People have various ways they recharge during R&R. Me, I like to ride dozens of miles over a period of weeks, interspersing beer along the way. It's particularly restful when someone else plans your route and carries your crap. This year, I became a Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) "veteran" by doing the ride for a second time. In my opinion, I earned my stripes by suffering tent, bike, and weather (blinding fog and rain) malfunctions -- all of which I somehow managed to luckily avoid the year before (well, there was some rain).
This year was more relaxing for a lot of reasons, but most of all, I was just more laid-back, not feeling like I had to prove my mettle. I wasn't worried that I would be the last one out on the course, so I wasn't afraid to linger at sights along the right, such as Mill Creek Covered Bridge (top left) and Deer Creek Lake (top right). I took my time at the rest stops. The unofficial snack pit by Buckeye Lake (bottom) was a particular respite, considering I somehow missed the official lunch location that day.
Other stops were easier to find because they were at known tourist destinations, such as Smeck Historical Farm and Park (top left) and Dawes Arboretum (top right). I also felt no guilt about opting out of the optional rides on overnight stops. I spent a lot of my time "rehydrating" in local establishments, such as Staas Brewing Company in Delaware and Double Edge Brewing Co. in Lancaster, but in the latter town, I also took a stroll on the trail up to Mount Pleasant (bottom left), where I could look back on Fairfield County Fairgrounds, where we stayed for the night (bottom right), and think about the suckers who were likely getting rained on out on the route.Brink Brewing Co., where I sampled Gabe's Northside Rye and Debbie Jean Cherry Lemonade blonde ale (left). It was a Monday night, so I mostly had the place to myself, except for what appeared to be my kind of Mommy and Me group (right). I was about to head to Fretboard Brewing Company, but the bartender told me that Foreigner was playing there that night, and I wouldn't be able to get in without tickets.
March First Brewing instead (top), where I had a flight of Denali IPA, Mosaic Pale Ale, Swiss Chocolate Stout, and Maple Red Ale (middle left). Again, most of the place, including the vat-viewing tables, was empty (middle right). I can only assume that the better-informed beer drinkers in town were enjoying an acoustic version of "Jukebox Hero." I also had relatively few neighbors at my waterside site at Winton Woods Campground as well (bottom left). As it is with camping, I tucked myself as the sun went down (bottom right), so I would be well-rested for my first beer-biking loop the next day.
Upon waking up, I realized my route might be ambitious, considering I didn't calculate the fact that breweries don't tend to open in the morning. With some time to kill, I took a nice walk along the Kingfisher Trail (top left) before fueling up with a late breakfast of goetta tacos Foster's at the Troubadour (top right). Then I drove to the start of my loop, Listermann Brewing, which blessfully opened at 11 a.m. (middle). I unloaded my bike just their doors opened, then christened the day with a flight of Yacht Rock milkshake IPA, Stoppage Time cream ale, Freat wheat beer, and house cider (bottom left). The bartender was intermittently engaged in bottling beer (bottom right), but during a break, I told her what I was doing; she wished me well and sent me on my way with a Cincinnati Brewery Passport.
It was mostly a downhill ride to downtown, where I crossed the Purple People Bridge into Kentucky (top left). To delay an early arrival at my next stop, I snapped some shots of the Queen City skyline (top right). I reached Braxton Brewing Company and Labs just after it opened, and it was pretty dead due to it being a mid-Tuesday (middle left). While some employees cut an industrial-size bucket of limes behind me, the bartender happily commiserated with me and offered some sudsy suggestions: a Brut IPA and the appropriately-named Cycle Coffee Stout 002 (middle right). She also recommended I get lunch at McK's Chicks, just down the road from the brewery's nearby main location (bottom left). Indeed, McK's ghost pepper mac 'n' cheese was washed down real nicely with a Haven hefeweizen (bottom right).
It started to sprinkle as I finished my pork sandwich, but nonetheless, I decided to risk the quick ride to Wooden Cask Brewing Company. The downpour was just beginning as I ran into the brewery (left). The law-student bartender was a gracious host, letting me in a few minutes before opening time and suggesting that I bring in my bike as well. I didn't bother as it was already soaked by the precipitation onslaught. Instead, as I sipped a 7th Street Runoff brown ale (right), I considered the karmic consequences of my being smug about avoiding most of the rain during GOBA.
It was coming down so bad that I considered calling a taxi, but then I saw a ray of light (or thought I did), so I made a run for the border, back to Ohio. Not going to lie, I got drenched on my way to Rhinegeist Brewery, but nobody seemed to mind that I was sopping wet in the old Christian Moerlein bottling plant, which is big enough to accommodate both extensive brewing (top left) and cornhole (top right) equipment. (Incidentally, I was unable to visit Moerlein's current operations, as they were closed the day I was in the area.) It was a difficult choice at the bar (middle left), but in the end, I had a flight of Pia pale ale, Bubbles rose ale (a kind of cider), Flamingo IPA, and Spike witbier (middle right). By the time I left, the sun had come out, which was good because I had a long climb out of downtown (full disclosure: when I stopped to walk, a dad with his daughter in a kid's seat passed me) to Woodburn Brewery (bottom left). There, I only had one drink, a Marzenbier, because my appearance -- and odor -- weren't mixing well with the swank ambiance (bottom right). I returned to Listermann, where they rewarded my feat with some free sips.
The second day, I was awakened quite early by some woodpeckers (top left). So I had some time to reconsider my plan based on my newfound understanding of opening hours, and ultimately, I trimmed down my brewery list. I parked at my starting point and set off immediately on the Little Miami Scenic Trail toward Fifty West Brewing Company (top right). The brewpub offered six-pack flights, so I selected Coast to Coast IPA, Tastee Whip cream ale, Samba blonde ale, Pop Top pale ale, Straight 8 pale ale, and Main Street amber ale (bottom left). Sure in the fact that I didn't need to rush, I lingered over my beer, enjoying the pubby atmosphere and singing along to some good tunes with the bartender (bottom right).
My next stop, MadTree Brewing Company, was almost the exact opposite of a warm, wood-filled brewpub; it was more of an industrial, steel-built loft (top left). But the numerous taps were certainly welcoming. I struggled with narrowing down my choices, but finally went with Between the Spreadsheets saison, Heifer Weizen wheat beer, Rubus Cacao chocolate raspberry stout, and Yes! Cuban B! American imperial (top right). Before I left, I talked myself into a free sample of PsycHOPathy IPA, then visited the more sad than mad tree in the brewery's outdoor pavilion (bottom).
I headed on to Streetside Brewery, which clearly wasn't taking itself as seriously, what with the Lite-Brite panels attached to the walls (top left). The brewery has lots of whimsical beer flavors, including the dangerously tasty Cereal Milk milkshake IPA, which was seriously reminiscent of Fruity Pebbles remnants. Besides that brilliant creation, I filled out my flight with Key Lime Pie Goes? goze, Many Hills oud bruin, and S'more Fun Together imperial brown (top right). I took advantage of the equally creative on-site food truck, Street Chef Brigade (bottom left), to nosh on a snack: a flatbread with Mexican-style toppings (bottom right).Little Miami Brewing Company (top left). I had already finished an Earth Cookie brown ale and Magpie Rye (top right) before I realized there was some spectacular seating overlooking the Little Miami (middle). But I didn't have time to linger, and I soon headed home to Mansfield. A few days later, after I put the bike back in the basement there, I unwound by watching a dragon float over nearby Ashland during Balloonfest (bottom left). It was a good way to bookend my R&R, considering I had started the trip by taking my dad to the city's Uniontown Brewing Company for Father's Day (bottom right).