I dare not venture underneath the Covered Bridge, but curiosity may get the best of this cat next time through. Last night the Covered Bridge tallied another victim. The 2nd I’ve been party to this year. The rider made it through thankfully with all his teeth and parts intact. A severely bent Easton rim was the only toll the bridge exacted from him for trying to ride the tire-width gapped planks of the bridge deck. (For more on the history of the bridge and past victims, see previous articles here)
While he was relatively lucky, I can only imagine in the years of the bridge's existence, others may not have fared as well losing bottles, keys, seat bags, deraileurs, even whole bikes to the bridge. I’m convinced that underneath the Covered Bridge lies not a peaceful Clermont County creek with buzzing dragonflies and flowered lily pads, but a gaping purgatory of cycling history. A pile of bent chromed fork steel bikes with Mafac and Suntour serve the base for a mountain of dented aluminum Cannondales and despoked Mavic Open Pro’s dangling from Shimano hubs. These days the Covered Bridge hunger growls for carbon frames, Kyseriums, Sram Red and Campy 11.
Thankfully the rider, my teammate TJ, managed to stay upright and ride through the bridge's jaws. However, upon inspection at the exit of the bridge, the wheel was bent enough to hit the brake pads and stop on both sides when spun up. A secondary danger of the bridge is that it is about twenty miles from Cincinnati, a long walk or miserable wait to call and get a ride home. Without anyone in the group carrying a spoke wrench, the wheel was passed to Mitch, an expert mechanic and owner of BioWheels in Madeira. Mitch carefully found the bent area on the wheel, double checked his precise diagnosis and BANG! With a single resounding whomp against a tree, like a blacksmith he hammered it straight enough to ride home on. He added, that this was not the first time he wonked a wheel into shape at the Covered Bridge. It certainly won’t be the last.