Spandex, as well as the casual bikers like us, who coast almost as much as they pedal.  You have the stroller pushers and the stroller riders, the dog walkers and the inline skaters.  And as you peek through the trees at the river, you can see the fishermen and canoeists enjoying the water. 

After half an hour, Foghorn and I started back so we could return the bike on time and she lamented the fact that we only had an hour to ride, it was so much fun.  I agree and it's definitely something we'll have to do again.  I will offer you one word of warning on the tandem bike.  Getting off was no easy thing.  The problem was that Foghorn's handlebars were directly behind me and rose a good 6" above my seat.  On a normal bike I simply swing my leg around backwards to exit.  On this bike, however, the seat was a little higher than I'm used to and then there's that extra half a foot of metal sticking up in the back.  I discovered, at 5'4", my legs weren't quite long enough to successfully swing over those handlebars.  I discovered this when I attempted it, in full view of a dozen people...and failed.  I caught the leg of my crop pants on the handlebars and fell with a thud, the bike falling on top of me.  It might have gone unnoticed if I hadn't let out a loud, guttural "oomph" as I hit the ground.  I pray I don't show up on YouTube. Just the kinda thing that could go viral.

While you're in the area, you can check out the other things downtown Loveland has to offer including Nisbet Park, restaurants, antique stores, and, my favorite, Loveland Sweets, an adorable little ice cream and candy shop.  A tasty way to replenish any calories you burned off while biking.

The Loveland Bike Trail is located in the heart of downtown Loveland.  The parking lot is on Railroad Avenue, next to Nisbet Park and Loveland Bike Rental.   Directions from the Loveland Bike Rental site can be found here.

If you'd like more information on the Loveland Bike Trail, please check out the links below.

Loveland Bike Rental.

Great trail map covering the portion from Newtown to Lebanon.

Loveland Bike Trail.


(Note that once we left downtown Loveland we didn't come across any garbage cans along the roughly two miles we rode.  Shelters and stops with bathroom facilities can be found on the map linked above.  Please plan ahead with a grocery store bag or backpack.  It's such a pretty trail.  Please don't litter.)


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3 comments:

Kathie said...

Sounds like a great time!

lillianscupboard said...

What an adventure!

Nancy Susanna Breen said...

The next time you take that route, especially if the leaves have thinned out, be sure to take a picture of the Loveland Castle across the river and the Cones place, where Nancy Ford Cones took so many of her great photos. Cones's house is on the right, a Victorian-looking brick. Neither is very far outside downtown Loveland along the bike trail, so you don't have to ride very far to come to them.