Sunday, June 01, 2008

Bike Trip Commentary

Yes, I type pretty much stream of consciousness, so I apologize ahead of time if it's difficult to read...

Day 1: Portage MI to Eby's Campground Route 47.2 miles

The morning started fairly early and the weather looked perfect (and was). I planned on staying at a campground the first night just to make sure my camping setup would work well. The night before I had finished packing all my gear (37.5 lb total minus bike weight and water bottle weight). It was getting late so I only briefly looked up directions to the camp just beyond the Michigan/Indiana border. Anyways, morning came quickly and I didn't get a entire full night of sleep as planned. Biking down through Schoolcraft was relaxing. Country roads with little to no traffic was a delight. I stopped really only to eat a couple sandwiches packed the night before. Originally I thought I would need to cross 131 in order to easily cross the rivers. Thus passing through Three Rivers I crossed 131 (in reality making the bike ride longer). Also in Three Rivers I saw some people on strike, ya kinda lame, whatever... The roads west of 131 where pretty hilly. There was on hill that I walked my bike down because the road ended with a stop sign at the bottom (not even to combine the fact that there were these large salt trucks hauling stuff going by). Yada yada yada, pedal pedal pedal, I passed a land fill and it smelled pretty bad as expected. I ran back into 131 (since I didn't bring a map of Michigan along), so I decided to cross 131 which involved biking part of it. No part of 131 is bikable I would say, because the 1 or 2 minutes I was on 131 were pretty horrible. I found the road Constantine which was nice, no bike lane but barely any traffic and it seemed to go a long ways South. I stopped again in the White Pigeon library to fill up my water bottles, take a break from the saddle, and glance at the Indiana map to see how close I might be. Continued on passing Fish Lake and only knew I got into Indiana once I crossed over what I assumed to be 80. I had no idea where the campground really was so I expected to go on 120 then follow the 13 until I found the campground. I stopped and had a salad at a bakery first. Getting back on my bike only to find out the campground was at the corner of 13 and 120. However, there was a sign for another campground 4 more miles further (4 more miles I didn't have to bike the next day, and had energy for now). Thus I stopped at Eby's campground. Setup tent, took a shower, ate some food, and laid down to rest around 8pm. With all my stuff in a single person tent it was kinda cramped. I kept waking up because of my sore neck.

Day 2: Eby's Campground to Wabash 68.6 miles

Morning started off well and early somewhere around 6am or 7am. I continued south along the 15 hoping to stop in Silver Lake Indiana. Biking through Goshen was nice, it had a neat downtown. Along the 15, I saw the World Missionary Press Inc ( The sign said they offered tours, so I stopped in, filled up my water bottles, they gave me some yummy bread, and I got a tour of the place. Machines never fail to peak my interest. I ate a footlong sub from a subway in Milford. The weather was pretty nice to this point except for the constant head winds the entire trip so far. The sky started to worry me in Warsaw when I stopped for a 10 minutes rest in a park. Warsaw is a fairly big city (I finally start to get a grasp of the size print of the city name to how big the city is and what they are likely to have). I continued biking after filling up my water bottles at a church. It started to sprinkle off and on and I am very much glad for fenders. Silver Lake was even smaller than expected, but looked fairly decent for stealth camping. I knew that there were supposed to be thunderstorms that night and much more rain so I stopped and asked if there were any places to stay of possible places that I could setup my tent for the night. The people didn't seem to be too keen on camping and thought the best place would have been is Warsaw. I passed Warsaw so I wasn't going to bike back. Thus, Wabash was my next goal. It rained all the way until I hit Wabash. My legs were sore, I was wet, expected thunderstorms, a hotel sounded decent. Hotel Inn Express was the only option I really saw, and was right next to a Ponderosa Buffet! Buffet was amazing after 70 miles of biking followed by a nice relaxing hot tub. Shower and off to bed. My rear end not nearly as sore as I expected at the end of today. OH and the Warsaw Community High School was huge.

Day 3: Wabash to Logansport 28.5 miles

Good breakfast from the hotel. Weather, cold, 20-30mph windy (biking into the wind), and rainy. Thunderstorms were supposed to kick in around 3pm to 5pm so I choose a shorter day so I could make it before the thunderstorms. I left the hotel around 8am and the weather made biking miserable. I followed the old 24 to Logansport. Well the old 24 changed names so many times, I'll just call it the old 24. The old 24 ran parallel with some train tracks so I saw a couple of trains pass by. Biking into the wind was hard enough with 40lb of gear making my bike a sail, but with the nearly constant downpour of rain, it was miserable. The scenery was nice, but weather put a damper on the ride. The worst part was where old 24 intersects 24. I had to stop biking for a few minutes because the rain came down soo hard I could barely see the road. According to the sign, the next hotel is "6 minutes ahead", but not if you are biking. On top of the rain and wind at this point, old 24 stopped having a paved shoulder plus an increase in traffic with more hills and blind curves. I kept on having to get off and walk to wait for a car to pass. I arrived at a motel 8 around 3:30pm. A hotel sounded even better than the night before with thunderstorms coming through any minute, wetter, colder, and frustrated with the blind curved hills (oh and I forgot to put a bag around the tent so that needed to dry, so camping probably not a good idea). Hotel costs add up very quickly I might add. Thunderstorms where making me nervous because I was biking through many open fields, and being the tallest object, and the object being a steel bike, didn't seem too wise. Dried off, ate, then headed to bed.

Day 4: Logansport to Lebanon 63.1 miles

Oh of course more rain, but, wind was with me (well mostly). Biking out of Logansport was a bit chilly, but the wind was to my back making for some really easy biking. The Wabash river was an ugly/pukish green color, kinda a let down. I found some country roads that I decided to take and with the wind favorable to my back and no traffic, I cruised my fastest speeds yet with my highest gears. I arrived at Camden at 9:25am and at a huge (half order) of biscuits and gravy with some sausage at Little Bit Country Cafe (if I recall the name correctly). This would have been a perfect place to seek out some stealth camping. However, it was cold, raining, and I had just begun my day. I found that the 75 was decent to bike on. The winds were coming from ENE, so the wind was no longer to my back, but at least I wasn't biking directly into the wind. Biking was monotonous however my body was not nearly as sore as I had originally expected. In Frankfort I stopped at the library to dry off. I was completely soaked and getting colder. My "rain" gear wasn't fully water proof. After 3 or 4 hours of biking in the rain, the water would start to soak through. I was able to use a computer at the library only to confirm another week of storms and rain along with flooding of southern Indiana. An hour break and I decided to continue on, this time with headphones and an mp3 playing. Another 20 miles to Lebanon and I was done for the day. Right as I started biking into Lebanon the song Free Bird started to play which gave a nice final boost to bike to my final destination. This time I was able to keep all my gear dry so I could have camped, however, I was completely drenched down to my shoes. After getting yet another hotel room, it took me all evening to get my clothes and shoes dry. The weather channel had nothing but bad news for weather for the next week. Southern Indiana looked like it was basically underwater (especially in Evansville). There was so much flooding I don't think camping would be very much of an idea.

Final Decision:

Thunderstorms, rain, wind, and flooding kinda put a damper on letting me camp or really continue the trip since I did not like the idea of paying for any more hotels. I was right next to the indianapolis airport, so I decided to fly from Indianapolis Indiana to Atlanta Georgia. Spent a week with my brother and his wife. Flew back from Atlanta to Grand Rapids. Plane tickets total $85, 4 days of biking way more than $85.

Life lives on...

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