Bicycling from Portsmouth, Ohio, to Louisville, Kentucky, on two lane roads along the scenic and historic Ohio River, will be a dream vacation for many outdoor adventurers. Imagine traveling through small towns that were spawned by our country’s historic spread west. At times, that evolution was bloody with conflict between European settlers and indigenous people and their clash of cultures. That same river was also a key marker on the Underground Railroad’s pathway for slaves traveling north to freedom.
So any bike ride along the river will allow both chances to enjoy pastoral vistas and chats with locals but also time to think about and see historic sites that tell those stories. For example, Ripley, Ohio, on US 52, on the Ohio side, has both the John Rankin House and the John Parker House, where slaves were guided from the river bank and then up the hillside on their nighttime escapes north. And Tecumseh and his Shawnee tribes people often traveled down those same stretches of river as they lived their lives in the early 1800s.
So we will scout this bike route in June with those future riders in mind who will need information about where they might eat, sleep, rest during short stops, repair a blown tire or see an important exhibit. We hope what we see and record along the way get many future wheels rolling. But we know that as changes happen along the route on both sides of the river, we’ll need to periodically update the information.
But in the end, and throughout history, the Ohio River has always been a vital economic, transportation and aesthetic resource. We hope to add a cycling checkpoint to that list. And we riders this summer look forward to being part of this cool adventure to make that happen.