I put all the stuff I would take backpacking into the panniers I used to use for commuting. It all fit, except the tent. I figured I'd bungee the tent to the rear rack. I planned to start at the south end of the Little Miami trail (Ohio Rte 3) and stay in a couple of parks along the route. On paper it looked like a good plan.
We got everything done for school Friday before noon, but as I was packing I noticed a distinct lack of bungee in my home. I don't know how these things happen. I also learned that I needed to mail some checks ASAP, so I wrote them, threw the stuff in and on the car, and said bye to the family. "You might want to look at your right rear tire. It seems low," B said in lieu of bye.
It was not low, it was flat. I pumped it up with my floor pump and didn't hear any hissing noises, so I tossed the floor pump in and drove to the post office, Auto Zone, and then Cincinnati, or thereabouts. The guy at the booth exacted a $10 park fee (good all year!) and made me leave a bunch of information about my plans and identity and such. The advantage of paying the fee was that my car would stay under ranger surveillance during the weekend. There were many more details he also imparted, and maps and brochures and good wishes. He was kind of adorable.
Then I loaded up the bike and set off for Morrow on this really nice trail. I wouldn't want to take a big group of kids on it because the road crossings are numerous and two or three are downright hideous, but for anyone else I'd highly recommend it. I headed thirty miles upstream to camp and was getting tired by the end; I had thought that hanging a bunch of stuff on the back would slow me down a bit, but it really had the effect of making a very flat trail seem like an uphill slog. I decided to reserve two nights at this site (my initial plan was to camp in different places each night) and do the bulk of my riding on Saturday, unencumbered.
I'm so glad I did this! The next day was perfect weather (although I had to wear my sleeping shirt as a sweater until almost noon) and the route through Xenia and Yellow Springs is very pleasant. There were festivals going on in both of those towns, too. My goal was to visit Hartman's Rock Garden in Springfield, and I did.
I must say that Ohio Bicycle Route 3 takes a turn for the ugly in Springfield. Instead of a dedicated path, it becomes a desultory bike lane along an unlovely boulevard. It's a short way, though, to the rock garden, and that was a fun stop. I turned around there and got back to camp with lots of daylight left. The next day was even more perfect for biking and the south end of the trail that was mine alone on Friday afternoon was pretty busy on Sunday morning with bikers, joggers, walkers, and dogs. I reached my car, took a look at the tire (seemed ok), packed up and drove home.
Two miles—two miles—from home I heard a ping as if a rock had hit my rear window. Shortly after that it became obvious that my tire was not ok. I did have a great place to pull over, though, and I discovered that it had just blown apart at the outside seam. Spectacular! So I was very lucky all weekend, but mostly by having this incident at 20mph at the end of the trip. Tomorrow: tire-shopping.