Lower Midwestern Trip – Day 5

I retract the statement I made yesterday about it being my favorite day of the trip; I think today was even better, despite the fact that we didn’t get to bed until 1 AM (yawn) after shipping our bikes home on Amtrak.

Map of Monon Trail

Map of Monon Trail

We ate breakfast at the Comfort Inn, packed our rental car, and drove about three miles to Carmel Cyclery where we had reserved bikes for today’s ride on the Monon Trail. Pat, the store owner, was extremely helpful and gave us valuable advice about connecting to the Yellow Cultural Heritage Trail to downtown Indianapolis. The store had a 50 foot map of the Monon Trail painted on the wall, and Pat walked us through each section pointing out the highlights.

Corn Wagon @ Market

Corn Wagon

Our ride started about 9:45 AM. We rode about one mile north to the Carmel Farmer’s Market, checked our bikes at the free storage area (with claim tickets), and browsed through the booths selling local produce, baked goods, etc. Pat had suggested that we ask for Ron Carter, a Carmel Councilman who was instrumental in getting funding for the Indianapolis greenways, including the Monon Trail. We located Ron, introduced ourselves and shared some of our experiences on the Hall-of-Fame trails across the country. Joyce also asked his advice for publishing an article about our trips.

Bike Sculpture

Bike Sculpture

Leaving the farmer’s market, we continued riding north through the upscale communities of Carmel and Westfiel to the end of the paved trail. These two communities have built shops, condos, and local businesses along the trail. There were also several art pieces on this route, including a life-sized sculpture of a father teaching his daughter to ride a bike (my personal favorite).

Northern Terminus

Northern Terminus

After reaching the northern end of the Monon, we headed south toward downtown Indianapolis. In between neighborhoods, the trail passed through beautiful green wooded areas. The trail developers did an excellent job building tunnels and bridges bypassing busy intersections.

Tool Station

Tool Station

The trail was extremely busy; bikers, joggers, walkers, and roller bladers rode both ways in a steady stream. After complaining about the lack of services on the Little Miami Trail, we were surprised by the abundance of restrooms, signage, and even bike maintenance stations (tools & air) on the Monon.

Indiana Capitol

Indiana Capitol

Close to downtown, we passed by the Indiana State Fair (too bad we didn’t have time to take a ride on the Ferris Wheel 🙂 ). As we approached the southern end of the Monon, we could see the cityscape in the distance. We turned right onto the Cultural Heritage Trail and followed it for about 8 miles in a loop of downtown. In less than an hour, we rode by the Capitol, the Indiana War Memorial, Victory Field, Indiana State Museum, and Chase Tower. We witnessed a bike race through the downtown area, and I even caught a glimpse of the Indianapolis Speedway!

White River

White River

However, the most scenic part of the Cultural Heritage Loop was the White River State Park. We rode our bikes down along the blue water, watched families in paddle boats, and ate a snack. Although the Cultural Heritage Trail was well marked and constructed with distinctive pavers, it still took both of us paying close attention to not miss the frequent turns leading us in a circle back to the Monon Trail.

La Piedad

La Piedad

On our return trip to the bike shop, we decided to stop at the Indiana Blueberry store where we purchased a slice of pie to eat after completing the trail. We also stopped for lunch at La Piedad, an authentic Mexican restaurant recommended by locals buying produce at the blueberry store.

After lunch, we pedaled the remaining six miles (bringing today’s total to 41 miles) back to the Carmel Cyclery, returned our bikes, and drove to the airport. It’s sad that our trip is ending, but I look forward to planning our remaining two trips to the Southwest and Upper Midwest.

 

Carmel on Monon Trail

 

Bridge on Monon

 

Entering Indianapolis

 

White River State Park

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