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Updated March 11: Cincinnati Observations: Two Tales of a City

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Who knew that two years ago as I was prepared to share with you my observations as someone who moved to Cincinnati from Seattle that it would be two years more before I would actually have time to do so? Two years? Hard to believe. As I intimated in the post just before this one, two major factors have kept me from writing: Raising a new puppy, and losing a lot of photos. Rest assured, my PedalPinting has continued all along. I have expanded my prowess in navigating this city, and new breweries have opened up. I am eager to share with you this new knowledge, and all the fun!

As for sharing my observations of Cincinnati as an outsider? Now I think I have time and am ready. As I told you in the past, I have been paying attention.

MetalSidewalkHoleWGrassSprout

Those of you who have followed me, be you PedalPinters or not, and those who have simply read the subtitle of this blog know that we moved to Cincy from Seattle. What you may not know is I have moved around this country quite a bit. I wouldn’t change that. It’s been an experience-rich life so far.

I find myself holding two views of Cincinnati:

1. Things suck here, and that’s just the way it is.

2. It’s not that bad.

Following is a writeup of the culture around the city, after which will appear a simple list of points – observations and their implications. These points will, as much as possible, include a photo I have taken serving as an example. I will begin this study of Cincinnati tonight, laying out my view, and I will add entries to the list of examples/points and photos in the coming days. Check back often for updates.

Here is a feel for why Cincinnati sucks and that’s just the way it is:

An old-fashioned city.

It has become clear to me that this is an old-fashioned city. I am not saying old-fashioned is always bad. I have many old-fashioned views and qualities, and I am certainly not someone who is quick to jump to accepting all things new and popular. What I see though is that people here seem behind the times in some ways, and I suspect they like it that way.

The most glaring example for me, and the one that most relates to what we do here at Twopedalsacouplepints is the prevailing attitude toward cycling on the roadways. Never before, anywhere I have lived, have I had it shouted at me: “Get on the sidewalk!!” – not “get off the road.” It is clear that a great number of people here believe that people riding bicycles should only do so on the sidewalk! I am reminded of the infamous picture of Mayor Cranley sporting a bike from the newly-rolled out Red Bike program by riding it. Where? On the sidewalk!!

Further examples can be found in the population’s participation rate in recycling, and the attitude toward the concept of recycling. It’s a glaring difference from what you see in Seattle. To start, you see written on the recycling bins and/or trucks the slogan “Cincinnati Recycles.” Okay. Whoop dee doo! Don’t make like it’s some extraordinary thing to recycle. Recycling in Seattle is much more an integrated foregone conclusion about which the City does not attempt to brag. What I see as I walk and run my athletic dog, and as I bicycle around Cincinnati is that trash cans are amazingly heavy (I know this because I very often have to move them out of the way as they are placed blocking the sidewalk) and the recycling bins are light. Some of the big, nice houses around Hyde Park have two or three trash bins, and just one recycling bin. Our household produces probably at least three times as much recycling as landfill waste. We traded in our full-sized trash bin for the small size and we rarely fill it up halfway. I also see a ton of recyclable material in landfill-bound trash bins, and I see recyclables like big cardboard boxes set out on non-recycling days.

Now, look at diet and eating habits and customs in Cincinnati. Obviously you have the whole chili thing. You also have it just assumed (and this is certainly not unique to Cincy) that everyone eats meat. Barbeque this, hamburger and hot dog that. Trying to raise a child who does not eat meat and does not consume a bunch of junk is a challenge here. Heck, the public school hands out candy for good behavior! Pathetic.

Consider also just how car-centric Cincinnati is. It may sound dramatic, but I really feel quite alone when I bicycle anywhere in this town. I am an alien in a hostile land. I very much long for the feeling, not just of collegiality, but of relative safety that I got cycling in some parts of Seattle. There were a lot of other cyclists on the streets with me, which leads to them being expected and accepted. Cycling in Cincy, you just feel that you are going out there and running against the grain – angering people and taking such a risk.  Cincinnati is most certainly not alone in this, but it is just automatic in people’s minds that if you need to leave your house you get in the car or truck.

A surprisingly segregated city, both in terms of income/social standing and of race.

I also find Cincinnati to be very much a place of the haves and the have-nots. Wealth and status are worn on the sleeve. The kind of car you drive appears to be very crucial (and predictable). Let’s just say the Kias and the Hyundais are reserved for the young, the (non-wealthy) college students and those who don’t earn much money. If you have a respectable career or social standing you are not seen in one of these vehicles.

This, I believe, is tied into the very evident attitude toward pedestrians. If you attempt to get around without the aid of a motor vehicle, you are disregarded, disrespected and endangered. You are seen as a second-class citizen at best. It is clear – and I certainly noticed this when I lived across the river in Northern KY as well –that people on foot had just better stay the heck out of the way of drivers or pay the price. Drivers will turn in front of you, cutting you off almost without fail – this whether or not you are in a crosswalk. Shocking and disturbing is the frequency of reports of pedestrians killed or injured by drivers in Cincinnati.

So, if you try to get somewhere without firing up a motor vehicle, you are in a sense viewed as a have-not – a loser or someone who must be down on their luck. After all, why doesn’t that loser walking along the street have a car? I submit to you that there is a racist component tied into this. I observe that a lot of the people walking places are black. Do I think that they are walking for exercise, or because they chose to leave the car at home? No, I suspect many of them cannot afford to drive. There you have the tie-in to the haves and the have nots. It does seem to me that to a large degree the black population of Cincinnati is struggling financially. So, as a white man, I am grouped by drivers into that same perceived class of people (not that most drivers do much actual thinking behind the wheel). I am walking or running to the grocery store so I am a loser who wishes he had a car. Now, consider the ridership of the “Metro” buses around town. Look at the race of the riders. I’ve observed that it is overwhelmingly black. Mass-transit options should be embraced by all, and used widely, not just those who aren’t able to afford to drive a personal car.

Some of you will misconstrue my words. To you, I say: Be honest – with yourself, then with others.

Here’s why Cincinnati is not that bad:

A city of “firsts,” “only-s” and “biggests.”

I often learn of facts regarding Cincinnati that reveal that this or that was the first of its kind in the nation. I learn of places, establishments, or things that are the biggest, or the only, in the country.

The Reds were the first professional baseball team (right? I don’t know for sure).

The Cincinnati Zoo is the second oldest zoo in the country.

I learned from the owner of a local brewery that Cincinnati’s water treatment plant is something like the most respected in the nation. That really surprised me. I guess if you’re pulling drinking water from the Ohio River you had better be very good at cleaning it. Of course, the quality of the water that you have at your house depends heavily on the condition, and length, of the pipes between the plant and your house. So here we have a “best.”

I learned on one of the OTR guided tours (which we finally took when out-of-town guests came to visit) that much of – most of? – the iron work like balcony railings and the like in New Orleans was made in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati was one of the largest brewing cities in the nation before prohibition.

You get the idea. Some examples are slipping my mind at the moment. Feel free to share more examples in the comment section!

Good Parks

We do seem to have a good amount of parks, and they are pretty nice. I will mention the cool water fountains below in my list of observations. Even the ones that are in not-so-nice neighborhoods seem nice. This is, at least, my observation. I certainly have not been to all that many of our parks, nor have I visited the majority of the city’s neighborhoods, but it’s held true for me so far.

Surprising number of companies and businesses

You’ve got Kroger, P&G, Gorilla Glue and more very well-known companies here. We have the very respected Cincinnati Children’s. Beyond that, there seem to be a lot of businesses in Cincinnati. Seems a good thing in terms of jobs, though I haven’t really explored what it’s like to job-search here.

Pro football and pro baseball. Two nationally-known colleges

I am decidedly not a sports fan. I watch MMA as often as I can, as I have trained in it and I study self defense; but sports fan – yeah no. Still, it is pretty significant to me that we have the Bengals and the Reds – not just in our state, but right here in our very city. We also have Xavier and UC. That’s two (it seems to me) pretty major colleges right here. Now, it sucks, and baffles me, that both of them are surrounded by pretty sketchy areas of town; but at least they are here.

“The Banks”

I’m not up on the politics surrounding The Banks development in Downtown near the riverfront. I am quite sure there are many who are anti-The Banks and are resentful about it – just as you can easily find folks who are anti and resentful about every single issue and thing. All I know is that what I have seen and experienced of Downtown Cincinnati is cleaner and nicer than Downtown Seattle. There also (at least used to be) far, far fewer panhandlers here than Seattle. I have surmised that enforcement must be responsible for this. The situation has been changing, though, in recent times for some reason.

Hello! Brewery taprooms being legalized, and the appreciable springing up of new breweries.

This one pretty much speaks for itself. We moved to Cincinnati – about three years ago – at just the right time! I’m not saying we have an awesome number of breweries here, but it is reaching a level where I am starting to respect it.

Fairly consistent positive developments in the area of Multi-Use Trails and bicycle facilities.

Here again, I am not saying things are great, or even good; but it really has (I reluctantly admit) been surprising how consistently I hear of positive things happening in this regard. Let’s see: Off the top of my head: Delta Ave bike lanes which I use often. Madison Ave bike lanes which see me often. A connector trail between Lunken and Armleder. The new trail from Newtown to *almost* Lunken. (who knows when that bridge will get built) The very recent definitive good news regarding The Wasson Way trail! It is still a long way off from being all that useful but I relish the idea of rolling on the new pavement over in Evendale or wherever the first section will be constructed. The multi-use trail along Wilmer was recently redone – in concrete no less. It used to be a bicycle wheel-bender at each driveway you cross. Now it is nice, to my knowledge. There just seems to be a consistent, albeit low-power, move in the right direction in terms of livability for not just cyclists but for all.

The Little Miami River, and the three squares

I feel fortunate, and appreciate the area of town in which I live. We are sort of in the SE section of Hyde Park. It is easy to get on Linwood Ave. and get down to access to the River, where I know of two separate kayak (or canoe) put-ins. You can also have your dog swim there, and maybe go swimming yourself. It’s very cool to have a river so close!

Where I live, we can walk/run to all three squares: Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout, and Oakley. Some are farther than others, as you might imagine. The point is that it is nice to have, in a city where there are plenty of areas that are run down and not safe, these viable decent areas with community spaces – even small green spaces – and a few shops and restaurants that are useful to me/my family.

I am certainly forgetting some things, but I have laid out my two tales of this city. Now, on to the poignant, funny and/or frustrating observations! More soon! Check back, PedalPinters!

March 2nd update follows:

Oh, Cincinnati, why can’t we have nice things?

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This pic was taken last Sunday outside the entrance/exit of a local brewery. I won’t name the place because it’s not their fault. I first thought this might be chewing tobacco, but it’s clear that it is not. As I left, I noticed another instance of this where someone apparently backed up to the wall and blew out a crap. I was all loaded up, including two full growlers, and rolling on the bike to my next stop so I did not take a pic of the second one. This is seriously messed up, people.

This was not on my list but does represent starkly and disgustingly one of my points regarding this city. Now, I am not simply taking a shot at the homeless (or necessarily blaming this on them) or suggesting that other cities don’t have public nuisance problems. This one by the way is not just a nuisance, it’s a disgusting health risk. This points, though, to what I’ve experienced in Cincinnati: You might try to enjoy something nice this place has to offer, but you will almost always have your experience affected by that base element of our local society that is ubiquitous.

Example: My family and I, for the first time, paid a visit  to the very nice area of the park at Eden Park that has the pond, and city overlook, play set, etc. We had been to the grassy area across the street, but not yet this place. We were initially trying to visit the Khron Conservatory for their annual holiday display, but there was a long line so we visited the park while we formulated an alternate plan.

We get into the park and just after I realize how nice it is, it becomes apparent that it is largely occupied by people just hanging around. “Hanging around? How dare they!?” you say. I know, I know how I sound; but I am talking about people for whom this beautiful park is just their hangout. You’ve got cars just pulling through slowly – not looking for parking. Perhaps most illuminating were the multiple signs in the parking lot, along the overlook end, that admonished people that it is not allowed to wash cars there. To reiterate: Signs prohibiting the washing of cars in the park parking lot. This is a big enough problem, apparently, at this park.

This reminds me of another example: Hyde Park Plaza. You know, the shopping center that uses the name “Hyde Park” to add class to itself, yet it’s located in Oakley. Granted, the place is essentially the closest, general-purpose shopping center to Hyde Park so I cut them a bit of slack on the name hijack.

Here’s the thing: We can’t have anything freaking nice! This shopping center is overall pretty nasty. You’ve got what the management company describes, laughably, as the “Commons.” This is simply the sidewalk leading from Kroger on through and around the place. Too bad the “Commons” is littered with trash, cigarette butts (and smokers), discarded alcohol containers and even urine. Hyde Park Plaza is also home to Michael’s (you know, that big store that sells art supplies, crafts and crafty stuff kids like). Thing is, this is the only Michael’s I’ve seen that greets customers with big signs that warn you that you are on camera.

I often run into the problem where I need/would love to be able to run my dog to this shopping center and briefly tie him out as I pop into, say, Ace Hardware, Bruegger’s Bagels (a sad example of Bruegger’s), or the like and pick up a quick item or two that we need. I know, however, that I can’t. Why? Well, it’s hard to describe, but it’s just obvious that some of the frequenters of this center would make trouble for us instead of minding their own business. It’s these people for whom the public spaces are their business and their space. It’s like the shopping center is in a bad neighborhood, yet it is not. By contrast, I do sometimes tie out my dog and pop into REI in the Rookwood shopping center quickly. I know there will not likely be a problem caused by people who have nothing better to do.

I’m certainly not trying to be elitist, and I am far, far from wealthy; but I live and let live instead of being a public nuisance and menace. Shouldn’t everybody? Cincinnati, why can’t we have nice things?

March 11 Update Follows:

Lizards! Who knew? Imported sometime in the ’50s from Italy? Anyone?

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See the little scaly friend there sunbathing?

March 12 Update Follows:

Ugly, jagged wires hanging off of power poles. It really is beyond me how the City, or the utility companies do not get sued for injuries resulting from this! I have had to physically protect my child and my dog from injury on this stuff. Seems kind of like just the way it is here, doesn’t it? People put up with this crap. I’ve seen this sort of stuff all over town.

 

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I’m Back!

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Well hello, PedalPinters!! What’s it been, two years? Sorry for such a long leave from my duties as your glorious leader; but, well, it started with the addition of that puppy I told you about. Keeping an eye on him, and keeping him from waking the house with barking was just a killer to sitting down and writing anything!

Life has returned sufficiently to normal now (yeah, challenging dog) and I’m so excited to share stuff with you!

I trust you have been PedalPinting along nicely. Have I? You bet your sweet bippy.

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One of my bikes at Urban Artifact. The place has since gotten more fully furnished so parking inside is not usually what I do these days. Awesome that I discovered their neat homemade bike rack out in the courtyard area!

 

Another obstacle to my joining you online has been that I lost many of the pictures I had taken for my piece regarding observations about Cincinnati from the viewpoint of an outsider. I recently found a decent amount of pics and look forward to putting together that work – not just as a one-year resident, but now as a three year resident! Lucky you!

Oh Hey. Been Busy Again But I’ve Got Good Stuff For You!

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You all may be wondering why no new posts lately.

Getting a new puppy who is pretty high maintenance is one reason.

Seems my time is so limited right now!

Rest assured my beer-by-bike adventures continue, and I really look forward to sharing some with you soon!

My observations after a year+ in Cincinnati are bursting from my mind and will find their way to yours before long!

An Adventure To Cellar Dweller Brewing

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Join me as I roll up to Morrow, OH to Cellar Dweller Brewing. This adventure was mostly on separated trail!

CellarDwellerLogo

I have known about Cellar Dweller pretty much from the beginning of my living here in Cincinnati. It was, however, one of the two local breweries that I considered unbikeable (the other being the very nice Mt. Carmel Brewing). Then came the day I went to the Lunken Beerfest a couple months ago or so. I stopped by the Cellar Dweller booth for some tastes. The conversation turned to the fact that I had biked to the Fest. The man told me that they sometimes have cyclists visiting the brewery (well, I think he might have said “all the time” but I think that has to be an exaggeration). He said they’re located just a bit off the trail.

That’s pretty much true.

Cellar Dweller’s beers are good! I was impressed at the Beerfest and I was again at the brewery. The experience at Cellar Dweller was a bit of a departure from the norm. See, Cellar Dweller is a fairly young baby of the larger and far more prominent business, Valley Vineyards. Cellar Dweller’s beers, as their slogan suggests, come from the cellars of Valley Vineyards. The place is basically a big restaurant with a big patio. Now, I say restaurant, but I don’t think they really serve food. They have some sort of thing going where they sometimes offer cheese plates, and they have big grills on the front patio where guests can bring their own meat and cook it. I guess they offer salads, desserts, etc. to go along with it as well.

It was interesting for this guy who is simply out for local craft beer. I found myself in a restaurant-like atmosphere. As the hour progressed, I saw more and more people, mostly elderly and not appearing to be hurting for money, filter in and take their reserved seats. Well, it is a winery I guess, and not exactly Napa.

See my fellow patrons. I feel young and rowdy.

See my fellow patrons. I feel young and rowdy.

By the way, I love wine and wineries. My wife and I used to make the 5 hour trek from Seattle to Walla Walla for spring wine release. We had a handful of neat wineries on Bainbridge Island as well.

I rolled in after some confusion as to where exit the trail. I was drenched in sweat on this 90 degree humid day, having pedaled some 35 miles. My bike locked up to the bike rack out front (that’s right, a bike rack!), my soaked shirt draped over the rack and my backup shirt donned, I entered the air-conditioned building after observing the expansive front patio and the guy lighting up the big barbecue grills.

As mentioned, I kind of blew it on my directions. I had investigated the route a couple days prior, consulting Google Street View to get an idea what it looks like where I was supposed to leave the trail and ride on-street the fairly short distance to the brewery. I should have boned up the day of my trip. When I neared Morrow, I saw a cross street that I suspected was where I needed to exit the trail and turn. I doubted myself and proceeded just beyond the street. Stopping to see if my phone could help me, I encountered a nice guy who slowed to ask if everything was okay. I took the opportunity to ask if he knew where Valley Vineyards was and if the street just behind us was the one that led there. Well, I thank the guy who was very nice, but between him and my phone, I was encouraged to proceed on the trail which turned out to take me some three miles too far. Then, I got off the trail and onto a busy road that began to go steeply uphill. My legs and body were not excited. I pulled over, checked my phone and decided I needed to go the other way. After trekking that way for a while on the busy road, I again pulled over, deciding to place a call to Valley Vineyards. Talking to the woman and thinking things through, I got an idea where I had gone wrong.

Yes, I had gone too far on the trail then pedaled around Morrow in vain. This as I was about drained of sweat.

Cellar Dweller is located a bit before you get into Morrow on the trail (coming from Cincinnati). The road at which you exit the trail is named Stubbs Mill Road, people. Remember it. One of the women at the brewery told me they had a sign up on the trail for a while, but it kept getting removed. There is actually a small wooden sign across the road as you approach on the trail that bears the road’s name.

THIS is the road.

THIS is the road. Get off the trail here and turn right! Then turn left at the light.

As you approach your road.

As you approach your road.

It looks like this once you're on the road. Barely visible in this pic is the big gravel pit on the left – a major landmark.

It looks like this once you’re on the road. Barely visible in this pic is the big gravel pit on the left – a major landmark.

 

Looking the other direction you would see the giant wine barrel Valley Vineyards sign. I didn't photograph it but I'm pretty sure you can find a pic of it.

Looking the other direction you would see the giant wine barrel Valley Vineyards sign. I didn’t photograph it but I’m pretty sure you can find a pic of it. Notice the little market where the proprietors of this place sell their own fruit and vegetables. Neat!

Right away I saw the red tap handles behind the counter and on the right, though visually they play as significant a role as does Cellar Dweller to Valley Vineyards. I knew what I was there for and, for me, there was no missing those tap handles. Oh yes, I was getting my Cellar Dweller beer.

That's Cellar Dweller over there on the wall.

That’s Cellar Dweller over there on the wall.

I was greeted by a nice young woman in what appeared to be almost a uniform. Tasters were my poison of choice here. They offer a set of seven tasters for $8. The woman readily offered, though, that they offer individual tasters for $1. This suited me better, though I ordered tasters of six of their currently available seven beers. It was a good deal, Pedalpinters. The tasters were unusually large (though they appeared to intentionally fill them less than full). As you see in the menu, Cellar Dweller’s beers are essentially $5/pint save a couple which are of the feebler variety. Yes, this seems to be the law of the land at breweries and beer establishments: only the beers much lighter in gravity come at a more affordable price. Maybe this is a foregone conclusion to most, but I don’t remember it always being that way. Is it an Ohio thing? Is it a Midwest thing? I’d have to go back and visit the Pacific Northwest to find out. Sadly, I am actually glad to see they only charge $5 at a maximum. The price of beer just keeps going up my friends. $5 is the new $4.

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I took my paddle of tasters and – no, actually the woman offered to carry them for me – I found a table in the cool somewhat dim dining room. All the tables had cards displayed on them with names and the time of the reservations. I was prepared for this, as I had called a total of three times leading up to my adventure to get a feel for the atmosphere there. More importantly, I needed to confirm that they would be open before I blew a day of travel in vain. The deal is, comrades who are just out for a bit of beer and a bike ride, the place takes reservations and fills up with diners and winers at 4 o’clock. Prior to that, though, you are welcome to visit and enjoy the beer (and wine). Just make sure you are ready to vacate your table before the reservation time unless you want an uncomfortable moment.

Makes you want to settle in and have a nice dinner with friends or family eh? Nah. I think I'll ride 30 miles home now.

Makes you want to settle in and have a nice dinner with friends or family eh? Nah. I think I’ll ride 30 miles home now.

Of the six Cellar Dweller beers I had, I enjoyed Dead Dweller the least. Dead Dweller is good. This tells you how I feel about these beers. Standouts for me are the Ryno amber which tasted a lot more like an IPA or hoppy pale than an amber. It is listed at 27 IBU but has to be hopper than that. The Lookout Stout and the Hoppy Poppy IPA are very good as well. Shawsome black IPA is good but not, to me, quite as good as the aforementioned. Just a matter of taste, but all quality beers! I’d like to try their wines sometime.

CellarDwellerBeerMenu

At first I sat at a table for two not far from the gift shop/counter. Later, I moved to a big table diagonally across the room that was next to a front window, as I craved more light and a view outside. This table had a reservation time of 6:00 compared to the 5:00 at my first table. It was getting close to this hour because I had left home later than I wished, having had to deal with a flat tire before departing and of course getting a bit lost on the way.

When I saw a significant amount of people saunter in and fill the area around the counter I figured I’d better get up there and pay lest I be caught waiting behind a crowd of distinguished guests, my time ticking away. I joined the crowd and settled up with the responsive friendly staff. To my surprise, there was a lull in the action a bit later for which I should have waited. 

From my window I was able to see my bike and the two other bikes locked to the rack that were there when I arrived. Yes, there were a couple other cyclists there, though I couldn’t tell who they were. I have the strong suspicion that most people that bike to Valley Vineyards do so from somewhere around Loveland (home of Cappy’s a place detailed in another of my posts), or maybe from some point to the North of the winery. I don’t know that the place sees many visitors from Cincinnati, a 65-70 mile round trip away.

After thoroughly enjoying my tasting experience, I finally used the restroom. Yes, I had downed about 1.75 liters of water since leaving home in addition to my beer and just now had to pee a little. That’s how much I sweat. It was time to take off and start the ride back home.

I exited on the gravel drive that runs parallel to the road, then joined the road. It’s not far until you reach the road where you turn right to reach the trail which is probably 1/3 mile away.

The ride on the trail this day was peaceful and pleasant but tiring and, frankly, boring. Two hours each way does get old. Of course there is also the ride to and from the trail from my neighborhood which you will see on the map.

I’m glad to have had this adventure and thus made it to the final Cincinnati brewery I had not visited. I’ll do it again, though maybe in the winter!

Thanks for joining me on this adventure.

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!

Coming Soon: A Year in Cincinnati: Observations

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Ah, Cincinnati. I’ve spent almost a year of my life here now, and I’ve been paying attention.

MetalSidewalkHoleWGrassSprout

Coming soon.

An Adventure to Mayday and Northside Tavern

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Join me as I roll over to the Northside neighborhood of Cincinnati to visit Mayday Northside and Northside Tavern. Both these places feature local craft beer (as thankfully just about every drinking and eating establishment does these days!). They also feature craft beers from other regions. The point is: good beer available and thus worth visiting.

For me, the craft beer is just about the only reason to visit Northside Tavern. That and its decent prices, especially during happy hour.

I discovered Mayday Northside more recently and narrowly decided to give it a try. Turns out I like it better than Northside Tavern. This opinion may change with future visits however. It happens that on my maiden visit to Mayday, there was a good bartender there who was professional and nice. He and I, in fact, wound up talking a fair bit. It was an indicator that he’s a either a genuinely open, friendly guy or understands the true meaning of customer service. He made me feel welcome despite the fact I didn’t visually fit the place’s vibe (as I rarely do anywhere). As I’ve talked about before, I certainly don’t expect or want my beertender to make conversation with me. I simply expect prompt, courteous service.

On that topic, I will mention that there is a bartender at Northside Tavern that has done a good job as well. Her name I remember as Billy. She’s a nice lady and makes the difference between my wanting to return and not bothering. One night springs to mind. I had made the ride to Northside Tavern from Pleasant Ridge using the longest route shown on the map (10 miles). It was this past winter and the temperature was about 20 degrees, not counting the wind chill, when I embarked on the adventure. Temperatures dropped as I rode, I believe. Snow also began to fall. I was using my mountain bike and riding on sidewalks for part of the journey. The ride took about an hour. By the time I was a few miles away, I was not having any fun. My hands were numb and I felt frostbite setting in on parts of my legs (wearing shorts as always). Billy was so sweet as she offered a bunch of concern – concern  I didn’t need, but appreciated. She gave me a mug of hot water to sip. She also all but insisted that I call a cab for a ride home rather than attempting to ride home. See, the weather was expected to deteriorate soon. She wrote down the number of three cab companies for me. What a sweet lady.  Turns out the ride home (who am I kidding – to MadTree Brewing) was much more enjoyable than the ride there. I think the wind was at my back a lot more.

Check out my map from Pleasant Ridge to Northside. It includes three routes. My preferred route is the one that includes the information pins.

http://goo.gl/maps/fqIId

I don’t have any pics of my visits to these two spots, and I don’t know if I’ll invest time in any updates to this post. The story’s pretty much told. Northside Tavern and Mayday Northside fit that description of several of the taverns I’ve experienced in Cincinnati. Gritty. Dirty in some cases. Offering a bit of relief from the silly-high prices many places charge for beer around here.

Next time I roll over to Northside, I’ll likely try Mayday first. If it goes like last time, it’ll be my only stop in the neighborhood.

I look forward to our next adventure together.

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!

An Adventure to Habits Cafe. On Foot!

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Join me as I stroll – not roll – down to Habits Cafe in Oakley. As I pointed out in my previous post, I have an arm that I had to have operated on. It kept me off my bike for weeks, and kept me from typing with two hands for a while as well.

Interesting graffiti in the bathroom.

Interesting graffiti in Habit’s bathroom.

During that time, I wasn’t going to let it keep me down, or inside the house! Living in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood of Cincinnati, options are few in terms of decent places to get a pint. MadTree is the obvious exception.

I’ve run down to Keystone Hyde Park, and its neighbor, Dutch’s. That run is three miles straight down Ridge/Marburg. Nothing exciting to report about that journey, though it’s a perfectly viable one especially with two wheel capability. The run is a bit annoyingly long, especially given the largely inhospitable conditions for pedestrians much of the way. Yes there are sidewalks most of the way, but it’s not a nice route. It becomes nicer as you get toward Hyde Park. I’m not being a snob here. In the ridiculousness that is Ridge Rd., or Marburg through most of Oakley, sidewalks are, in places, often blocked with trash like discarded mattresses, weeds and you name it – or the sidewalks are non-existant. A person out walking or jogging for pleasure or exercise is a rarity. Man, I can’t wait to get out of Pleasant Ridge.

More interesting graffiti.

More interesting graffiti.

One of the things my disability to ride a bike brought me was a bit of creativity in plotting an active beer outing.

The two Pleasant Ridge options, Gaslight Cafe, Molly Malone’s suck quite frankly. The service I’ve received there on my few visits has been abysmal. I know many people like those places, but crappy service, or lack of service all together (being ignored) is not my thing.

My mind turned to the question of where can I get on foot from here that’s viable? I give you this adventure’s route:

http://goo.gl/maps/QqOGE

For detailed information on what it takes to traverse Ridge Rd., see my post on Moerlein Brewery Taproom. The map of today’s adventure shows the same route down through there, but without the detail pins found in the map to Moerlein.

They have craft beer! Cutting edge! I almost walked home and got my car!

I passed this on my way there. A common phenomenon in these parts: a drive thru liquor joint. They have craft beer! Cutting edge! I almost walked home and got my car!

You get to leave lovely Ridge Rd. on the street where Steak & Shake is found. Cross the often busy street, then cut through parking lots. Pass in front of Target, then in back of Meier. Proceed across the movie theater parking lot. See the grass/dirt field ahead. Enter it, heading toward the chain link fence.

On my first tryout of this adventure that I had planned using Google Maps, I came very close to giving up and using the roadway instead of cutting through across the railroad tracks. I saw the fence, and didn’t see any openings in it, though I felt there had to be at least one. I knew for sure I wasn’t the first person who wanted to cut through here. At the last second, I saw a grocery cart in the corner of the fence to the right. Clearly this was here to help someone climb over the fence. Was I going to climb the barbed wire-topped fence with my arm in a sling? Of course not. But I moved toward the fence corner where the cart was located. I saw nothing viable. Turning back in defeat, my eyes scanned the fence one more time. That’s when I saw it. Behind the giant mound of dirt I assume was piled there during the excavation process for the building of the movie theater, I saw an opening in the fence! Eureka!

The interesting thing about this opening in the fence is that it appears a boulder rolled down the back of the hill and busted through the fence. It’s laying there on top of the knocked-down portion of the fence. Could it be that this opening in the fence, an opening which provides a critical link for walkers between Pleasant Ridge and Oakley was brought about by mere chance? Thought-provoking.

I crossed through with jubilance, then I crossed the railroad tracks. Right in front of me awaited a nice street with sidewalks. I was as good as there. A stroll through a neighborhood brought me to a sidewalk running along side Habits Cafe!

Habits is located in the heart of Oakley Square. It seems to have a restaurant side and a bar side, though seating for diners is throughout. The place is surprisingly lowbrow at the bar for what seems to also be a nice restaurant. Macro piss beer flows along side a nice little selection of regional and American crafts.

Every time I’ve visited, I’ve gotten decent-to-good service. They have almost always plopped a beer menu down in front of me, which I appreciate obviously. Their pricing on beer is surprisingly reasonable.

That’s about all I have to say about Habits.

I was quite psyched to find success on my snowy pedestrian adventure out of Pleasant Ridge and right into the back door of Oakley. Thankfully, I didn’t slip and fall on my arm at any point, which would have been pretty terrible.

Thanks for joining me on this unique outing. It really was an adventure for me with its uncertainty, discovery and success. It’s just what I needed at the time, and will hopefully come in handy some day for at least one of you readers.

I look forward to your company on my next adventure which will be awesomely on bicycle!

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!

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