I made a last-minute decision yesterday to ride my bike, fully loaded with camping gear, to Clifty Falls State Park and stay overnight. I plotted a route of roughly 35 miles.
Let me back up a minute. The last few days did not go as planned. Saturday, my daughter graduated from high-school, and a few family members (including my ex-wife) drove down from Michigan to attend. The graduation was fine. It was neat to watch, and several people cried.
My daughter decided some time ago to move back to Michigan after graduation. My ex-wife and I both were going to haul her stuff back to Michigan. I was also going to take a bike with me and visit an old friend, and ride with someone who I’ve talked to online. I had requested Monday and Tuesday off of work to have time to do this.
For reasons I won’t go into here, I did not drive to Michigan on Sunday. So I found myself with a couple of “free days”. What do I do with “free days”? I ride my bike of course!
So, I figured my first bike-camping trip, and about 70 miles of riding would be a nice way to spend two days off. It turned out much better than that.
There were some concerns about possible severe weather, but I decided I’d risk it. The ride was hot, but pleasant. I took a nice slow pace and made it there in about 3 1/2 hours. The odometer read 36.8 miles for the day. I found a two-mile stretch of a pleasant gravel road along the way. It wasn’t “seriously epic” like some of the roads Tim and I have found, but it was quite pleasant.
After getting my tent set-up, I talked to a bike tourist who was also camped there. I was sure to tell him that I was simply doing an overnight trip.
This bike tourist was John. He’s riding from Buffalo to Atlanta. He was on day 11 of his journey. He was following the an ACA route that would take him through my town of residence of Charlestown Indiana. We agreed to ride together the next day, at least as far as Charlestown.
John was riding a beautiful lugged-steel touring bike that he bought used and had repainted and built up to match his desires. The bike had toured Europe and Asia with it’s previous owner. He told me the manufacturer of the frame, but I can’t remember now.
I had trouble sleeping. The ground was hard. The tent was not well-ventilated and it was hot and humid. I eventually fell asleep only to woken by a windstorm. There was no rain, the tent didn’t fall over, so I guess it was a success. The wind also solved the heat and humidity issue.
Clifty Falls has a new shower facility, so I was able to take a shower when arriving, and another after getting up at 6:00 a.m. I kept this trip simple and did not plan on cooking. I ate fig bars for breakfast , broke camp, packed the bike, then rode over to see if John was up.
Before long, John was ready to roll. His ACA map had him going on Highway 62, which I had seen was under construction, and not safe for riding. We followed my previous day’s route, in reverse to get back to Charlestown, stopping at a small diner in New Washington for breakfast (okay, I had a burger for breakfast)
There were some strange, fast-moving clouds that passed overhead, and the associated wind gust gave us a strong but brief tailwind. The weather cleared up later.
After arriving in Charlestown we stopped by my house to unload my extra gear. We stopped for a snack and more coffee around town. John grabbed some supplies from the grocery store.
I made the decision to ride along with John for a while longer. I didn’t have a firm plan, but wasn’t ready to end the adventure.
After looking at the ACA maps, I planned a much better route that avoided much traffic and took us down the recently re-opened Waterline Rd through the old ammunition plant.
We meandered through Utica and Jeffersonville. The riding got much more urban. We rode through Clarksville, saw the Louisville skyline, and made our way to New Albany where we stopped for water and snacks. Did I mention it was hot?
John was now following the ACA maps again, as my knowledge of this area wasn’t as good. We eventually ended up on Corydon Pike, and we climbed up to Edwardsville. At this stage it was time to say goodbye. We had ridden together for about 70 miles. John had to be in Corydon in time to set up camp for the night. I needed to get home in time to get ready for bed, as I do work tomorrow.
I took a very urban, traffic-heavy route home. I pushed a lot harder and faster, as I wanted to stop for pizza and beer at my favorite watering hole before going home. I enjoyed a single beer and some lasagna in lieu of pizza and headed home.
The last portion of the ride made my legs more sore than the previous miles combined. I should have learned my lesson from John about pacing. He rarely exceeds 11mph.
I arrived home with 93 miles for the day. That’s in addition to the nearly 37 miles yesterday. June 2010 is now a record mileage month for me. The month isn’t over, so it’ll be interesting to see the final total on July 1st.