XENIA — The wiry man checks the road he’s about to cycle across and pushes off.
“Back on the trail,” he announces as he crosses Roxanna New Burlington Road near Waynesville, leaving behind a gaggle of other cyclists, some with conventional two-wheel bikes like his, others with two- or three-wheel recumbent, or even tandem bicycles.
Soon Charlie Hunt and his gray Trek bicycle are out of sight down the Little Miami Scenic Trail, as he casually cycles to catch up with his group which left him behind a few minutes earlier. He’ll undoubtedly catch up with them soon, as the group didn’t seem in any particular effort to break any speed records.
What he leaves behind is the first rest stop along a “century” and “metric century” bicycle ride, which is part of the Greene Trails Cycling Classic, a four-day annual biking event put on by Greene County Parks & Trails. The year the event has drawn about 200 cyclists to the area.
Hunt and his group plan to do 100 kilometers – or 62 miles – on the day, and they’ll have to keep up the pace if they want to make it to their destination and back to the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia – the event’s headquarters – before the storms forecast for the afternoon roll in.
At the rest stop, cyclists stop to stretch, chat with other riders and grab a snack or two before moseying back onto the trail. It’s just a brief stop on the day’s journey.
Hunt is from Williamsburg, Virginia, and is here with his bicycling group from back home. It’s his fourth year doing the event.
“We just keep coming back, because it’s a great place to pedal without pressure,” he said just before taking off. “That’s what really makes it nice. We hope to keep coming back as long as we can keep doing it.”
Hunt is confident regarding the weather: “We’re going to be back before the three o’clock rains arrive.”
So far this morning, the clouds have held, presenting the cyclists on the trail with pleasant riding weather … for now. This rest stop is about 10 miles into the journey, so the majority of the trip lies ahead of this particular group.
Hunt limps around among his group members, chatting with them while enjoying a banana – a little energy for the long journey ahead. As he and others leave, more roll up, ready to enjoy the rest stop. It’s a cycle that has occurred throughout the morning and will continue for awhile yet this morning.
# # #
Hunt and his group are among many others who come from throughout the state and the country to enjoy the cycling event. They join others of all ages, including Connie Rudd and her dog Rocky from Kentucky; including Jon Dittrich from Tennessee; including the group Candie and Don Lobelle from Michigan, with Paul and Jerry Boyer, from Pennsylvania; all who hit the trail Friday morning.
For the Lobelles and Boyers, this marks the second year they’ve participated in the Greene County event. Just two hours earlier and about ten miles north of the rest stop, the group of four readies their three-wheel recumbent cycles for the trail and reflects on how cycling brought them together.
“They’re from Michigan, and we’re from Pennsylvania,” Jerry said. “We met on a ride maybe…”
“–ten years ago in New York,” his wife Paula finishes for him.
Jerry continues: “It’s an opportunity for us to visit with each other. We try to do a ride a year. This works out great. It’s about halfway between Michigan and Pennsylvania.”
Just a few minutes later, the four are off as part of the larger group.
Friday is just one day of the four-day event. Other days include shorter rides on various trails in the area. And the Greene Trails Cycling Classic isn’t just about cycling, it also includes evening social events and meals for those who attend.
It’s all part of the bond that seems to form among those who participate. Sure, cyclists might be a little sore for a few days after the event and all the miles, but they’ll have formed or solidified bonds of friendship that will likely last far longer.
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.