Day 50 Warren to Rushville Indiana
A Muncie Bypass Bike Killer
My tour came within an inch of ending today as I rode around Muncie Indiana on the IN 3 - US 35 bypass. I had just started around Muncie when, after I navigated the first exit (for IN 67), I failed to realize that some engineers don't think at all about bikes. I was watching the traffic - getting across expressway exits is dangerous - and not the shoulder, when I looked ahead and saw I was a few feet from disaster. I jerked the bike sideways as hard as I could yet still went down onto a drainage grate that would have cause me to endo if my front wheel had gone into one of its slots. I must have moved over enough to go on the edge of the grating, because I did not crash, but it sure scared me! I continued, with pounding heart, on around, looking carefully each time I crossed an exit, but found only one more, I think it on the Enterprise Street exit. On that one, I stopped, took a picture, and carefully lowered my front wheel - 700x32 tire - into one of the sots. The tire and wheel went in about half way up to the axle! These two bike (and possibly bike rider) killers are located right where a bike travels as its rider negotiates the exits. Moreover, a riders attention is focused on the traffic, not the road, right where these guys are located. If you know anybody with some pull in Muncie, ask them to fit those grating before they seriously hurt somebody!
Pretty, rural, IN 3 south of I-70
Most of my riding today was on Indiana 3. It was a steamy day, hazy with little sun and the ever present treat of rain. After a good breakfast and a visit with the Indians who run the motel - they were very interested in my bike - I rode on IN 5 for two miles and then on IN 218 for another two miles, on my way to IN 3. I was worried that IN 3 might not be a good road and that I would need to work my way back west to IN 9. When I got to IN 3, I was surprised that it, like IN 5 and IN 218, it had no shoulder.
IN 3 north of IN 18
However, there didn't seem to be much traffic, and I'm used to riding on roads with no shoulders in North Carolina, so I headed down IN 3. It was delightful! Light traffic - I could hear the birds and the bugs, especially the cicadas - polite drivers, nice scenery, and a decent surface. Very pleasant riding.
The new IN 3 south of IN 18
About five miles later, IN 3 was almost redone with good shoulders. The shoulder isn't marked, but there was plenty of pavement and no problems with the polite drivers. Things got a little more hectic coming into Hartford City, but the new, wide, pavement lasted all the way through town. I stopped at a convenience store to get some Coke and eat a snack. While I was eating a fellow, driving an auto parts store truck, stopped to visit with me about my tour. He is from North Vernon which I 'll be riding through tomorrow.
Between Hartford City and the Muncie Bypass, IN 3 is an older version of new IN 3 with good shoulders and increasing traffic as it approaches Muncie. The only problem on this stretch was a mile or less before the bypass where they were upgrading the shoulder to make it wider at an intersection. I had just ridden trough another upgraded intersection and was not impressed by the bumpy new wider shoulder, but this intersection had no shoulder at all because they had removed the old one, but hadn't yet put in the new one. Fortunately I made it most of the way through with no traffic coming up behind me. Then I sprinted, as best I could, while a semi waited patiently for me to reach the first shoulder south of the intersection.
The Muncie Bypass
When I reached the bypass, I wasn't sure which way to go. I finally decided to take the bypass because it had a great shoulder and most of the traffic was going into town. Taking the bypass mean going farther, but without traffic problems, and climbing half a dozen overpasses. It also mean encountering that bike killer grating, but I didn't know that yet. I also didn't know and couldn't tell from my map, that it meant skipping all services in Muncie.
I had planned to eat lunch in Muncie, but ended up snacking by the side of the expressway south of town instead. I was very happy that I had one major snack left. Without it, I would have had to ride several miles back into Muncie or risk bonking on my way to New Castle. When I am on a long tour, my body needs to eat every two hours or so. If it doesn't, I run out of oomph very quickly. I have a much greater tolerance for not eating when I'm not riding all day, every day.
IN 3 south of Muncie and north of New Castle
After snacking, I rode down the expressway portion of IN for while, putting up with the noise of passing vehicles. The traffic was not heavy, but the road surface was that damned grooved concrete which is very noisy. Finally, when I found a side road where I could stop to pee, I put in my left earplug. Riding was soooo much nicer after that! This expressway is old and the shoulders are bumpy and dirty, so I needed to pay attention, especially to the truck tire fragments to avoid getting a flat. Speaking of tires, my Specialized Nimbus EX is still doing well. It has done about 3000 mile of rear tire service on my loaded bike without any problems. I like it well enough that, since Nashbar is closing 700x28 Nimbus EXs out for $7.95, I just ordered three of 'em for my next tour. I also ordered two Panaracer Paselas (700x32 which is really 700x28) for use on my touring bike during the winter for the good sale price of $9.95 each. Paselas are a lot lighter than the Nimbus or TT2000s, handle better, and handle light touring OK, but are not, in my experience, up to long loaded tours. It seems that the Nimbus EX is.
Coming into New Castle, I was looking for a place to eat, but, just before the strip - such a strip! - started, an SUV with a kayak sticking out the back pulled over ahead of me and wanted to visit. We visited for ten minutes or so and then a sherrifs car pulled up and the deputy came up to see if we needed any help. These Hoosiers are certainly friendly folk! I have had more people speak to me, wave to me, honk at me, etc. in the two days I have been riding in Indiana than in the two weeks before that.
I stopped at a Bob Evans for lunch. When I rode through Indiana five years ago, I stopped at a Bob Evans near Plymouth and enjoyed my lunch, so I decided to try for a repeat. It was a good, if very late in the afternoon, lunch, I think it was better than I could have done at any of the other chain places on that strip. As I headed out after lunch, I got sprinkled on a little bit, so I considered my stopping options. I could stop in New Castle and still have a reasonable days ride to Madison tomorrow, or I could go on and see how thing developed. I went on.
IN 3 south of New Castle and north of I-70
In New Castle, there were four lanes with a center turn lane and no shoulders. With well behaved drivers, that was fine. South of New Castle, but north of I-70, IN 3 gets good shoulders, then, south of I-70, it goes back to being the a nice two lane road with light traffic and decent shoulders. It also goes back to the corn fields with variety supplied by trees and small hills. It isn't as boring as corn fields in several other state <grin>, but still it is corn and soybeans (?) and not a whole lot else.
South of US 40 on IN 3 - a bit gloomy - Rushville 16, Greenburg 32
My left knee has been bothering me for a few days - think I may have over stressed it a bit on my ride to Sturgis - and it was not doing well late this afternoon, so, when I reached Rushville, I stopped for the day. My next stopping option was sixteen miles further on and my knee didn't feel up to it. After finding a, 50% more expensive than last night's bargain, room and cleaning up, I went out shopping for supper and snacks. One of the things I got was sliced peanut butter and jelly. It is similar to 'sliced' processed cheese, and, like that product, bears only a passing resemblance to the real thing, but, it is edible and I'll see how it holds up in the heat tomorrow.
Speaking of heat, I expect that the rest of this tour is going to be hot and muggy with headwinds. As I write this it is storming outside. I was lucky today in that I rode through several places, including Rushville, where it had rained heavily earlier in the day. If I am lucky again tomorrow, and the long range weather forecast holds (hah!), I should have dry, but hot and muggy weather for the rest of this tour. Today I had light to moderate headwinds all day, lighter wind than yesterday, but also pure headwinds instead of side/headwinds.