Though this bike ride stretched over two days, each day riding about 5 hours and covering about 40 miles, I’ve decided to combine my entry into one because it all seems like one long trip instead of two.
The flight to Indianapolis was on time and uneventful, and the Avis car rental went just fine. Once again, we took off into unknown territory, with me driving and Martha navigating with the GPS on her phone. One and one-half hours later we arrived at the Cycling and Fitness Warehouse in Richmond, Indiana, to pick up the bikes, which were free of charge to us, through a grant that Reid Hospital provided by paying the bike shop for each rental. The shop was actually closed, but the manager Danny came in special just to meet us and give us the bikes. That was very nice of him. Next door to the Cycling was Warehouse Café where we changed into our biking clothes and purchased sandwiches for the trail lunch break. I got a Thai chicken wrap that turned out
to be delicious.
The plan was to ride from 1:15 to 6:30, stopping before it got dark at our Marriott Inn in Muncie. However, we got a late start because Danny, the very helpful manager, had some difficulty adjusting the pannier rack to one of our bikes so that it wouldn’t rub the back tire. It’s supposed to be on his road bike with a higher seat than on the ones we rented, and so it didn’t quite fit right, but we thought we really needed it to hold the pannier pack we had brought for our extra clothes and lunches. Once he got it on in a way that he thought would work, we went out to the parking lot to pack our stuff, either in our back pack or in the pannier. The problem was that with any weight on the pannier rack, it did droop to the point of rubbing the back tire, which definitely wouldn’t work. So we re-packed our stuff, leaving the pannier bag and our rain gear in the trunk of the rental car along with the other stuff we didn’t think we’d need that night. So 30 minutes late, we got started.
For the first mile, though, Martha had to keep stopping to adjusting the pannier because the rubbing on the back tire, even with only our lunches bungeed to it, was really dragging Martha’s speed and making worrisome noises as it rubbed the tire. Since we couldn’t get it totally off without the proper tools, which we didn’t have, Martha figured out that she could just twist it around so that it sat at an angle on the seat bar and thus did not extend straight out over the back tire. That worked, thank goodness, and we were on our way again. By now we were 45 minutes behind schedule.
Normally, we figure we can ride at an average speed of 10 miles per hour on a paved path, as opposed to riding on hard packed gravel or crushed limestone. What we didn’t figure on was the frequency of hill climbing on this trail. They weren’t steep, but they were a steady slightly uphill. The canopy of trees and the trail was nice, but looking ahead to anther long incline was a little depressing. We could average only 7.9 miles an hour, sometimes my odometer even registering 5 miles an hour. Martha was almost always ahead of me, but she stopped to wait until I caught up. Maybe my age is showing. Then, to keep the time efficient, instead of stopping also, I would just ride on past and she would eventually catch up and pass me again.
On one of her stops, however, she was talking to a woman with a dog and didn’t see me pass her. This was in the hour after the sun had set, so dusk was upon us. I didn’t know she didn’t see me until she never did catch up to me. Then I thought maybe she had some bike trouble and wondered if I should go back for her. I waited for about 10 minutes and then decided to call her. Well, she had turned around and gone back for me and was just about ready to call me to see where I was when I called her. That episode cost us about fifteen or twenty minutes, which added to her stress of our not getting there while it was still light. While I stayed hopeful, she stayed practical and started scheming while she rode. By this time, about 7:00, the sun had definitely set, and as pretty as that experience could have been, it was more disconcerting because we had no bike lights and the trail was pretty secluded in the canopy of trees.
By 7:15, darkness came to the trail.
I had better night vision than she had, and Martha said she literally couldn’t see ten feet ahead of her on the trail. She tried to use her phone light, but to no avail. At this point of stopping, we were about two miles south of downtown Muncie where our hotel was and near a house where a man was working in his yard. We debated the situation and then decided to ask him if we could lock our bikes up somewhere in his yard. Martha had already planned on calling an Uber if he said yes. So that’s what we ended up doing, a little less than two miles from our destination.
So the Uber guy got us to our hotel, we had half a pizza for dinner at a nearby restaurant, and went back to the hotel for an early night. I was asleep before 9:30. Martha had decided to take a shower that night, a good move it turned out, because when I went to take my shower in the morning, we found out that the whole hotel had NO hot water! So we heated up our left over pizza, she went downstairs for some juice, and we ate breakfast in the room, ready to call another Uber driver to take us back to our bikes. As we ate, she asked me how I felt about our original plan of turning around in Muncie and riding back to Richmond. When I expressed some negative feelings about all the hills we would have to do going back (they were up and down hills on the way in, meaning we would have more uphill going back), she then said “Good, I’ve already reserved us a truck in Muncie so that we can do the northern part of the trail beyond the trail break by driving our bikes up to the start of the other end that goes on into Marion.” The plan sounded good to me, so off we went with the new Uber driver.
We rode the fifteen miles to the end of the lower part of the trail, back 5 miles to Muncie to the Chick-Fil-A, where the Enterprise people picked us up with a pick-up truck. We got that rented, took our chicken sandwiches and started toward Gas City/Jonesboro, Indiana, where the trail started up again. Got to the trailhead parking, unloaded our bikes and rode the approximately ten miles to the end of the Cardinal Greenway trail outside of Marion and back to the truck, where our ride was complete. It was 4 p.m. Now all we had to do was load up the bikes, drive 90 minutes back to Richmond to turn in the bikes, pick up the rental car in the bike shop parking lot, drive both vehicles back to Muncie to the Enterprise store, turn in the truck and head on in the rental car to our motel on the way to Indianapolis. Smooth plan, but time was again a problem. Poor Danny was waiting in the parking lot for us at 5:59—he closes at 6 and had to pick up his grandson—and even though we had called him to let him know we were running late, it didn’t get us there any faster. We turned in the bikes and each of us drove a vehicle, heading back to Muncie. It was dark when we arrived to turn in the truck, and because we had changed our route from Richmond to Muncie for our return to Indianapolis, we had to cancel the one reservation and find another hotel. This we did when we were together in the truck taking the bikes back to Richmond. I was doing this and had almost hung up when the lady on the phone was confirming our new destination and I heard her say “Pendleton, Oregon.” “Wait, wait wait!” I exclaimed. “We’re in Indiana. Pendleton, Indiana, not Oregon.” “There’s no Holiday Inn in Pendleton, Indiana,” she said. Panic set in, but she was VERY nice and located us a Fairfield Inn in Anderson, Indiana, about ten minutes from Pendleton. Not even her company, but she made us the new reservations.
So, after turning the truck in, we went back to the Chick-Fil-A to buy some nuggets and a milk shake to reward us for our troubles, and started toward Anderson, Indiana, where we checked in at 8:30 and Martha conducted her online math class help session. The next morning we drove to the airport with plenty of time to spare and had a good flight back to Atlanta. I have to add that it had rained there on Sunday, was raining on Wednesday morning as we drove to the airport, and we had NO rain at all on Monday and Tuesday while riding. What a blessing!
Now, I need to say a few words about the trail: It was a good ride. Perfect fall weather too. I will say that I enjoyed the upper part (day two of riding) over the lower part (day one of riding). The fall leaves were beautiful, as most were bright yellows, with some still green and some reds mixed in. This aspect probably was the most prominent part of the aesthetics of the trail. There were several wooden bridges with metal decorative canopies and metal railings. One bridge was alongside an old railroad bridge, which was scenic. Frequently the trail had several yards of wooden rails alongside the trail, which gave it a nice touch. The trail keepers had also installed several wooden benches along the way, and at each trailhead was a bench, picnic table, and port-a-potty. Often, we saw “tool” stops also. Nice. Where there weren’t trees, there were plenty of farms with cornfields and pretty Indiana scenery. Lots of trees, but no flowers at this time. We encountered few people riding the trail, probably because of the time of the year, because in many pictures of the trail there are lots of people, too many people from my point of view. So the lack of trail users was positive for us. Just outside of Marion and then again at the lower end of the upper part of the trail we encountered a friendly couple from Indianapolis who had ridden the lower part and were now riding the upper part. They, too, had ridden several of the Hall of Fame Trails, although I didn’t get the impression that they had set out to do that, as we had. They were just riding pretty trails. We told them about our blog, the one I am now working on, and we saw on Wednesday that they started following us on the blog, so we got their email address. It would be fun to meet them again sometime.
At first I couldn’t see how it became a Hall of Fame trail, especially because the entire trail is not complete, but I can now see that it serves the local people well and it is well maintained. It does deserve the recognition. I’m glad we did it, and I’m especially glad we had some out-of-the-ordinary days because of the unplanned adventures. At times, the timing was stressful, but now that it is over, it was enjoyable and well worth the time and money.