Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bike America Day 56: Pop! (Soda, tires... whatever)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day's distance: 70.54 miles
Overall distance: 2,809 miles

On Tuesday morning, my mom drove us back to the spot beside the road where my dad and I finished riding on Monday. It was 6 or 8 miles and the country roads seemed to go on forever during the drive. I said, “did we really ride all of these hills yesterday?!” It seemed very hilly in the car and I was pleased to realize that I’d become so accustomed to riding that I barely noticed these rolling hills on my bike. It is normally very much easier to notice hills on a bike than in a car. My dad pumped his tires and I photographed the lone stalk of corn in the middle of this field of soy beans. Then we were on our way.

Only 3.95 miles later, as we rode over a rough, gravelly road, I was startled by the loud POP noise right in front of me. My dad’s back tube had burst and  ripped apart the worn down tire around it. We had no service so I rode a little ways back to call my mom and beckon her sagging services. We sat around for about a half hour, talking about world economics of corn production. My mom showed and rode with me while my dad stayed behind to replace his tire.

It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining. We spent the first few miles on more small county roads before coming to the Salamonie River State Forest, which we entered  just before mile 20. We didn’t see another person in the park but noticed the primitive campground along the road. It was full of the kind of long hills that are not my mom’s favorite thing to ride on. She powered through them like a champion. We nearly got lost because of a few unsigned roads but eventually found our way through. On the backside was a dam with large hawks perched on it. Across from the dam, we had a nice view of fisherman in the river and the Lagro water tower in the distance.

My mom figured that my dad, in the car, may have gotten lost in the forest because of the unclear road markers so she called him. He had made it through the forest another way and would meet us further ahead on the route. At mile 34, we met him and stopped at the car for lunch. I had a cheese on cheese sandwich with aged cheddar and herbed goat cheese between two slices of wheat bread. I really love cheese.

My dad and I rode from there and had a lovely afternoon. We saw horse and goats hanging out and thought it curious that the two animals were so buddy buddy. The goats were almost acting as if the horses were their mothers. It was adorable.

We passed a small, old brick building and my dad asked, “do you think that is a church or a school?” As we rounded the corner, we saw that it was currently a home but had clearly been one of the two at some point. There was a cement plaque high on the front with something written on it but we went by too fast to read it. I soon regretted not stopping to look because I continued to be curious about what the building had been. Our good fortune soon led us right by another building like it and our question was answered. This second, matching brick structure had written over the door, Liberation District No. [blank], and we stopped for a picture. It was an old one-room school house that was turned into somebody’s home. What an awesome place to live!

Then we saw another interesting but entirely different home. This one was stucco and underground. My dad, an architect, said that the house must have been built and then a hill constructed around it. We also decided that it would be great insulation for keeping hot and cold air inside.

While there were these few unique homes, there were also a lot of big, cookie cutter McMansions with very little around them. As we rode east toward the end of our day, we started to feel closer to civilization and more inside suburbia. The houses became more frequent and the roads began to have names other than CR###.

At mile 70, we arrived at the long-awaited overnight town of Monroeville, IN. One blogger we read says that this is a must stop for any cyclist riding on the Northern Tier and he was right. The town’s park service had arranged for their city park pavilion to double as an overnight shelter for bikers. They have a kitchen, showers, laundry, power, and a big open space to sleep in.

Also there were two women, Bee and Marlin, from Ohio on a week long trip and an Amish man named Lavern from Indiana. My mom and I had been planning for days what we’d cook with the kitchen that we’d been longing for all summer. She wanted to make linguine with clam sauce and I wanted pasta with pesto. So we made both sauces, a whole box of pasta, and a salad. We ate outside in the pavilion and shared the pasta with Bee and Marlin. They met as school teachers and have been biking buddies for years. They had ridden the entire Northern Tier, from AnacortesWA to Bar HarborME in four different phases over the course of four years. They were on their way to a windmill museum the next day.

We made a trip into town for ice cream at Whippee Dip and then tucked into our sleeping bags in the lovely comfort of an air conditioned room. I will reiterate, if your riding your bike on the Northern Tier, Monroeville is a must stop!

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