The place I spent most of my childhood is the state of Indiana, specifically Carmel, a suburb of Indianapolis. My parents retired to a small town near Bloomington, home of Indiana University. We have a family farm from 1871 located in northwest Indiana, about 20 miles from the Purdue University campus. So to arrive in the “Crossroads of America” by bicycle had a certain nostalgia.
Three friends — John Garman, Jim Plant and Steve Reynolds — drove out to Crawfordsville Indiana to ride with me on Day 37 from Crawfordsville to Indianapolis. Of course they picked our easiest ride of the 37 days – 62 miles, flat, low temperature, with a tailwind — but they entertained themselves by sprinting at every town sign. I had accumulated 37 days of tiredness and watched them with a mix of humor and awe — these guys are pretty fit. I think their assumption was that I would be “very fit by now” — but the truth is most of the group are a funny mix of fitter and a bit broken down. No one sprints anymore — we just put our head down and get each day’s job done.
Indianapolis has done a great deal to make the city more exciting, fun and livable than most cities we have been through — they have dozens of miles of bike trails on old canal paths, former railroad lines, sides of roads, etc. for example. They’ve attracted a couple of big sports teams (the Colts and the Pacers). There are key areas that have been spruced up and gentrified, with new apartments and eating areas. And yet. There are so many parts of the city that still feel abandoned, failing, unsafe, dirty. The roads in much of the city are perilous to bikers due to potholes and patches and a lack of sweeping. This sense of an America in decline, decaying, giving up, is pervasive in half of the city. And half is growing, bustling, innovating and thriving. Two Americas.
I had a fantastic mechanic take a hard look at my bike for the final two weeks. He tightened some cables, made some adjustments, re-lubed the chain and key parts and said I was good to go. So barring the unexpected the Firefly will soon touch the Atlantic.
It feels we are over the hump after Indianapolis. 12 days of biking to go; 13 total. Our longest days and biggest climbing days are all behind us. Now we just have to see it through. The injured bicyclist came right back the next day, but you can still see this 2-3″ bump on the side of his hip where he landed. The broken bicycle was repaired. So all 11 of us are going strong, with two cyclists who stopped in Pueblo deciding to rejoin us for the final two weeks Even the headwinds, which have returned, seem to only slightly dampen the mood. We’ll cross into Ohio tomorrow, and then head Northeast towards the Niagara Falls. Next days are both over 100 miles, but my butt can handle it 🙂
Day 36 Ride Summary (Champaign, IL to Crawfordsville, IN). 82 miles, 1770 feet of climbing. Steady headwind of 10-12 mph, but we only faced into it about 2/3rds of the time. The mood was good because both climbers had rejoined us.
Day 37 Ride Summary (Crawfordsville, IN to Indianapolis, IN). 63 miles, 1160 feet of climbing. Easiest day of the trip.
Day 38: Rest Day
Day 29 Ride Summary (Indianapolis, IN to Richmond, IN). 74 miles, 1720 feet of climbing. Steady headwind of 8-10 mph, but temperature and climbing quite moderate. We rode with a bit more pace for the second half — 17 mph versus 15 mph. Watched England lose to Croatia.