My husband and I lead "Grand Touring" rides for the local bike club, Central Indiana Bicycling Association. This past weekend was the first for the year. We had been fielding emails and phone calls about it all week and with the weather forecast for sunny and high in the 80’s we were expecting a large turnout. We weren’t disappointed – more than 50 people came from all over central Indiana. We set the record for bicyclists and temperature.
We had bagels and bananas for the group and provided baggies to be able to take bagels with them as our first rest stop in Brookville didn’t have a planned food stop.
We rode a 48 mile loop from Metamora, through Brookville, St. Peters, St. Mary’s, Oldenburg and Peppertown. (route map) At Brookville, a few people took the 27 mile route giving them fewer miles, but not any fewer hills. Most of the bicyclists chose to continue on the longer route.
The sun and warm temperatures were great; the wind was not. The route has several tough climbs, but they’re spaced out along the route and you usually get a break in the open/flat areas in between. Unfortunately, where we expected to get a respite from climbing, we faced a really tough headwind or crosswind instead. With 30-40 mph gusts, it was a struggle to go faster than 10 mph against the wind. Since it was the first long ride for many, the ride was quite a challenge for everyone.
But the scenery and comraderie made it worth the challenge. The redbuds were in full bloom as were lots of wildflowers along the route. At one point there were at least 20 separate conversations going on as we enjoyed the warm spring day, getting to know new people and/or reconnecting with people we hadn’t seen since last fall. The few times we rode with the wind, it was amazing how quiet it was.
After Oldenburg, we had one more tough climb. We were looking forward to having the wind at our back and going down the (steep) curvy downhill back to Metamora. But our challenges weren’t over.
Unfortunately, the gravel gremlins were at work. There were several bad gravel patches and those that attempted to ride through them were greeted with flats. We had a mini-clinic on fixing flat tires as more than 7 people got flat tires from the gravel. The gravel was very loose; two people had sidewall punctures from the gravel, which are not that common. We walked the rest of the gravel and then continued on the last 6 miles of the route with the wind at our back and enjoyed the downhill into Metamora.
Still smiling after the ride! We didn’t set any speed records – with the hills, wind and walking through the gravel patches we averaged a blistering 12.2 mph for the ride. But we made up for our speed (or lack of) as we all shared our stories and experiences while we enjoyed our well-earned ice cream after the ride.
Connie Szabo Schmucker
Bicycle Garage Indy