Lebanon to Shades State Park: Carrots for dinner
Friday May 7, 2010, 48 miles (77 km) – Total so far: 95 miles (153 km)
I wake up and I’m ready to go. I’m not sore. I’m not tired. At the motel’s continental breakfast I toast two bagels, grab two cream cheese packets and a banana and then I’m on the road. I’m still so excited that I’m living my dream that I just get on the bike and go. As I head south out of town I notice that there is a southeasterly breeze about 10 mph. I fight this quartering headwind and considerable traffic up and over the interstate. The traffic eases after the I-65 junction and soon I turn off to head west on a county road. One nice thing about Indiana and Illinois is that the county roads are laid out in a grid pattern of mile-long blocks. You can head west on 800N- which will be 8 miles north of the county centre, turn south on 325W, which will be 3.25 miles west of centre, etc. You can zig zag your way in any direction and never really get lost.
As I cruise generally westward, the pavement is good and that southeasterly is giving me a decent push. I pass fields awaiting planting or sprouting corn that is just emerging from the soil. It reminds me of travelling throughout the state to visit relatives or to visit state parks when I was a kid. I haven’t lived here in over 15 years, but I’m amazed at how much I feel this is part of me, even if it’s not a part I often (or am willing to) recognise. Everything is just so green, even this early in the season. Where I live in Australia, it just doesn’t do lush green. I’m loving the thick soil, the well-kept lawns and the big tractors in the field. Oh yes, I’m a greenie, and I know that most of this is diminishing the soil and polluting the water, etc, but this is home and there is a security developed in childhood in this landscape.
As I ride, I’m nowhere in particular, just a little speck moving across a glaciated landscape. I’m on county backroads just wide enough for two cars. Occasionally I’m on gravel, but I’m always heading south or west on the square-mile grid of county roads. Shortly after crossing over I-74, I pull into New Ross. I’m looking for a place to sit and eat my bagels. There are a few blocks of houses and one main intersection where there is a post office, a bank and a couple other vacant businesses dwarfed by the grain silos – which is the only place in town where there are any cars.
In Ladoga, I stop to grab something from a small-town grocery for lunch. Boy, do I get the look from the ladies inside! Lycra and a sweaty chick aren’t really approved of – but I’m buying a tub of vinegar cole slaw, a bag of baby carrots and a half a pound of turkey, so my money is not refused. Heading back north, I fly along with the wind until I find the west road I’m looking for. I eventually find a section of road with trees, pull out the grocery bag to sit on in the road verge and enjoy my lunch out of the wind. I reapply sunscreen and head onward, noting that the wind is now directly out of the south. I no longer am getting a push – it’s just a pushy crosswind instead. The weather radio indicates there are 20 mph winds, gusting up to 35 mph, increasing later this afternoon. I know the wind will keep moving to the southwest to bring those storms in, so I know conditions will only deteriorate.
At New Market I stop and there’s no food. Not good. This is where I hoped to get food for dinner tonight. I’m not ready to stoop to convenience store foods yet – so I buy a rootbeer (ahhh, it’s one of my favourite soft drinks and I can’t get this back home in Oz – just sarsaparilla and it’s not quite the same) and head across the road to the public park to drink it and re-check the map. I find the toilets unlocked and not scary. Some miles later, I notice the wind is now starting to quarter from the southwest a bit, and I push on, knowing I’ve still got about 10 miles to go. As I’m slowly riding on an uphill into the gusty wind, two dogs come out to chase me. But they aren’t really chasing me, they’re just running alongside like I’m taking them for a walk (well, I am doing a walking speed!). They dash off and come back several times and follow me for a ¼ mile before they suddenly stop and head home. Soon I get to a curvy section where I’m heading downhill along the tree-lined road. As the road steepens and the turns tighten, I brake a bit, but just hold on and hope that it’ll be okay. At the bottom there’s a beautiful little hollow with sandstone banks.
I stop along the bridge for a photo and to contemplate how I’m going to make it up that gravel hill that seemingly goes straight up in front of me. In the end, I get about 100 feet up and have to get off and push. Day 2. It’s the first time I have to walk the bike up a hill. However, as I round the corner to the part of the hill I could not see from the bottom, I console myself that I would not even be able to make it up something this steep on an unloaded mountain bike. This part of Indiana is pretty flat, but there are some short, steep hills directly adjacent to watercourses.
From here it’s not long to the turnoff to the state park – which is good, because it’s no longer very sunny and the wind is definitely from the southwest. I fight against it down the county road, past the gun club and to the park entrance. It is here that I pay the most outrageous fees of just about any night for the trip. The entrance station lady is peeved I don’t have a reservation for the campground (even though the campground is less than a ¼ full that night) and proceeds to take what seems like forever to process this all on a computer, only to then hand-write the campsite number on a tag.
I’m standing there in a swarm of gnats and watching the clouds thicken as she says she’ll stick me close to the bathroom since it’s the storm shelter. She’s also peeved that I have no other shelter since there is a tornado watch posted until 10pm. My feeling is that if a tornado came, even if I had a car, I’d rather be in the restroom, thank you very much! She then charges me $13.24 for camping and 2 day’s worth of entry fee’s. $18.24 to camp for the night in a public campground – outrageous!
I ‘sprint’ to the campground and find my assigned site is near to the toilets and also right next to the campground entrance road, but I don’t really care at this point. It is really cloudy and windy now, though thankfully less windy in the trees. I set up the tent, trying to avoid the very prevalent poison ivy. I stake it in well and head off for a shower.
It’s a grotty shower, with a misty spray and a button that you have to keep pressing to keep the water on. I wash out my clothes in my foldable bucket – finishing just as it starts to rain. I climb in the tent. Ahhhh, it feels so good to be camping!
I string up a rope in the tent, hang my things to dry, and contemplate how good the day was, even though all I’ve got is a half pound of baby carrots for dinner, I had to fight the wind all afternoon and now I fear for the strong storms that the weather radio says are on the way. Sure enough, two rounds of storms, both with lightning and thunder cracking loudly above me, roll through over the next 2 hours. Theoretically I know I’m pretty safe but I cuddle down in my sleeping bag anyway, because I don’t care what other people say – when you’re lying on the ground and you can feel the vibration of the thunder in the earth beneath you, that’s pretty dang scary. I sleep well once the storms have passed.
Ave speed: 10mph
Max speed: 25.1mph