Day 51 Rushville to Madison Indiana

View from Clifty Falls Park near Madison

I reached my final routing point today, Madison Indiana where I lived as a child. On the way to Madison, I routed to stop at the cemetery where my father, his brother and their parents are buried. Since he died when I was three, and his parents died less than a year later, I didn't really know any of them. Still, that cemetery is a special place for me and the main reason I came back to Madison. The secondary reason is that Madison, which is an 1800's Ohio River Town, is a Federal Historical Preserve that is frozen in time, pretty much at the time of my childhood. Asheville, according to Thomas Wolfe was a place to which you could never go home again. Madison, is a place where I can go home again, at least superficially.

This is the house I lived in on Main Street 47 years ago

This is the bridge across the Ohio that I tried to ride my tricycle across almost 50 years ago

Madison is a beautiful river town which is well worth visiting and Clifty Falls Sate Park, located just west of Madison, is a great place to bicycle, hike, and camp. Rushville, where I started my day, is a also a pretty place, although not as spectacular as Madison. The topography of Indiana changes rather dramatically between these two towns, going from nearly flat to hilly enough to remind me of riding in the mountains of western North Carolina. The weather also changed dramatically, going from gloom to bright sunshine, unfortunately it stayed very humid.

This is what IN 3 looked like leaving Rushville

This is IN 3 near North Vernon

The riding today was mostly pretty easy. I expected more headwinds, but got a tailwind for the first half of my ride today. That meant I was averaging 15 mph instead of 12. The shoulder was good, the pavement was smooth, the weather was gloomy, but the driver didn't have any trouble seeing me, so the riding was good for the first hour. Then I hit six miles of construction which meant a bumpy narrow shoulder and much less pleasant riding.

Construction for six mile before I-74 intersection

After I crossed that intersection, I was 'back on the strip' again in Greensburg. I stopped at the end of the strip at a BP station to get some, over priced, cola. It was time for a break, and those six miles of construction riding had left me tired and drippy. Did I mention the humidity? Sweat didn't evaporate very well today!

Two very nice MG TCs

I was sitting outside the station, resting and snacking when two (!) beautiful MG TCs pulled in to get gas. TCs are from the early 50s and there aren't many of them on the road any more. I couldn't resist the opportunity for a visit with both of the drivers. They were coming from a MG get together at French Lake where half a dozen TCs from as many states - these folks were from Ohio - had gotten together, along with some more common older MGs. I saw two MG TDs on IN 3 an hour or so later, and I expect they were coming from the same meet.

IN 3 for a few miles south of I-74

IN 3 after the expressway - nice!

Once the short expressway section ended, IN 3 was very nice riding all the way to IN 7, just before North Vernon. I stopped in Westport for a milkshake and North Vernon at a subway for my usual buy; a foot long sub and take half of it with me deal. The riding south of Westport was superb. I felt like I was on some kind of Parkway with light traffic, great scenery, and gently rolling hills.

IN 3 joins IN 7 just north of North Vernon. This is another ugly, but useful since it has service, strip area, and it doesn't last very long. After IN 7 crosses US 50, it returns to being a pleasant ride and, after IN 7 leaves Vernon, it is downright reminiscent of western North Carolina.

Just south of Vernon

Roughly halfway to Madison

I stopped just south of Dupont, to visit the cemetery, then rode on to IN 62. IN 62, which is two miles north of the river, serves as Madison's strip. Because of its Federal Historical Preserve status, Madison proper does not have any of the stuff that exisits on the strip in every US town of moderate size. No neon, no Wall-Mart, no fast food, no convenience stores, etc. Madison has only the kind of businesses it had in 1954 when it was made a preserve. This is wonderful for the character of Madison, but folks, me included, want some of those services, so they are available 'just over the hill' from Madison proper.

After taking a break at a convenience store, I rode a mile or so to an inexpensive motel I had stayed at fifteen years ago. I knew it still existed and I figured it would be a good place to stay. It is, and, at $28.50 cash, it is the cheapest motel I've stayed in the states on this tour. My room doesn't have a telephone, the bed is only a double,and the bathtub drains a bit slowly, otherwise it is just as comfortable as the Holiday Inn Express I stayed at last night for $65.00 and I didn't have to carry my bike up to the second floor! To be fair, the Holiday Inn Express had a really good continental breakfast which I made good use of.

After cleaning up a bit, I rode my unloaded bike into Madison. The hill between IN 62 and Madison is steep and has several hundred feet of vertical drop, so I knew I would be doing some climbing on my way back. I visited old home places and then rode along the river.

Lanier Mansion - the most famous mansion in Madison

Madison is nice, all fixed up and gentrified. The driver of one of the MG TCs mentioned that Madison was doing very well. I noticed that even the areas of town that flood regularly have been fixed up nicely, and that even the smallest homes were almost all nicely painted and fixed up. Folks that collect MG TCs, not a poor mans hobby, would feel right at home in Madison, but I suspect the working folk may have been forced out by rising property costs and taxes.

Heading up into Clifty Falls Park

I rode west along the river, intending to ride to Hanover, a nearby town, and then back to my motel on IN 62. Just at the big power plant whose twin smoke stacks have dominated Madison's west end for more than half a century, the road has been 'upgraded' with wide gravel shoulders that were a pain to ride on. I was fine riding without the shoulders, but with them, I was unhappy on that road. Driver expect me to be on that shoulder, but that shoulder was not good riding, so I turned back and decided to ride back to my motel through Clifty Falls Park. That turned out to be an excellent idea.

It costs $1 for a bicyclist to enter the park ($3 for a car) and that gets you access to some really nice riding as well as to hiking, a fancy inn, and a campground. If you come in, as I did, through the south entrance, you get to climb a pretty good hill to get to the main part of the park. I was very glad not to have my bags on the bike as I climbed most of that hill in my lowest gear! Once you get to the top of that hill, or if you come in from the north, most of the roads in the park are gently rolling. They are also well shaded by trees and very pleasant to ride. The surface is rough, rough enough that most of the picture I took while riding were blurry, but the riding is great.

When I was roughly in the middle of the park, I ran out of memory in my digital camera. I stopped on the edge of the road to change to my spare memory card, and, as I was changing card, a girl rode by on a mountain bike. She called back to her father, asking him if he was going to make the hill <grin>, and then he came huffing up on his mountain bike. He and I ended up riding together through the rest of the park and then visiting some more with his daughter before I headed for my motel and they headed back to do another loop in the park. They had moved here from Wisconsin fifteen years ago and he really loves living in Madison. His sixteen year old daughter can't wait to go off to college in a bigger town. Very nice folks and a pleasant way to end this ride through Indiana. Indiana is really a nice state to ride in, at least on the semi rural roads that I have used.

I've encountered a few jerks on the road in this state, and a whole lot of polite friendly people. What I haven't seen much of, is folks who are in such a hurry that their normal behavior makes riding dangerous for me. The jerks, like the man in an SUV who passed into me on a narrow shoulder this morning without even attempting to pull over as he zoomed past, are always going to act with disregard for others safety. Fortunately, there are only a few jerks, so they aren't as dangerous to me as the normal drivers in many states - or near any big city - who act as if the believe I have no right to be on the road and they have no obligation to accommodate my being there. In Indiana, the normal drivers have acted as if I have the right to be on the road with them and have handled their interaction with me politely and sensibly.

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