2014 Tour de Corn – Part 2

Favorite-Indiana-Vista

Bad pavement on my favorite stretch of Indiana country road

Bike Shops are Closed on Mondays?

Thinking it would be interesting to ride my bike to a couple of local bike shops, one of which is known to me as a good source of New Old Stock equipment, I had mapped a course using RideWithGPS.com for Monday ambitious in scope. Did I mention that Cyclemeter consistently failed to function during my Indiana stay? It was totally useless, managing to record only overall ride time. After returning home, I finally had the sense to check the app’s help feature; turns out I should have restarted the IPhone after updating the app. Duh. Of course, the real “duh” is that it took me over about 10 days to check the “help” feature.

A long ride through two or three counties on chip-and-seal, or ‘chipseal,’ roads – most of them unfamiliar to me – was what I needed to counteract the bite of Sunday evening’s dog. My injured calf was bruised, swollen and sore Monday morning, but evidenced no sign of infection.

Food For Athletic Endeavors

Because I’d forgotten to bring pre-workout drink, energy gels and high-performance ride food, as well as post-workout recovery food, I had to rely entirely upon oatmeal for breakfast and trailmix for snacks (the kind without anything that will melt), powdered Gatorade I got at a supermarket to drink on the bike (I buy all my other pre-packaged ‘performance foods’ at a local scratch-n-dent grocers for about 20% of normal retail – honestly, who’d pay retail for that stuff?), and sandwiches and other normal, household foods for after-ride recovery. I packed some trailmix into two snack-sized ziplock baggies, mixed up two 28 oz. bottles of Gatorade, ate a half-cup of instant oatmeal made with boiling water (because who wants the potential problems posed by breakfast raisins on a long ride in the country?).

I’ve been mixing my Gatorade a lot weaker, of late. Although I like it best when mixed to a dark, orange (or blue) with enough powder that I can crunch the undissolved granulated bits. I enjoy the bold, sugary taste, but have found I go through it faster and I’m thirstier when I drink it that way. Mixed weak, the stuff tastes like orange colored and orange-and-salt-tainted tapwater, which it is. I guess I could make my own from household ingredients for next to nothing, but I probably won’t be doing that.

Frame Pump

Because I’d forgotten to bring my floor pump on the trip, I had to use the Miyata’s frame pump. The pump, brand of which I’ve forgotten but will make note of and write about another time, can be used for both Presta and Schrader valve stems. The pump has a handy pressure gauge, has a fold-out stabilizer for standing on, as well as a fold-out handle. Still, it’s a bear to pump air with the little device, but it worked well enough for week or so up north.

Bad Pavement & Windsor

Windsor-Street-Signs

I printed out a cue-sheet from RideWithGPS and set out. Kind of cool that morning, but I warmed up as I rode. The pavement got much worse the closer I got to Selma. Several of the roads I needed had signs that’d been knocked off, possibly by tractor or grain-truck bumps. I stopped at a T-intersection to ask directions from a farmer moving rocks the size of cinder-blocks and bigger onto a trailer with a tractor’s bucket. He looked a lot like Vincent Price and didn’t know the name of the road that went off perpendicular, but thought it might be the one I wanted. It was probably the worst-paved road on which I traveled all week. I pedaled on to a small – not even a town, really – cluster of houses called Windsor. Picturesque and like something from another time; I stopped and snapped a street signs picture. Nothing sinister happened to me and I found the next road on my cue-sheet.

Selma

Goldman's-Closed-MondayGoldman's-Bike-Shop-Sign

Rain fell some, during this ride, both early and later in the day. I’d kept my cue sheet folded and under my Iphone in a jersey pocket so rainwater wouldn’t make the ink run. Still, by the time I’d reached Selma, the printed page was damp with ambient moisture and my sweat. Goldman’s bike shop was closed. Who could have guessed that a bike shop would be closed on a Monday? I met a man outside the shop who also was surprised the store was closed. He’d come to Goldman’s hoping to look at some fat-bikes for beach cruising. Dunno how far he’d come and don’t know whether he returned to Goldman’s another day.

Cue Sheet Problems

I looked at my cue sheet and started to ride out of Selma to find the next bike shop on my list, but the street names on the page did not bear much correspondence to what I was seeing on the ground. I stopped at Corner Cupboard market next to the town’s ball fields in order to refill one water bottle and ask directions. I parked my bike against one of the picnic tables on the patio, out front, but the door to the interior was locked. The woman visible inside the café section motioned to my right to indicate entry at the other door.

I walked all the way in to the counter and asked permission to fill up my water bottle from the pop dispenser. I also asked to buy a slice of breakfast pizza, as I was pretty hungry by this time. She put it in a box and I took it to the cash register, up front, where another woman told me there would be no charge for the pizza slice because it had been out of the oven over 45 minutes and she didn’t want customers to feel they’d not got something good for their money. The women at the counter when queried about the directions on my cue-sheet, gave me different directions that made sense based on what I’d already seen riding in to town. I also asked for and got another piece of free pizza and ate them outside, at a picnic table.

Selma-VFW-Flags-&-CannonSelma-VFW-Cannon

On my way out of Selma, I snapped a picture of my bike leaned up against a cannon by the flags outside the VFW hall. That breakfast pizza was weighing pretty heavy in my gut the first few miles out of Selma.

Smithfield & Ruthless Steel Bridge

Smithfield-Indiana

I followed the directions given by the women at Corner Cupboard. I pedaled into a town of about eight houses called Smithfield. The sign on a bent-from-having-been-crashed-into sign on my right, near an abandoned-looking bare wood-frame house with barking dogs penned in back told me I was in Smithfield. I stopped and snapped a picture, knowing I’d regret it if I didn’t. Where the road leading downhill through Smithfield ended at a T-intersection, I turned right, again as advised by the kind women at Corner Cupboard market. The road got rougher, but not as bad as the road I took to Windsor, and it led to a rusted steel bridge with wood slats or roadbed. The bridge probably spanned Prairie Creek, but it may also have been the White River, although that is doubtful. I enjoyed the sound made by my bike’s wheels riding over the bridge so much, I turned around and went back over it; also smoother than the road. Snapped some pictures and pedaled on.

RuthlessOld-Bridge-MiyataOld-Steel-&-Wood-Bridge

Missed Turn

I missed my turn and wound up on the marina-side of Prairie Creek Reservoir and found Cave Baby’s, while their trailer was on site, was not open for business by the boat dealer/chandlery. I’ve bought a rider’s snack there the previous two years I’ve toured the farmland around Muncie, but this year, probably because the Fourth did not fall early or midweek, was unable to get the fried egg and bacon biscuit I’d come to expect. Also, I needed to fill up my water bottle again and wanted a place to get off the bike for a rest.

Muncie Sailing Club

Muncie-Sailing-Club

I rode on to the Muncie Sailing Club where, seeing no vehicles on the premises, I turned in to the driveway and rode over the grass to a picnic pavilion lakeside. The created order provided me a conveniently screened area nearby to hydrate the already luxuriant foliage. I also needed to refill my water bottle (usually try not to consume all of the water from both bottles, but refill and switch use of each bottle as I go), but it appeared property’s water had not been turned on yet for the season, even though it was already the end of June. As I continued my ride around the lake, I was able to get water from a spigot and hose behind Harris Chapel Church of the Nazarene.  My cessationist pastor will opine that I am no prophet, but I was grateful for the cup of cold water.  I’ve found a lot of country church properties have garden hoses or spigots convenient for filling water bottles when far from any commercial establishments.

Another Closed Bike Shop

When I finally arrived at the other bike shop I’d planned to visit, I found it, also, is closed on Mondays. On the Cardinal Greenway, while on my way back to the farm for a late lunch, I met a young man who said he was riding south to Hagerstown to see a friend and planned to return to Muncie later in the evening. He was riding a 29’er mountain bike of a brand I’d never before seen. Had some bright colors on it.

Mine was maybe a 38 mile day? It seemed a lot longer.

Lost Again and Lunch at Muncie

Tuesday, I again mapped a route on RideWithGPS and printed a cuesheet. I planned to ride to a nearby lake I’d never before visited. One of the things I wanted to do while we were in Indiana was to take my wife and son paddling in the canoe, and from what I’d read online, the lake I planned to visit was much more canoe-friendly, and better for swimming than Prairie Creek Reservoir. I figured the ride would be no more than about 30, round-trip. Once again, though, I found that conditions on the ground bore little resemblance to my cuesheet as I got to within five or six miles of the lake.

Gravel-&-Dirt-Roads

Beyond where the pavement ended

I got lost and the pavement ended. Some of the counties in the vicinity around Muncie are getting huge electricity generating windmills, doubtless funded and profits being reaped by Chinese communist Obama sponsors. Isn’t Harry Reid of Nevada in on the windmill profit thing? Anyway, because huge trucks are carrying huge sections of windmill deep into farmland over narrow, badly paved roads, the companies have torn up the pavement and spread gravel on the roads those trucks travel most. About the point I got badly turned around, the pavement gave out. I think I rode six to eight miles on unpaved roads. I learned about lateral drift, but did not crash. The Miyata 610’s a great bike to be lost with – a forgiving frame, I think is the term given the way it handled my riding on gravel and dirt roads. Apple maps were no use. When I finally found the main highway and knew where I was again, I gave up the lake expedition as a bad job and thought, “Heck with it. I’ll ride to Muncie for lunch.”

Muncie-Grafitti-Wall

At Muncie, I saw some high school age kids riding BMX and mountain bikes on the Cardinal Greenway trail, past the Muncie Graffiti Wall, and asked directions to a good place to get a hamburger. They suggested I keep on until McGalliard where there are more and better places to eat than a mall that could be reached by turning right and riding a couple of miles to my right where I might find a food court or a Burger King. McGalliard, then, where I’d eaten with family numerous times on car trips to the city. I was hoping Mancino’s would be close by the intersection of the Greenway with busy commercial artery, but when I arrived, I found a Chick-fil-A not far down the road on my left.  I walked my bike maybe a quarter mile to the restaurant along the grassy verge of derelict-looking medical building and a busy car lot.

Muncie Chick-fil-A

Leaning my bike up against the building out front, where there’s a sort of outdoor dining area, I left gloves and helmet, but kept on the loud yellow Route 66 cycling cap I bought from Kucharik for my young son and he’d let me wear. We hadn’t brought his bike (nowhere around the farm for him to safely ride), but he wanted to bring the cap.

I was dressed in sweaty, perhaps ill-fitting cycling clothes that may not have flattered middle-aged frame, but the Chick-fil-A staff was friendly, helpful and welcomed me to dine indoors when I told them I’d take my order to eat at an outside table to spare the other customers the stench of my sweat. I think I ordered a chicken salad of some sort, waffle fries and a shake. Food, as usual, was better than average fast food fare, but the restaurant’s staff made the experience pleasantly memorable. Good job, Muncie Chick-fil-A!

Wal-Mart Bike Fail

On the way back, as I was leaving Muncie, I again met the young man I’d seen the previous day. He was walking his bike toward Muncie on the Greenway, and we stopped and chatted for a minute or two. He told me he’d taken his bike, which he’d bought at a Wal-Mart, offroad and he showed me where the rear derailleur had torn loose as he rode through tall grass and maybe sticks. He said he’d eaten as I made to offer him a snack from the Miyata’s seatbag. We said goodbye and each kept on the other way.

Sore Butt

Eye-Focus-Calibration

After that, I rode back to the farm. By about the 55th mile of my ride, my butt ached and pedaling became difficult.  I stopped a couple of times along the way to rest.  At one stop, my attention was for no other reason than a need to recalibrate my optics drawn to one particular tree in the middle distance.  By the 59th mile, my ride had become about unbearable. I am not sure whether that is because the bike’s saddle is unsuitable for rides longer than 50 miles, or whether I don’t take enough rides in the greater than 50 mile range to become accustomed to the effect upon my butt.

Cornfield

By the time I got back to the house, I was ready for a hot shower and a mid-afternoon lunch.

Tour de Corn–Riding Indiana, Part Two

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

Hwy-35-NorthLong-RoadRough-RoadFarm-Country-Vista

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

Courthouse-TankMain-Street-Welcome

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.

Full-Monument-1Full-Monument-2Full-Monument-3

Monument-figure-2Monument-Figure-1Monument-Figure-3Monument-Figure-4

Monument-Relief-1Monument-Relief-2Monument-Relief-3

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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.

Upper-Facade

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.

Farm-Road

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.

Muncie-RabbitPark-Structure

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.

Greenway-White-FlowersBlountsville-YardsBlountsville-Flag

Saturday

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. 

Blountsville-Lighting-RodBountsville-Dirt

Blountsville-Blue-WindowBlountsville-Star-House

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.

Horses

Last photo of the day, Saturday 7/7/12