EATON — Thirteen-year-old Kameron Sandifer is celebrating a major achievement after completing a week-long, 240-mile tour of the region with the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure in June.
GOBA’s 2016 path led 1,600 bicyclists throughout Preble County and parts of Butler and Montgomery counties, camping out overnight in various towns. Sandifer completed the trip with nine fellow members of Eaton’s Boy Scout Troop 78, as well as two troop leaders and two parents.
Sandifer’s participation could never have been predicted a year ago, according to his mother.
“A year ago, he could barely ride a bicycle,” said Michele Sandifer. “A few of the Boy Scout leaders — Geoff Current, mostly — really promoted GOBA and tried to convince my son to go on bike rides with them. [He] was very adamant that cycling was not for him.”
Eventually, Kameron agreed to give it a try, even purchasing a used bike from a garage sale last July, but, Michele said, his disinterest continued. However, an unseasonably warm day this January inspired a seven-mile ride with troop members, and the day’s experience changed his perspective.
Kameron decided to do GOBA after all, and longer rides followed throughout the winter and spring in preparation for GOBA’s formidable distance demands, but all the trips together totaled to just 60 mile — GOBA averages 50 miles a day.
Still, “All my friends from my troop were doing it,” Kameron said, “and it sounded like fun.”
“I was nervous,” said Michele, “especially since he just started riding a bike in January, but I felt comfortable knowing he was with those people and that he was within 30 minutes of me at all times.”
“It was kind of challenging at some times,” Kameron said, “and sometimes I wanted to stop, but I just kept going. I really wanted it to be done, but I felt accomplished after I finished it, real satisfied.”
Regular food stops are an important part of GOBA’s routine in order to keep riders replenished. Kameron particularly enjoyed those, citing Miamisburg’s TJ Chump’s and Hamburger Wagon as favorites from the tour schedule.
“I liked Oxford,” he said of his favorite town on the tour. A layover in the college town (with optional side trips) meant two days for riders to relax and explore.
“I liked their rec center and being able to swim in the pool,” he said. “I got to play soccer and basketball in the park, too.”
The tour’s first night in Oxford, however, a major thunderstorm moved through the region, bringing high winds and nearly a half inch of rain.
“I was worried sick that night,” Michele said.
“The tornado sirens started going off around two in the morning,” Kameron said. “They got us up and took us indoors, and I was so tired, I just found somewhere to lie down on the floor and went to sleep. It was so cold but I couldn’t stay up. When they let us go back out to our tents, ours was kind of wet inside, and somebody else’s was flooded, so they had to sleep in ours. So there were four of us in a wet tent that night.”
Despite the challenges, Kameron has already decided to do next year’s tour, which will travel the countrysides and towns of another region in Ohio.
“My husband said he wants to do it next year, too,” Michele said. “He said if Kameron can do it, he can do it. One of Kameron’s friends and his dad will do it with them, so it’ll be a father-son trip next time.”
Reach Duante Beddingfield at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @duanteb_RH.