Tag Archives: bicycle touring

Undergrond Railroad Bicycle Tour

It’s finally warm enough for my first bicycle tour of 2017. Yeah! No more winter rides with three layers of clothing to protect me from the cold. No more spinning in a stuffy room going nowhere. I was able to bike about 600 miles since January, so my legs are ready to go.
My plan is to ride a portion of the Adventure Cycling Association Underground Railroad Bike Route. I will leave my house in Cincinnati and bike to Erie PA, and include the Pittsburgh Spur. From Pittsburgh, I will ride US Bike Route 50 to Columbus OH, then retrace my route back to Cincinnati. It should be about 900 miles round trip, and take me three weeks to complete.


The UGRR route follows one of the many paths used by slaves as they fled the South in search of freedom. The entire route of 2006 miles starts at Mobile AL and ends at Owen Sound ON.

To learn more about the Underground Railroad, I went to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center with my wife, Michiko, and daughter, Jennifer. We are lucky to have this gem in our community. This was my second time visiting the Freedom Center, but it was just as emotional as the first time. I will never be able to fully grasp the pain, suffering, humiliation and death that was heaped upon slaves in this country. I get angry when I hear whites say that it is time for African Americans to “get over” the past. So easily said, but oh such an ignorant statement! Slavery was established in the US in the 1600’s. Generation after generation of African American families suffered this abomination. We are talking about 300 years of bondage. Despite the ending of slavery after the Civil War, African Americans have had to endure prejudice and segregation. My simple arithmetic says that it won’t be until the year 2300 when there has been enough time for healing to occur. The healing will happen a lot faster when I accept that my ancestors were responsible for perpetuating slavery and prejudice, and I sincerely ask the African American community to forgive me for this sin.


I look forward to stopping at all of the points of interest along the route from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh. If all goes according to plan, I will leave home the day after Mothers Day (May 15). Please follow my blog as I explore Ohio and Pennsylvania on a bicycle built for one (and a lot of stuff).
P.S. Some of you might be wondering why I am not biking across the USA this spring. So goes the best laid plans. We are in the midst of remodeling our house, so I am postponing the cross country trip to 2018. This change in plans will allow me to take another bike tour this fall. I will bike through the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

Mammoth Caves – Overnight Bicycle Trip

 

Saturday, April 23, 2016
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For those familiar with the TransAmerica Bike Trail, there is an option to take a side trip (it’s really a loop) to Mammoth Caves National Park. I followed this loop for a two day bike tour, leaving Hodgenville KY on Saturday morning, biking 46 miles to Mammoth Caves Campground, and completing the loop on Sunday by biking 48 miles back to Hodgenville.

I departed from Hodgenville on Saturday morning at 7:30am. Very light traffic and a cool, overcast morning made for a perfect ride to Cave City KY (about 9 miles shy of the park).
The Kentucky countryside this time of year is simply gorgeous. The redbud is just past its peak, and the dogwood has started to bloom. The deciduous trees are just starting to fill out with new leaves, and the local wildlife is waking up after the cold winter. I don’t know about you, but for me the sound of robins and cardinals singing in the early morning let me know Spring has finally arrived.

Upon entering Cave City, it was like turning the clock back to the 1950’s or 60’s. Tourist attractions crowd the road on both sides.
You can stay overnight in an air conditioned teepee..

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You can play putt putt golf at Jellystone Park.

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You can shop for antiques and gem stones at stores that try to attract you with not-your-every-day yard decorations.

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And if you are really adventurous, you can sneak around in the woods to get a glimpse of some really big and ferocious Kentucky wildlife!

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Despite all of these attractions and distractions, I finally completed the last 9 miles of the day, and arrived at Mammoth Caves Campground. The facility is top notch. It is one of the best maintained and clean campgrounds I have stayed at. I set up camp, took a shower, and then got busy making dinner. Take a look ….. Pad Thai noodles with steamed broccoli, sautéed onions and spicy peanut sauce.

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Throughout the afternoon and evening, there were many yellow and black striped butterflies flying around my campsite. I think they were eastern tiger swallowtails.

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As the sun set, I started a fire, and enjoyed the last sunlight of the the day.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016
I got up before sunrise on Sunday, ate breakfast, packed my bags, and set out for my return trip to Hodgenville. Just before leaving the park, I got to ride a small ferry across the Green River.

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In my four years riding my bike around the Kentucky countryside, there is one resident that I have seen almost every time – the turkey buzzard. Because there are so many deer and rodents killed by cars, the buzzards never go hungry. I spotted one eying me as I labored up a steep hill. I think he was hoping I would get hit by a car so that he could break the monotony of dining on venison and opossum.

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It is nice to know that there are other modes of transportation that are as slow and deliberate as riding a bike. There is a large Amish community in Munfordville KY. This family was probably on their way to church.

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I made it safely back to my car in Hodgenville by 1pm. What a great weekend. If you think you might enjoy an overnight camping trip by bicycle, please give it a try. Who knows, you may like it so much that you will start thinking about riding the entire TransAmerica Trail. That’s what happened to me!