RA67: North Central Indiana

Monon IN (Acorn Oaks Campground) to Denver IN – 64.2 miles

Bull frogs talked to us all night last night.  Some just said, “Wuh!”  and others said, “Wuh – Uoh!” in strange patterns.  Almost as if a conversation was going on – it probably was.  I woke up around 2AM and just stayed awake for a long time waiting for the sun.  In short, I didn’t sleep very much.

Morning departure from Acorn Oaks Campground

We made an orderly departure with some of us heading south to the town of Monon IN.  Jack and I found Bill just leaving from the Reme Family Restaurant, which turned out to be a very nice place with great service and decent food.  (pancakes = 4.  Good texture but too small, lacking flavor)

As we found our county road 900S out of town, I noticed that a panniered cyclist had turned onto it ½ mile in front of us, and so motored my way up to him.  His name was Don, and had left from the Pacific coast at the end of June.  He’d made it here much faster than we did because he typically covers more miles per day, and because he didn’t put Ragbrai into his schedule.  He’d been following Bill’s Twitter blog about our trip and knew we were out here, but just hadn’t met us yet.  We rode about 8 more miles into the the town of Buffalo IN conversing up a storm.  As a solo rider, Don was glad to have someone to talk to for a while.

Rolling along with Don
Wildflower quiz #1

We left him at a restaurant, since he hadn’t had breakfast, but we soon returned and sat with him since the town’s food market was closed.  Jack and I ordered beverages and learned that Don is an oncological nurse between jobs, and has lots of bicycle touring experience.  He thought our group was pretty neat the way it disperses and reconvenes all the time.

The three of us rode another 10 miles to Royal Center, including a beautiful 2.5-mile stretch down a newly completed bicycle path (a rails-to-trails conversion).   Jack and I had cold drinks and bought contingency dinner provisions, just in case our end town was lacking.  For me: cheddar chex mix, brownie bar, cheese danish.  All the important food groups.

Rails-to-trails path to Royal Center IN

Don took IN16 out of Royal Center while Jack and I stuck to the county roads.  Although the mileage is longer, the riding is carefree and with almost no traffic.  By contrast, most of the Indiana state roads have no shoulder and a fair share of truck traffic.  Like yesteday, we saw miles and miles of corn and soybeans.  Some feed corn, some sweet corn, some popcorn, and lots of soybeans.  Who uses all those soybeans?  In what products?  You can only eat so many edamame.

Miles of soybeans
Wildflower quiz #2

Through the neighborhood of Fletcher IN.  Its sole operating business is a Coke machine at a bend in the road, so we stopped and soaked in the peacefulness there, looking at tranquil Fletcher Lake.

Wildflower quiz #3
Strange folk art in Fletcher IN
A closer look

We went through another little gathering of houses with no businesses.  Out here in the counties I see constant reminders of U S Monolithics, evidenced by Wildblue dishes with USM transceivers.  And maybe I am reminded that USM did something very useful in this world by bringing information to people in remote places.

U S Monolithics hardware in the field
Wildflower quiz #4

Great riding conditions today.  Occasional periods of headwinds but only minor ones.   Temperatures not exceeding the high 80s with only moderately high humidity.  In other words, comparitively balmy.

Through tiny Deedsville IN and then southeast onto a beautiful new bicycle trail, also a rails-to-trails conversion.  The workmanship is really excellent – smooth surfacing, great bridges, thorough signage.  I wish these trails existed everywhere.   The trail took us directly to our destination town for the night: Denver IN.

Trail between Deedsville IN and Denver IN

We spied all our amigos’ bikes at the only restaurant in town, the Hoosier Hot Spot.  They’d already eaten, so I ordered a large vanilla milkshake.  EXCELLENT!  On the icy side with just the right amount of milk, good vanilla punch.  Then a small stromboli sandwich for dinner.   The team cracked jokes for an hour sitting around the table.

Congregation at the Hoosier Hot Spot in Denver IN. My bike has a front tire flat in this picture.
Inside the Hoosier Hot Spot, Denver IN

Out to the park, but not before I discovered a flat in my front wheel.  Only my second flat!  Caused by a very sharp tack directly imbedded, and such a clean wound I’ll save the tube for repair.  We set up tents and talked at length with a Denver (IN) guy who’d had lots of hiking experience out west, in Arizona and elsewhere.  He seemed happy to talk for a while with others on an “adventure.”

City park in Denver IN

64 miles today.  It appears on the map that we’re almost exactly halfway across Indiana, west-to-east that is.  Tomorrow we plan to try to make it all the way to Monroeville IN, which is nearly across the state, so I anticipate a long day.  I hope conditions will favor us (like, maybe, just maybe, a little tailwind?)