Since we'd finally located the Cardinal Greenway trailhead in Richmond, Indiana the day before (see this blog post), it was an easy 2.5-mile bike ride over from our hotel the next morning for our long ride north. Barry planned to ride to the town of Gaston and back (over 100 miles round trip), and I was going to ride just as long as I felt like it and turn around when I wanted. Ah, freedom!
We were lucky enough to get a beautiful, sunny day in the 70s for this long ride, and we got going right after breakfast. On the way over, Barry spied this sign so stopped for a photo op. Richmond really is a nice little town -- who knew?
The Cardinal Greenway rail trail is very attractive and and pretty much flat, though I am sure it rises and falls just a bit here and there. Wind was light so was not a big factor -- what a change from so many windy spring rides we've taken lately!
Barry and I rode over to the trailhead and started out together, but before too long we split up as he wanted (and needed) to ride faster than me to meet his mileage goals. We kept up with each other by occasional cell phone calls along the way.
Here's Barry about to ride under I-70, the interstate we took so many times heading to and from Kansas City, but never knew the Cardinal Greenway ran right underneath it! There's a big FedEx distribution center in KC, so good chance this tandem trailer was heading east from there.
It was very easy and fun riding north as the small amount of wind must have been at my back, and any minor slope must have favored that direction after the first few miles out of Richmond. There was another cyclist riding south from time to time, but for the most part, the trail was quiet and a breeze to ride.
I helped this little guy covered in dried dirt, across the trail. We'd seen a big snapping turtle crossing earlier when we were riding together. No, we didn't try to give him a hand (or a finger or three!)
I didn't make it all the way to the city of Muncie, home of Ball State University, so Barry took some photos for me. He said I didn't miss too much.
Barry called me from the northern end of the trail at Gaston. He was now half way done with his ride, and I was about 2/3 finished with mine as I'd already turned around in Medford. I rode farther north than I expected, as it was just so smooth and easy, but I started paying for that later in the ride.
Although there are porta-potties at every trailhead along the greenway, there is but one water fountain along the portion of the trail south of Muncie, in the tiny hamlet of Losantville. I had only brought one water bottle, counting on a refill at this fountain, but when I arrived in Losantville, I discovered the fountain was "temporarily out of order", per the handwritten sign. Running out of water is every cyclist's worst nightmare on a rural ride with no stores or restaurants along the way.
Fortunately Losantville did happen to have two convenience stores close to the trail -- the only town on the section of trail I rode that did. So I was able to ride over to one on my way south for a bottle of water and one of Mountain Dew (for the caffeine!)
The only real negative of the ride was the aggressive red-winged blackbirds that dive-bombed my helmet, squawked, and chased me no less than 6-8 times coming and going through the more open trail areas. They must have nests nearby. I yelled and waved my arm, but this is the first time I have ever been scared of a bird. I would probably avoid riding this trail at this exact time of year again for that reason alone. Barry also got chased, though not quite as often as I did.
After getting back, I googled, and turns out this is a common phenomenon in many areas during nesting season. People reported getting chased and dive bombed by red-winged blackbirds while walking, running, cycling -- they even terrorize farmers on tractors. I read on one blog that tragically, one man lost his life when he fell off his bike during a blackbird attack. He was not wearing a helmet. Since they go for the back of your head, I was really, really glad to have my helmet on! Shades of The Birds, no?
I started regretting how far north I'd ridden between miles 55 and 65, since I was now having to retrace my steps (so to speak). At that point, the little bit of wind seemed worse than it was, the trail seemed all uphill, my quads were burning, and my posterior was very tired of sitting on a bike saddle. I stopped quite a few times in the return leg just to stretch and get off the saddle for a couple of minutes.
Fortunately, the last five miles or so back into Richmond are all slightly downhill, so I got my second wind there, and finished strong! I even felt great on the last 2.5 miles in town back to the hotel and ended up with my longest ride of the year, clocking 75.8 miles.
Barry rolled into the hotel a little later in the afternoon, and I was able to capture a shot of him riding in from the road, all smiles.
Why is this man smiling? Because he just completed his second century (100+ mile bike ride) in less than a week. Over 110 miles -- truly amazing!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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