A 3 ½ hour drive south of the bend brings you to Parke County, America’s capital for scenic covered bridges and small-town charm. Six SBAC adventurers decided to make the trek with bikes in tow sans one; we had an adventurer opt to run 10 miles while the remaining five of us let our feet kiss pedals and tour this Midwest countryside.
The Plan: A 28-mile loop on relatively flat roadways of Indiana countryside that would pass by at least 3 covered bridges. Aiming to finish in roughly 2-2.5 hours.
We started off with excited uncertainty and scoffed at the brisk temps and unrelenting wind. We wore hats, layers and tighty tights. We had hydration, chapstick and granola bars. We admired the antique shops and fall skyline. We cautiously avoided a handful of unleashed dogs. And, then, as if the score straight out of Jaws had suddenly been queued, we saw our first hill … and then our second hill … and then our third …
My weary body and average bike frame (I own a hybrid) stubbornly challenged the unrelenting terrain. I’m recovering from almost a year-long injury (herniated disc) and this suddenly seemed out of my nearly nonexistent cardio range. I had to walk a few of those hills (as did some of the others at times). Those steep inclines seemed endless; my lungs gasped for air and my legs ached for a break. I admired my comrades’ seemingly effortless pedal thrusts. I took the lead to organize this trip but was now spending it pedaling dead last. What gives?!?
I looked around me and in the pockets uninhabited by cars, it was quiet. The woods were picturesque as a few strains of yellow lingered to tell us fall wasn’t yet over. Cows lazily dotted still-green hills as they were out to pasture and hawks (if you could spot them) were skimming the air. Tired and (admittedly) feeling defeated, I stopped fighting the urge to “keep up” or “look tough.” I took a deep breath and enjoyed the view. When I did catch up with my fellow bikers, we took a break to check our location status and share some incredibly funny stories.
“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” – Izaak Walton
There’s something to be said of the people you spend an adventure with from the SBAC. No one truly complains and no one traipses about with a God complex. The temps were tough but we were tougher. The hills were steep but we weren’t (entirely) intimidated. We got turned around (it isn’t an adventure if you don’t get slightly “lost” right?), but it only made the goal of getting back to Rockville that much sweeter.
The Outcome: A rugged, cool 24-mile ride riddled with hills, bumps, laughs, barbaric yelps (well, just one, and it was Frank, of course) and one lingering stop to change a flat tire. We finished in roughly 3-3.5 hours.
Before departing Parke County, we tried the Jailhouse Café. Cozy, laid back and one of the best soy hazelnut lattes I’ve had in a while. We were then led by Kerry, at gunpoint*, to West Lafayette for Shaukin’s Indian fast food. That was pretty darn good, too.
See you on the next adventure.
*Dramatic detail added for exaggerated effect to emphasize Kerry’s implicit love for this Indian fare.