Early on the morning of the 4th day, I reached Denver IN and started using the ACA maps. It is so nice to have a picture of the route in front of me. To the left of the map segments, there are written instructions on when to turn left or right. I have to be very careful not to get too interested in reading the information while riding. It is worse than texting and driving a car! I do not want to have another spill.
It gets a little monotonous riding on pancake-flat roads that go straight for 10-15 miles. I was daydreaming when all of a sudden I came to Toto Road.
Did I fall asleep at the wheel and ride all the way to Kansas? I had better ask someone quickly. Luckily there was a munchkin from the Lollipop Guild nearby, so I asked him if I was in Kansas. No, he replied, but he said he could whip up a tornado in no time that would fly me there post haste. I cordially declined, and continued riding down an endless Indiana farm road.
Are these animals goats?
No. They are naked sheep! They were just sheared within the last few days. I bet they are enjoying their new-found freedom. With temperatures in the 90’s and humidity levels at 70-80%, running around with no clothes on is the only way to go (if you are a sheep, that is).
I finished the 5th day’s ride at La Porte IN. It is a hotel night – Yeehawww! I am staying at the Blue Heron, which is located on the shore of Pine Lake. Here is the view from the pool. This hotel thing could get addictive!
Rumor is tomorrow I will see the waters of Lake Michigan for the first time. Come back to see if it’s true.
The North Lakes Route from the Adventure Cycling Association starts in Denver IN. To get there, I used Google Maps and selected a bicycle as the mode of transportation to map out the 200 miles from Montgomery to Denver. The route was very good, except for a six mile stretch on Day 3 in Indiana, but I will get to that a little later.
On Day 1 I left home at 8am, and navigated through the smaller towns north of Cincinnati. I had only gone maybe 5 miles, and had a run-in with a very high curb. I ended up falling over (with my shoes still clipped to the bike), and tore a small hole in one of my panniers. I was so embarrassed! But as the old adage goes: if you fall off your horse (in this case my bike), get back on and keep riding. And that’s what I did! Made it to Richmond IN, and camped at the KOA there.
For Days 2-3, I was able to ride about half of the total miles on Rail-to-Trail bike paths, including the Cardinal Greenway, Sweetser Switch Trail, and the Nickel Plate Trail. While on the Cardinal Greenway, a thunderstorm was threatening, so I turned off the trail and found some shelter in Economy IN. I would never know these small towns exist if it wasn’t for biking the backroads of America.
As I mentioned earlier, Google Maps failed me only once. I was out in the corn and soybean fields of Indiana when the road changed from blacktop to dirt/gravel (bike routes should not include gravel roads IMHO). At the same time, a huge storm hit me. I saw a man in his garage so I rode up his driveway and asked if I could hang out in his garage while the storm passed. He was very gracious. I stayed dry and he gave me a cup of coffee. But the dirt road was another story. It was muddy and slippery after the storm. I had to ride on about 3 miles of the stuff. By the time I got back to pavement, my bike and bags were a mess. I decided to stay at a hotel that night and used their water hose to wash everything off. Here is what my hotel room looked like as I laid everything out to dry from the previous night’s rain showers.
I officially retired on July 1st, 2016. What better way to celebrate than to go on the longest self-supported bicycle trip that I have experienced – about 30 days. I will leave from my home in Montgomery OH on the morning of Thursday, August 25th, and bike a 1,500 mile loop around Lake Michigan. I should be back home by September 25th. This trip will be a good warmup for my attempt to bike across America next spring. I could not do these trips if it were not for the support and “blessing” of my wife, Michiko. Thanks, my love!
Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) has a fantastic library of maps, describing over 40,000 miles of bicycle routes in North America. I ordered the North Lakes map set of three maps. Each map contains about 500 miles of turn-by-turn directions and camping/eating/lodging suggestions.
My route takes me north from home to Denver IN, where the ACA mapped route begins. I will then head north towards Lake Michigan. I will go counter-clockwise around Lake Michigan, first heading north along the Lake Michigan shoreline to Ludington and Mackinaw City, then west to Escanaba and Conover, then south to Manitowoc, ferry east across Lake Michigan to Ludington, and then retrace my route south back home.
To get in shape for the trip, I joined the Cincinnati Cycle Club (3C). It is the oldest cycling club in America, established in 1880. The club has many different rides throughout the week. I am biking 100-120 miles per week, which will be enough to get my legs in shape for the 50-60 miles per day I hope to complete throughout the journey. I definitely need the training because it is a challenge to move 100 pounds of bike and gear up and down the hills.
Safety is always a concern with me. I ride with a rear blinking red light, and a front blinking white light. I decided to buy some very bright cycling jerseys to help car and truck drivers see me better. The jerseys are called SEE ME WEAR. Can you see me? No,really. Can you SEE ME?!?!
My next blog should be posted from somewhere north of Montgomery OH. Stay tuned!