As soon as the 2018 inductee to the Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame was announced, Joyce and I started planning a trip to Indiana to ride the Cardinal Greenway. We decided to squeeze it into our busy fall schedules instead of waiting until next spring. So, on Monday, November 29th, we flew from Atlanta to Indianapolis to embark on a two-day bike ride from Richmond to Marion.
When we arrived in Indianapolis, we rented a car and drove about an hour and a half east to the Cycling & Fitness Warehouse in Richmond. Prior to our trip, we had researched bike rentals in the area and discovered that most of them are closed on Mondays. Fortunately, Danny, the manager at the Cycling & Fitness Warehouse agreed to come into the store on his day off to rent us bikes. His generosity was definitely unexpected, but the next bit of news was even more surprising. The store had received a wellness grant from a local hospital, which meant that we would be able to use the bikes for two days with NO CHARGE! Apparently, the grant reimburses the bike store when customers “rent” the bikes so it’s a Win-Win situation for the customers and the retailer.
We arrived at the bike store in Richmond about 12:45 PM, and Danny greeted us in the parking lot. He helped us select bikes for our ride and agreed to loan us his personal rack so that we could carry a pannier containing our clothes & personal belongings for the two-day ride. After trying several seat posts, Danny thought he had finally found one that would support the rack on the hybrid bikes. We pushed our bikes into the parking lot and picked up our pre-ordered sandwiches at the Warehouse Café next door. After mounting the pannier to the rack, we realized that the load was too heavy, causing the rack to drag on the back tire. Although we each planned to carry a small backpack, we also needed the rack to hold some of our gear. Realizing that we only had five hours to ride before dark, we were forced to spend several precious minutes selecting items that we could leave behind and trying to fasten bungee cords from the rear of the rack to the front of the seat post in an attempt to lift the rack above the tire. Confidant that we had resolved the problem, we embarked on the trail at 2PM (45 minutes later than originally planned). Unfortunately, the bungee cords did not sustain the weight of the pannier, and the load began to create extra drag on the rear tire. Realizing that I could not sustain the extra strength needed to pedal against the drag, I stopped and tried to readjust the rack. Desperate to find a solution, I turned the rack about 30 degrees away from the back tire. Although the rack looked strange, protruding from the side of my bike, it worked 🙂 .
It was now 2:15 PM, and we had about 40 miles to ride before dark! Normally, on a paved trail, this would not have been a problem. However, we quickly discovered that the slight uphill grade from Richmond to Losantville, about half the distance to Muncie where we planned to spend the night, was steeper than expected. Instead of averaging 10 mph, we were averaging just under 8 mph. Although Joyce was confident that we could make it before dark, I was more skeptical and pedaled harder. In my mind, I decided that if it got dark before we reached our destination, we could always call Uber 🙂 . Pushing the time constraint out of my mind, I decided to enjoy the ride.
We stopped to eat our picnic lunch at the trailhead in Economy. Although there were park benches, the porta-potty had been removed due to vandalism. After a quick lunch, we resumed our slow ascent on the trail. The fall leaves, particularly the sugar maples, were breathtaking. Most of the trail was lined on both sides with cornfields and farms. Some of the fields had been plowed for winter; others had not. We passed a few cow pastures, but the predominant crop was corn. I love to gaze at old barns and silos; it’s almost like stepping back in time. Focusing on the scenery made the uphill climb more tolerable. Our steady, persistent riding with few breaks enabled us to make up for most of the time we had lost at the beginning of our ride. After reaching Losantville, we noticed that the trail had become mostly level, and beyond Blountsville, the trail continued slightly downhill on our northern journey toward Muncie.
By 6:30 PM, dusk was approaching, and I was doubtful that we would be able to reach our hotel in Muncie, which was about 6-8 miles away. When I noticed darkness approaching, I pedaled faster; however, Joyce, confident in her pace, fell slightly behind. Typically, I use a rearview mirror to keep her in sight, but the poor light made it difficult. I stopped to talk to a local lady walking her dog and to inquire about how far we were from the outskirts of Muncie; meanwhile, Joyce passed by me without my knowledge. Thinking that she was still behind me, I waited for what seemed an inordinate amount of time before deciding to turn around and pedal back toward her. Just as I decided to call her, my phone rang and Joyce explained that she had passed me and was actually ahead of me. Pedaling as fast I could, I caught up to her, but I explained that I was really having a difficult time seeing the trail. My eyesight is not very good at night, but Joyce was not having any difficulty. She put on her neon bands, and I tried to pedal as close to her bike as possible. Finally, I resorted to turning on the light on my iPhone 🙂 . That worked pretty well until the battery died… Joyce turned on the light on her phone, but by then I was really struggling just to see the trail directly in front of me. I stopped and told Joyce that we needed to lock up the bikes someplace and call Uber to take us to the hotel. We had just passed a house where a man was working in his tool shed outside so I suggested that we ask him if we could secure our bikes on his property overnight. He agreed and got a flashlight to help us see as we pushed the bikes up to his porch. We chained the bikes to an outer post on his porch, and explained that we would return in the morning. Then, I called Uber. Fortunately, we were at an intersection which was only 2-3 miles from the hotel. It took about ten minutes for an Uber driver to arrive, and we enjoyed conversing with him on the short ride to the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Muncie.
After checking into the hotel, we walked to the Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company (adjacent to the hotel) where we had planned to eat dinner. By then, it was 8 PM, and we were starving! Joyce had soup, and we both ate pizza AND bread sticks. We decided to take the leftovers back to the refrigerator in our room to heat up for breakfast. I was exhausted but really wanted to take a hot shower before I went to bed. By the time I finished my shower, Joyce was already asleep! I watched a few episodes of my favorite shows on Acorn TV and drifted off to sleep.