Joyce on Little Miami
This was a really good day on the trail. We did 44 miles to finish it out and took our time doing it, going from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with plenty of breaks in between rides because we had no deadlines to meet.
Though yesterday was scenic because we were following the Little Miami River for most of the ride, this section of the trail from Lebanon to Springfield was a more pleasant ride: it was better maintained and so not as bumpy in places, had some wildflowers along with the bushes and hardwoods, followed the river for a little while, and had more signage and restroom availability because it went through the two bicycle-friendly towns of Xenia and Yellow Spring. We had lunch at the latter of these at a nice little hole-in-the-wall type restaurant that seemed to specialize in organic and/or healthy foods, Sunrise Café. And then two miles beyond our lunch stop was a side ride of about a mile to a local dairy that made delicious ice cream, where we treated ourselves to a double dip treat, and then back on the trail with only about eight miles left to go.
As we have completed this part of the trip, Martha and I have discussed how blessed we both feel to be healthy enough to do what we’re doing, to have the energy and motivation to do the planning and the rides, to have the financial resources to get to the various places across the country, and to have understanding husbands who encourage us to complete this bucket-list adventure. We both believe that all the good things that are happening to us are not just coincidental. God is watching over us as we take these trips. The fact that Emily, the once-stranger-now-friend who shuttled us yesterday from Springfield to Newtown, actually lived in Lebanon was no coincidence. She could have lived in any town within 100 miles of the trail, but she lived in Lebanon, the very town we needed her to be in, and so was available to pick us up at the hotel and take us back to the trail this morning so that we didn’t have to be so vulnerable to traffic on the road that had so many blind spots. And yesterday, when Martha asked the man in the truck at the intersection if this was the right road to Lebanon and if it was hilly, the timing of that encounter was not coincidental but a blessing to us. We could have missed the encounter by just two minutes or he could have been on his way somewhere else and wouldn’t be coming back our way so that he could pick us up, and we would have been sore and dead tired when we finally made it to the hotel and we also wouldn’t have had the awakening thought that danger can actually happen to us even when we feel invincible on these trails. As we said yesterday, he and his truck was a Godsend.
Even the weather has been a blessing—we’ve had perfect temperatures on every day of this trip and can think of only one day in all the trips we’ve taken when we were rained on excessively, but then we had Kay to back us up and check us into the hotel room so that we had only to get to the room and get our wet clothes off. People often ask us what we do when we have problems with our bikes, and our response is that it always works out. Except for the one flat tire in Mississippi only a mile from the end of the trail, some friendly riders always seem to come by just at the right time to help us pump our tires or fix a loose chain or adjust the brakes.
And this brings us to the blessings of meeting so many genuinely nice people on our trips who are now a part of our experiences and memories. Today, for example, at the rest stop in Xenia, we spent probably thirty minutes with a group of about ten retired men and women who meet to ride these trails and just enjoy each other’s company. (And when we left, two of them kindly led us through the town section where the trail was harder to follow.) Listening to their introductions and then responding to their questions, we told them all about our trips and seemed to inspire them to keep doing the bike riding they are doing and to stay moving in their senior years. They encouraged us to write our article for the AARP magazine about our trips and the pleasure it has brought us. This conversation with them also caused me to think about who I am and how I can have an influence for good on other people, which made me then think about my “I’m a Mormon” profile at http://www.mormon.org/me/8GW4/Joyce. With friendly interactions I can also show love for my fellow sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven.
I know this sounds corny to some people, but sometimes when I’m riding along on the trail with “nature close up”—I think about my parents and other ancestors looking down on me and saying “There’s Joyce, enjoying life in a good way.”
And so I close out today’s comments as we get ready tonight (10:30 p.m.) to go to the Amtrak station to ship our bikes back home, since this station in Indianapolis is open today only from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.