RA66: Indiana Wants Me

Ashkum IL to Monon IN (Acorn Oaks Campground on IN114) – 76.2 miles

OK, so it’s an old line from an old tune.  AZ is my home state, and PA is my birth state, but Indiana is probably my second home state, since I’ve spent many days with my in-laws in Evansville, and many days driving to and from Earlham College (Richmond IN) with my daughter.

We hit the Subway out of Ashkum IL one last time for a snack, but saved the breakfast appetite for the next town of Iroquois IL.  Everywhere we go, people seem to ask the same things… how far have you ridden?…where did you start from?…where are you headed?  So while at Subway, a guy came up to me and said, “I know you get asked this all the time, but…how tall are you?”

Temperatures were great today, in the upper 70s in the morning.  The Adventure Cycling maps, for all their faults, took us on some wonderful “pastoral lanes,” you know, tree-lined routes along the Iroquois River, winding passages through corn fields, etc.  In fact, today we spent almost the entire day on obscure county roads, passing miles of corn and soybeans and hundreds of farm houses, staying completely away from traffic.   The route occasionally took us onto gravel for a few miles, but our Surly bikes can handle most gravel with ease.

Pastoral lanes
The wildflowers are getting more ordinary as we go east but still beautiful

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to Iroquois IL until about 10:20AM and they’d already closed up their breakfast.  We enjoyed lunch, and had fun talking to the manager, who was used to having cyclists stop through.

Old railroad bridge near Iroquois IL
Iroquois Cafe. Eat up Jack.

About 3 miles past Iroquois, Jack and I determined that we’d crossed into Indiana.  We were on Newton County Road 1125S heading east and had just crossed Newton County Road 700W on the state line.  Of course, in these remote areas, no welcome sign was around, but about 20 yards further was a “Road Closed” sign so we decided to pose by it.  Welcome to Indiana!  Road Closed.

Welcome to Indiana!

The closure was due to a bridge out over the Iroquois River, but we managed to find a detour which only cost a couple of miles.  We soon rolled into the town of Brook IN, where we stopped for a snack.  I bought a quart of chocolate milk and boy did that taste good.  We learned that Bill was already in our destination town (Rensselaer IN) and was having trouble fiding a spot to camp, and that one route in to town (IN114) was very poor bicycle passage from the west.  We agreed to meet further east at a campground instead of staying in Rensselaer.

In Brook IN
Beautiful old house in Brook IN

Jack and I continued on the Adventure Cycling back roads, and were rewarded with some great carefree riding on quiet lanes, interrupted only by the occasional race with a farm dog (almost always friendly).  We decided to visit Rensselaer to buy some dinner provisions for camp and/or eat dinner in town.  Unfortunately, Rensselaer is a bicycle unfriendly town, with decaying road shoulders and lots of truck traffic.  We milled around town for quite a while before finding a Subway, where we ordered 2 footlongs to go and each had about 4 large drinks before we left.

Remote county roads
More wildflowers - plus insect

With some effort, we returned south to the Adventure Cycling route again for another 16 miles east, paralleling IN114 – more pastoral lanes in great riding weather.  This involved still more riding on gravel roads, these ones not so nice (larger gravel in a thicker layer).  We reached camp around 6PM and Jack and I were very surprised to be the first ones in camp.  Unprecedented!

1st in camp - unprecedented

Turns out speedsters Bill and Frank had hung out in Rensselaer at the McDonalds for hours.  They both eventually showed up, and Roger followed within the hour.  The camp here is very nice, set up for RVs but we’re set up in a large open section free from RVs.   Only $15 for all of us – such a deal.  Once again, it is sort of neat the way everyone just convenes in the planned spot with just a few phone calls.  Everyone took varying routes today, through Pontiac and Beaverville and other places, with differing adventures.

Great day of riding.  Our planned “short” day turned into 76 miles for me, due to the messing around in Rensselaer and the extra 16 miles to camp.  Still, we won’t have to retrace those 16 miles tomorrow.  The next two days are scheduled to be 51 miles and 81 miles, so we might try to even that out if we can.