Corn Maze Conclusion
With only about five miles to pedal back to the house, eating the rest (all three) of my Wal-Mart generic fig newton cookies and quaffing the remainder of my Gatorade was a pretty safe bet. I knew where I was and where I was going. No problem. I was about spent, however, when I rolled up to the garage. I think I took a shower, changed clothes, ate a quick lunch, and then conked out beside my little boy for a much-needed nap.
Independence Day Ride
On Wednesday, I rode another 25 or so miles, and this time I studied the map more carefully, then set out across the county as opposed to along the main highway. After the previous day’s tri-county corn-maze ride, this one was easy. Or mostly easy, because when I got to the place where the road T-ed, it took about two miles of false starts to figure out the right direction to pedal. But I never mistook my turns again that week.
The road pictured third from left, above, was the roughest unbroken surface upon which I rode last week. All of them, save the greenway and the main highways, were pretty rough, though, and examples of chip seal paving.
War Memorials and Independence Day Decorations
On previous trips to Indiana I’d driven through one of the local county seats and there observed an unusual war memorial on the courthouse square. Wednesday afternoon, my father-in-law and I drove out there and I took some pictures. A large column with four free-standing figures below and one at the top, the monument featured four inscribed plaques, representations of cannon, crenellations and four small towers, a colonnade in relief, and a relief depicting scenes of battle. Click on the thumbnails below to view the images larger.
Thursday’s for Resting and Test-Rides
Having done more cycling in four days than I usually do in two weeks, I thought it would be a good idea to rest on Thursday by spending an hour or so at the YMCA in town. Because I’ve been neglecting the development of my upper body’s strength since I’ve taken up cycling, all I managed at the gym was about an hour. On the drive back to the farm, I stopped and snapped a few pictures of a large derelict brick building I’d guess is over a hundred years old. Most of the photos were a bit dreary-looking, so I haven’t included any here. Well, just one. I tried the door, but it was locked and I sought no other means of ingress.
I can’t remember whether it was this day or a previous day that my father-in-law and I drove to Selma to see what Goldman’s bike shop had in stock. Duane (hope I spelled that right) has usually got about a dozen used bikes for sale out front, and heaven knows what used parts in the workshop portion of his building. For awhile, I’d been trying to get my father-in-law to take the Trek Navigator 1.0 I formerly owned once I decided it was not something I wanted to keep riding, but he would not accept the bike as a gift thinking that it might wind up disused in the barn if his enthusiasm waned. Jim tried out a used Diamondback mountain bike. I tried out a Giant Defy, having read a good review of the model. I learned after falling (and receiving a compliment on my ability to roll out of it) how to get in and out of toe-clips. I loved the bike – especially the very wide handlebars. Duane said he didn’t have a three-ring Shimano Biopace touring crankset (which I want for the Miyata), just a two-ring, like the one I’ve got on the Razesa.
Later, on Thursday, I drove out by myself to Greenway500 to try out a Fuji Gran Fondo, the one with the Italian flag colors that I nicknamed The Pizza Box. Michael thought, and I can’t now recall why, the blue and white version of the bike would be a better fit for me, so he got that one ready. He explained how to shift the gears – brake levers are shifters on that bike, and there’re smaller levers behind them to shift the gears back the other way. The gears are indexed and that, taken with the ease with which the levers shift, was a revelation. The Fuji handled the rough chip seal road in front of the bike shop easily, and was fast on the greenway’s smooth paved surface. I tried out a Scott straight-bar road bike, but the seat height was wrong, I disliked the gearing, and I hated it. After returning it, Michael got the Pizza Box ready. That was a GREAT bike. I probably rode it three or four miles. I liked everything about it – the only thing that would’ve improved it would’ve been Biopace or, possibly, modern off-round chain rings.
Sitting in the shop after riding that second Gran Fondo, I must’ve looked like I was having a small, bad seizure – staring blankly while deep in thought – because Michael asked whether I was okay. Yup, I said, I was reflecting on whether I was ready to abandon the obsolete tech I’ve been riding since January to enter the world of modern bicycling – a much harder choice than you may imagine. Finally, I told him I’d check with Caution-Lady about the price, said goodbye, and drove back to the house.
The Cautious One said, “No.”
My father-in-law and I got the old bikes out of the barn – a child’s Murray 10-speed, a Huffy women’s three-speed, and brown Raleigh Sprite. I pumped up the tires on the Sprite and rode it around the drive; it didn’t shift well, but the Brooks saddle was surprisingly comfortable and had a 1974 Honolulu bike license plate hanging off it. The Murray must have weighed 30 pounds; the Huffy had internal gear hub in back. We talked about the bikes, and I put them back in the barn.
Thursday night I had a series of strange and entertaining dreams. In one, I starred in a long Dr. Who episode that brought us into contact with the Rabbit People – that is, human-looking people who were actually very large rabbits. Great dream. Thoroughly enjoyed it. That was followed by another dream with just the Rabbit People, no Dr. Who, and another wild adventure.
Friday – Another Ride and a Rabbit
I can’t remember which day I bought them, but I got a set of Serfas USB rechargeable front and rear lights (the kind designed to make one visible to motorists, not the kind one should expect to see by) to replace the execrable-because-unreliable Blackburn Flea lights I need to see about returning. Every time I hit a bump with the bike, the red Blackburn light shuts off. Can’t ride more than a minute anywhere, much less rural Indiana, without riding striking an imperfection in the road’s surface sufficient to disable the light. Super irksome. The Serfas lights have only one LED each, whereas the Blackburn lights have four each, but I’d rather have two bright LEDs (one front, one rear) that works reliably than eight that only theoretically provide better light or visibility.
Friday morning, I suited up and set out after breakfast for what had become my habitual ride across parts of two counties to the greenway then a longish but relatively easy ride to some point I’d make up my mind about as I was riding and then back to the house. Near an overpass close to Muncie I saw a rabbit in a park, posed my bike for a photo by some strange wooden structure adjacent the park’s drainage lake.
I rode through Blountsville, again and got some pictures of houses that looked inhabited and lawns that looked tended. I finally snapped a photograph of a greenway flower I’d been meaning to photograph all week, but hadn’t, yet. One of the things that I liked about Blountsville, even though it’s deteriorating streets bespoke a ghost-town, was that several of the houses that looked properly maintained were decorated with flags or bunting for the Independence Day holiday week.
On Saturday, the rest of the extended family drove to a many-miles-distant town for a picnic with cousins, uncles, aunts. I stayed at the house to get some work done. After about midday, when temperatures were about as hot as they were going to get, and after I’d eaten a large-ish lunch, I squeezed my middle-aged legs and torso into my by-now-in-need-of-another-wash cycling garb, filled up the water bottles with powdered Gatorade/water mix, put some pretzels and some other quick snacks in a bag and headed out again. This time I planned to ride only as far as the Greenway500 bike shop and back again.
I and my bicycle were about the only things moving on the country lanes I rode to the greenway. And upon the greenway, itself, I think I passed only one or two other cyclists during my ride. Pedaling seemed to take much more effort in the heat and I became thirstier faster consuming more of the Gatorade faster than any previous day. I refilled my water bottle from the sink at the bike shop. Michael was distracted with a computer software problem he said had been plaguing him all day and tying up a lot of his time with tech support calls. I needed to eat, I was a little shaky. I took some more pictures in Blountsville and ate my snack under a blue-window in the side of church building the purpose of which was made known only by its size, shape, and roof shingles patterned in a cross either side; no sign with words proclaimed any denominational or other affiliation.
Eventually, I made it back to the house, showered, changed, ate something for supper, and tried to work on my project. Thus ended my 2012 Tour de Corn visit to Indiana. I did some riding every day, and most days covered more distance each day than I usually ride at home on a Saturday, the day I reserve for longer rides. Not once did I even seriously consider getting the Grumman canoe out of the barn-loft. It was way too hot to expect the family to indulge my whims with a lakeside picnic, and the White River, over near Yorktown and Daleville, I guessed, would have little enough water flowing in these days of rain-free and drought-like conditions. I don’t know whether I’m ready to ride in Stepford wearing Lycra yet, but we’ll see. Nobody ever really looks at cyclists, anyway, to identify them as individuals. So on a bike, my anonymity is mostly assured.
Last photo of the day, Saturday 7/7/12