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.

2014 Tour de Corn–Part 1

Saturday-Sky
Mr. Badwrench

This year, I started my Tour de Corn sans bicycle having maladjusted the Miyata’s rear derailleur in an attempt to correct a shifting problem. Probably should have taken a picture of the results of my labor, but didn’t think of it until right now. Mr. Badwrench – that’d be me.

Razesa Unsuitable for Longer Rides

The Razesa I’ve found increasingly problematic for longer rides because the ancient Master saddle numbs my genitalia after about 20 miles, the bike’s handlebars are too narrow for my shoulders on longer rides, and the Gimli’s axe-head MKS Lambda pedals don’t work well with stiff-soled cycling shoes I like to wear on longer rides.

Mechanical Intervention

I took the Miyata to Indiana after contacting Michael at Greenway 500 to see if he could address the bike’s problems on the day after my family was scheduled to arrive at the farm. Michael wrote back saying he does not schedule mechanical interventions on Saturdays, his prime retail sales day, but I could take my chances and show up with the bike. The bike might be ready in a few minutes to several hours, depending.

By the time I arrived at Greenway 500, Michael was helping another customer whose mountain bike’s presenting problem was repeated flatting. He treated the condition, in consultation with the bike’s owner – a normal-seeming guy not quite sixty who reminded me of Roman legionnaire – not very tall, but alert and competent-seeming without the overweening arrogance one finds in some ‘elite’ cyclist types.

I didn’t mind waiting, and learned something about mountain bike tires, rims, tubes, rim-tape, spokes, and so forth by paying attention to the conversation.

Michael’d got a couple of new chairs for the shop from Ikea which inspired greater confidence than the worn-out Labrador couch that’d been in the shop for the last couple of years I’d visited. With the exertion of effort with both hands, the rear derailleur was separated from the metal pie-pan spoke protector adjacent the freewheel, followed up by other needed adjustments. Apparently, I’d done the bike’s drive-train no permanent harm. Also got new bar-wrap. The old had been shredded on the left side, where I’d crashed once and the bike had fallen maybe twice. I completely chickened-out in the colors department and went with brown, again. The Salsa tape looks great, though, so I’m happy with my choice.

I don’t think I rode anywhere Saturday, maybe four or five miles? Dunno.

Fat Sunday

Sunday morning we went to church service with the family at the large denominational First Church where my wife and I were married on a cold day about 15 years ago. The old building’s roof fell in, and the congregation has a large, new facility. That Sunday’s program was the church’s Vacation Bible School finale.

Weird Animals

The VBS had acquired it’s material from Group, Inc. – the Weird Animals theme: http://www.group.com/vbs/weird-animals . Each age group from the VBS stood up front, the an adult leader said something about the children’s participation during the previous week, and the children sang a song or two learned during the week. On large video screens all around the auditorium, while the children stood up on the platform in rows to sing their songs, slick music videos for each of the songs played. Bright, flashy colors and a lot of movement from cameras and happy-looking young people, in addition to an overwhelmingly loud audio presence repeatedly derailed my attempts to pay attention to the flesh and blood kids up front in the auditorium. I noticed that no one else seemed to be paying attention to the children up front, either. Kind of a lousy thing to do to the kids. I mentioned my criticisms to my father-in-law afterwards, and he said what I witnessed has become the norm for that congregation – loud audio/visual in addition to frequent “technical difficulties” that are actually operator error. Vis-à-vis speaking about my concerns with the congregation’s pastor, my father-in-law shared a phrase he’d learned from his father, “Might as well save your breath to cool your soup.”

Mexico versus Netherlands

We joined another family for lunch after the VBS service at a Mexican restaurant where we were able to watch Mexico v. Netherlands on televisions placed all around the dining area. All of the waiters wore green Mexican national team soccer jerseys. Service was dead slow, but we were able to finish our meal and get on the road before the Orange victory. Predictably, I overate and felt like a fat, hominid slug.

Ride to Farmland

Pinch-Before-the-Storm

Late Sunday afternoon, I felt I’d sufficiently digested my huge, Mexican meal to get some exercise. Also felt in real need of exercise.

I’ve visited Farmland many times, usually to eat breaded tenderloin sandwich at The Chocolate Moose or buy bulk candy at the General Store, but always I’d got there by car. I decided a long afternoon ride would be just the thing to halt the transformation from Man to Slug I’d begun at lunchtime. Got caught in a thunderstorm cloudburst and waited it out under the eaves of a church building, then rode the rest of the way there.

View-from-ShelterUnder-Sheltering-Eaves

Have I written lately about how much I enjoy riding chip-and-seal paved country roads? I really like riding them. The American version of cobbled European roads – they are rough and to be endured. They make even poorly paved normal streets seem smooth and finished. Chip-and-seal is what I rode to Farmland, as well as a lot of the other miles I rode during my recent Indiana sojourn.

Farmland Opera House

Eighth Street Opera House, look closely

Farmland was closed for the day by the time I arrived late afternoon/early evening. I rested briefly at a café table outside the Chocolate Moose, leaned my bike up for a picture against the garage door at the General Store (the sign said Open, but the store was Closed), and snapped a couple of other pictures before heading back the way I came. Got a picture Eighth Street (or is it ‘Avenue’) Opera House – look at the picture – it’s a puzzle and if you figure it out, it’ll remind you of a funny song. The woman at the deli counter at what I think was called Jason’s Meat Market – the only business in town open Sunday evening – filled up my water bottle for me.

Farmland-Candy-StoreFarmland-Blue-HouseFarmland-Flag

Farmland-Buildings

Farmland-Angle-RoadFarm-Cemetery

Dog-Bit

On the ride back to the house from Farmland, I got bitten by a dog. I’d been chased by three other dogs on the way out, but none got close to catching me, and at least one of the dogs appeared simply to enjoy the contest of speed, bearing on its doggy dial a doggy smile as it ran beside me. The dog that got me was a gray Australian sheep dog with black spots accompanied by a yellow dog of the same breed. I didn’t crash and kept riding, but the damnable cur bit one of my calves, breaking the skin.

I cannot recall the last time I’ve wanted to kill something as badly as I wanted to kill that dog. As I rode, I thought about getting Dr. Walther to accompany me back to the rural trailer from beside which the dogs ran out at me, for a little impromptu vivisection. By the time I got back to the house, though, I had decided to talk it over with my father-in-law to see what he advised. In a recent vocational incarnation, I spent about a year and a half working with a population about half of whom (is ‘whom’ correct here?) qualified for my caseload because they’d failed to control their impulses on a day they should have controlled their impulses.

My father-in-law advised me to contact local law enforcement dispatch to see what they suggested. I did so. The woman who took my call said she would have a sheriff’s department investigator come out and would also send an EMS unit out to have a look at the bite. By the time it was all over, about six shockingly overweight EMS workers (as well as one male of normal weight) came out. They had actually called for an ambulance before coming over to the house which I requested they cancel. Heck, if I could ride the miles back to the house, I could drive myself to Ball Hospital in Muncie if in need of medical treatment. The sheriff’s department investigator was a very normal seeming guy who took my information and said he’d file a report with the state; he said he couldn’t just ride out to the house with me and kill the dog. Although disappointed, I understood that things must be done decently and in order.

Turns out, oddly enough, that the dog’s owner is the daughter of my mother-in-law’s hairdresser. The wound on my calf never festered, although it did bruise pretty badly. I kept it clean and used topical antibiotic. As of this writing, the spot’s still sore if I pinch it, but it seems free of infection. The dog’s owners have quarantined it at the vets, and, since I have not yet suffered material loss, no law suit is currently pending.

Indiana Tour de Corn 2013

Panoramic-View

For the second year running, I took a bicycle with me on our annual trip to visit my wife’s family in rural Indiana.  I also piled paddling gear in the car, too, but the weather forecast indicated cooler temperatures and a good deal of rain which contraindicated much likelihood my wife would herself or would allow our boy to accompany me on a river float in the 17’ aluminum canoe named Caution-Lady.  Although I’m not certain my paddling days are over, I have spent a great many more pedaling since buying my first adult bike a couple of years ago.

This year, as I mentioned in the previous post, I have a much better grasp of the rural geography of the environs around my wife’s family home.  Additionally, this year, I have an Apple Iphone – one of the cheap 8 gig devices my wireless provider was giving away last winter to spur data-plan sales, but still way cooler than the flip-phone I’d had for seven or so years.  Even though Apple Maps don’t always work, they’d suffice to keep me from getting totally lost like I did last year.  In addition to the Iphone’s Apple Maps, I’ve got a paid app, Cyclemeter, that usefully tracks distance, speed, elevation, ascent, descent, calories burned, and has a pretty good map feature, all using the phone’s GPS.  Sure, it’s a spy in my seatbag, but if it makes me mad, I can destroy it by emptying a clip into it.  Practically speaking, however, I am not at present too freaked out about it.

Indiana by Counties

The Razesa had a flat the morning we left Stepford, so I took the Miyata, a bike I generally only ride in fair weather; in fact, I’ve pretty well named the bike Fairweather.  As noted elsewhere, the Miyata is a 610 touring model – a mid-range bike manufactured in 1981.  It has a complete Suntour grupo with stem-shift “Power Shifters” that have a ratcheting feel to them as they are used to index-shift.  All though Rivendell claims their downtube shift levers (which replaced the Simplex shifters on my Razesa) are better than the Suntour Power Shifters, that is mere sales puffing as the Rivendell product is inferior in terms of feel and accuracy. 

Although mostly original, the Miyata’s factory saddle was long since lost by the time I purchased the bike from Mike Carroll of Old Bikes Belong.  The day I bought the bike, Mike installed a Selle Italia saddle racing saddle I’d brought along, but it proved unsatisfactory and I quickly replaced it with a hideous red and black mountain-bike saddle.  Although strangely ugly, the newer saddle quickly became less visually disturbing because I noticed the red trim matched the Dia Compe center-pull brake’s red trim.

Mongoose-SaddleB4-Stepford-Storm

Regarding the name, Fairweather, it was one of a fictional monk’s five friends, as I recall from a novel I read for a Church History class in seminary back in the 1990’s.  Fairweather and Tune were a pair of snakes that, if I recall this correctly, shared the monk’s hermitage until, in an act of penitence, the man banished so he could bear his guilt alone.  None of that has anything to do with the fact that I generally try to ride the Miyata in fair weather – I’m trying to keep it in as near-new condition as possible yet still ride it regularly.   A few weeks ago on a short ride in the area around my house, I did get caught riding the Miyata in a thunderstorm, so got over worry about getting the bike wet and dirty.

My father-in-law thinks Tennessee’s rural scenery has “the Wow Factor” in spades, but I am of the opinion that Indiana’s farmland is no less beautiful.  I think Jim’s so used to his surroundings that he does not “feel” the Wow to a conscious degree any longer.  I’ve taken rides for six of the nine days spent at the farm but have taken fewer pictures while riding than I did last year.  This is in part due to my reliance upon the Iphone as my primary camera (although I took the Pentax with me on Monday 1 July with indifferent to bad results). 

Greenway-500-Fuji-Cambridge

Most of my Indiana rides this year have been greater than 30 miles; all but two greater than 20.  I stopped in a couple of times at Greenway 500 Bike Shop – Mike identified the snick-snick sound my bike was making as a worn-out pedal I might make right by the application of grease to its inner workings.  He has a Fuji Cambridge with eight-speed internally geared rear hub and dynamo front hub that I coveted.  Mike wouldn’t swap it for the Miyata saying he already had enough old bikes, but I would have swapped.  I did take the Fuji for a spin and liked it very well.  For $1100, it could have been mine, but the wrath of my wife would also have been mine.

On my first long ride, I stopped in at a gas-station mini market and bought a sausage/cheese/fried-egg biscuit and two quarts of Powerade (not as good as Gatorade, but available at “Two for $2”); on two other occasions, I stopped by the lakeside tent set up by Rob Cline and family – Cave-Baby Smokers, and again purchased and ate sausage/egg and egg/cheese biscuits to fortify my constitution during my travels.  The first day I met Rob and his son, and the following day, Rob and his wife, Holly.  My photos of the Cline family and their smokehouse tent can be seen HERE.  What follows are some of the photos I took while riding rural Indiana – click on a picture for a larger image.

First-Lunch-StopSpokesRoad-I-Took

Road-Not-TakenSea-of-CornPinch

Muncie-Sailing-ClubNew-Burlington-UMCIndiana-Chip-&-SealIndiana-Farmland

Sky-High-by-4th-of-July

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

Monument-Inscription-1Monument-Inscription-2Monument-Inscription-3Monument-Inscription-4

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

Tour de Corn – Riding Indiana, Part One

Thunderstorm
Thunderstorm

We arrived and unpacked about midday Saturday last, but I was tired and conked out for about three hours, awoke long enough to feed, and conked-out again until Sunday morning.  Sunday morning, we went to a First Church worship service that was, essentially, a wrap-up program for the previous week’s Children’s Church.  It featured singing, slide-shows, demonstrations, talks, and so on.  Surprisingly, I found it uplifting.  We ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant with a family from the congregation and then returned to the farm.

By late afternoon, Sunday, I was ready to take a bike ride.  We carried the Razesa on a two-bicycle Yakima trailer-hitch rack.  In addition to the usual paddling gear (because I’ve got a canoe in the barn loft), I’d packed my cycling gear (helmet, gloves, sunglasses, rack-bag, shoes) and brought it along for the trip.  My normal cycling costume consists of whatever I happen to be wearing, plus helmet, gloves, sunglasses (to keep the bugs out of my eyes) and, sometimes, cycling shoes.  Ready to ride, I checked the weather radar on the National Weather Service website.  Thunderstorm warnings and matching red-and-yellow spots on the screen to the north and east of us, but I thought moving slowly enough that I could ride out and back before the storm got this far.

I rode down to the main highway running between here and four-way stop four miles away where there is a trailhead for the Cardinal Greenway bike path. While I’d prefer to see the nation have useful passenger rail, and sufficient industry to require regular freight trains to carry it, I think using an abandoned rail line for a long bike path is a cool idea. So, I rode the almost five miles between here and the four-way stop as the sky overhead grew increasingly cloudy and the wind became stronger.  The photo above I shot from astride the Razesa from the greenway.

On the greenway, I rode no more than a mile or so toward the storm and began hearing the booms of thunder that heralded the approaching storm, then observed lightning striking to the north 10 to 15 miles distant.    Thought maybe it’d be a good idea to turn around and ride back to the house, and did so. Riding maybe 12 miles per hour, the storm overtook me. Wind, the first drops of a much-needed rain struck me as I rode. More thunder. Lighting strikes about four miles off in the direction I needed to ride.  Thinking about Martin Luther, repentance, and the manner in which electrocution might effect various organs rendering them possibly unfit for donation, I looked for places along the highway to wait out the storm, but kept riding.  I only had to make about five miles to the house.  I rode on.

By the time I turned on to the road with less than a mile to pedal, the storm acting up right overhead.  Thunder, wind, rain, lightning strikes in a field by some woods about a mile and a half distant.  I thought about turning in to the barn lot and waiting it out in the barn, but with less than half a mile to go, I kept pedaling.   I cut a corner across the front lawn and rode straight to the open garage where I met my wife, keys in hand, who said she’d was just about to come looking for me.

Monday Greenway Ride

Monday morning, for the first time ever, I ventured out of doors wearing the cycling garb I purchased for the purpose of wearing while cycling, but which I’d never before had the nerve to wear.  But, in the wilds of corn-belt where I am completely unknown and where temperatures have been in the triple digits, I squeezed my middle-aged physique into the bib shorts and cycling jersey, put on my cycling shoes, and set off again for the greenway.  The highway has a shoulder about a foot or two wide; motorists seemed to give me an additional three or so feet when passing, so no problem.

Michael-O'Neil

This time, I rode much further – as far as the Medford or Prairie Creek trailhead adjacent to which is Michael O’Neil’s Greenway 500 bike shop where I bought a couple of water bottles.  I’d forgotten mine at home in Tennessee.  Michael’s an interesting guy – friendly and positive in an impersonal and distracted-seeming way.  He said he grew up in a rural Massachusetts community with population less than 4000; pedaled across the country five times; worked at a Memphis bike shop; has been working on bikes for 22 years.  I had the impression he is quick-witted, high-IQ-smart and is aware of his areas of deficient knowledge and may tend not to make assumptions about people.  Excellent qualities for a small business owner to have.  I liked him and his bike shop, returning there several times during my stay at the farm.

Blountsville-SignCaine's

Blue-FlowersCampsis-Radicans

I rode past Blountsville and on into Losantville where I posed my bike next to a colorful but out-of-business bar.  Along the greenway I saw a number of wild-flowers – unidentified blue flowers and campsis radicans – the wildflower that gave its name to the Pouch E68 I gave to my friend, Eric, in January of this year.  I returned to Blountsville several times during the week, a very small town that put me in mind of Starnesville, even though I don’t think the small town was ever home to any industrial concern, to speak of.  Nevertheless, it apparently once had a grain elevator that was served by rail – the line abandoned to make the greenway

Tuesday – Lost in the Corn Maze

Greenway-MapBridge-BikeBridge-View

Corn-RowsAbandoned

I planned a longer ride for Tuesday – I wanted to ride around a small lake near Muncie – a 13.5 mile ride, in addition to the distance of the ride out there and back.  My goal was to ride the main highway to the greenway, then to the Medford trailhead, then over to Prairie Creek Reservoir (that body of water visible to the right of the greenway’s diagonal on the map, above), around the lake, and then back to a point where I reckoned I could ride country lanes across to the farm.  I missed 500 S, the road from which the lake is best accessible from Hwy. 35, and rode between three and four miles out of my way until I realized my mistake and turned back around.  That was my first and least serious missed turn of the day.  If you click on the greenway trail map above at left, you should be able to discern 500 S and the route I pedaled around the lake.

Counting my circuit around the lake, I thought I’d make about 33 to 35 miles round-trip back to the farm, making Tuesday’s ride my longest to date.  I stopped whenever I wanted to take a picture.

Three-Window-BarnMethodist-Church-Bldg

Prairie-Creek-ReservoirWater-Tree-BikeRed-Barns

I almost laughed when I saw the manner in which the pavement from one to about four o’clock around the reservoir had been patched.  “It’s a miracle!” I thought, noting the crazy lines of black tar on the roads’ cracked surfaces resembled Arabic script.  Around by the public access beach and marina, I was pretty hungry, but didn’t want to eat any of the six generic fig-newton cookies I’d brought along to supplement my Gatorade.

As I rode by the Dry Dock Marina, I saw a guy cooking something under a tent on the grass between the road and the building.  He hollered at me, “We’ve got water!”  I hollered back, “What’ve you all got to eat?” and rode up to the tent to find out.  Probably the smartest thing I did Tuesday morning, considering what happened later, was to buy a fried egg-and-cheese biscuit from the vendor, Rob Cline, of Cave Baby Smokers.  I hung out and talked with Rob a bit about how he got started and listened to his ambitious plans for future expansion.  I wish him happy and debt-free providence in his improvisational vocational endeavors.  Almost ready to get back on the road, a couple on a blue tandem bicycle pedaled by and waved.

Finishing my ride around the lake back at 500 S, I stopped at the bike shop and refilled one of my water bottles – a tie for smartest thing I did that day.  Also in the shop was the couple who’d ridden by on the tandem – Michael was making some adjustment to the bike and the couple and he were talking interestingly about tandem bike rallies or events they’d ridden.

Wrong-Turn

I thought I’d have an easy ride back to the farm once on the greenway, and planned to ride cross-country, as opposed to the main highway intersecting 35, to get there.  I took the road pictured in the photograph above because, after having got turned around a little bit and having failed to really STUDY the map the previous evening, the road FELT like it was running in the right direction.  I conservatively estimate it took me 12 to 16 miles out of my way, and I know I pedaled through parts of three counties before I entered the right county and began to find my way.  Hungry again, I ate three of the fig newton cookies in the rack bag and drank about 12 ounces of water from the bottle I’d refilled.  At point where I took the photograph below, I don’t know how many miles later but reckoning I had only about four or five miles left until I arrived at the farm, I ate the rest of the cookies and drank most of the remaining Gatorade.

Almost-Back