Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Morgan-Monroe State Forest

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Sarah and I drove through Morgan-Monroe State Forest this weekend, and I really liked that whole area. I knew I wanted to ride my bike there. We often go for drives on weekends, usually with photography as a goal. These drives are also a great way to think of new places to ride my bike. And there’s something rewarding about taking a solid Sunday afternoon drive and turning it into a bike ride. I had planned a route in Garmin MapSource, but had no immediate plans to ride it. The planned route was a 32-mile loop with one section shared on both the way out and on the way back.

Yesterday, I decided I’d go for it. I got off to a slightly later start than I wanted because I was trying to get my GPS handlebar mount to fit on my road bike’s handlebars, with no success. The bars just seem to be too thick at the point where I could put it.

My ride to the state forest went by pretty quickly. I was moving at a good clip, but still really enjoying the scenery. I rode on several really cool rural roads. I didn’t take any photos for a while, as I knew I would be a little pressed for time and need some photo breaks later anyway. As I arrived in Hindustan, Indiana (I kid you not, that’s what it’s called), I just cracked up. Sarah and I were laughing about the name of the town this weekend — it’s just so ridiculous being in rural Indiana and stumbling across “Hindustan.” Even better, though, is this:

Hindustan Christian Church
Hindustan Christian Church. As in Hindustan, Indiana. Seriously.

Somewhere between Hindustan and the state forest, I went down a pretty big hill, and the road leveled out, but I was still going pretty fast. There was a group of probably 20+ cyclists going in the opposite direction, and I think I heard one of them say “Michael?” as I passed. I looked back to see who it could be, but my eyes were still watering from the decent, and I couldn’t really see very well. I think it was one of my coworkers. Also, around this time, the odometer on my bike computer passed 500 miles. That’s 500 miles on the road bike since probably the beginning of February (and I didn’t ride much until March). I feel pretty good about that.

I passed Bryant Creek Lake. Some people were fishing nearby. It’s a pretty small lake, but still cool.

Bryant Creek Lake
Bryant Creek Lake

I saw a guy picking up trash along the side of the road as I approached the state park entrance. He had been doing the same thing just a little ways down the road when Sarah and I drove by last weekend. In hindsight, I should have taken his picture.

State forest entrance

Riding through the state forest itself was fun, and there’s some beautiful scenery, but it wasn’t quite as exciting as I’d imagined. It’s pretty flat, although the road does curve quite a bit. Actually, it was a really nice ride, but the photos all turned out looking pretty similar to each other.

Main Forest Road
Riding along Main Forest Road

I decided to change my route slightly, passing the road where I had planned to turn, because I wanted to see if I could get some more water somewhere. I brought two water bottles, but I finished the first one and drank some of the second one, and I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t run out. I went to the state forest office, thinking they would have some water there. They had a small hose for water, but the water was turned off. I rode over to the nearby Cherry Lake and saw a sign that seemed to indicate water.

No Water
A cap on the pipe instead of a spigot.

I knew I would be OK, but I was a little irked no water was available. I assume that they’ll turn on the water at the office and put a spigot on this pipe at some point, but it would have been nice to have had more water. Lesson learned: bring more water, somehow. I only have two water bottle cages, so a third would have to go in my rack bag or something. I took a brief break at Cherry Lake, which I really enjoyed. I had it all to myself except for a couple on the other side of the lake who were sitting in lawn chairs and drinking beer. They may have been rednecks, but they sure had a good idea how to spend an evening.

Cherry Lake I
Cherry Lake

Bike at Cherry Lake
Obligatory bike shot, by Cherry Lake

I headed back to ride the second half of my planned route and got on Bean Blossom Road. I hadn’t been on this road before, and it was really cool as it followed the top of a ridge. It was mostly downhill and winding, making it a fun ride. It was also very smooth, as it had obviously been recently resurfaced (along with the rest of the roads in the state forest). I picked up a lot of speed, the only downside being that there were a lot of bugs. I had dead bugs stuck to my forearms and forehead by the time I got to the bottom of the hill.

Bean Blossom Road
Bean Blossom Road

From there, I took Anderson Road for a while. It was very pretty, and there were some people jogging in the opposite direction. I greeted them.

Anderson Road I
This shot doesn’t do it justice, but there was some really beautiful light on the trees on the small hill.

I turned onto Shilo Road, which I rode on for quite a while. In sharp contrast with the state forest roads, Shilo Road is very rough, with a lot of potholes, rough areas, cracks, etc. In one section, I had to ride all the way over on the left side of the wrong lane just to get around the rough spots. I tried to get a photo of that, but it didn’t turn out so well.

Shilo Road
Part of Shilo Road, not nearly as bad as some of the other sections, but it’s the best shot I have.

I didn’t take many photos after this, as it was getting a little too dark. Despite Shilo Road’s rough surface, it was still a fun ride. It has some decent hills, but mostly, it’s just very windy. I was looking for an easy way to get some water, but didn’t see one. I could have asked someone working in their yard for some water, but I figured I had just enough to get home (and I did). One driveway had a sign at the end of it that read, “Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.” Friendly, huh? I think they were kidding, but possibly not. I also had a dog chase me. This happens from time to time; Usually, it’s easy to get away. But this dog was much faster and more persistent than most — I had to ride as hard as I could, up a hill, and not until I hit 20 mph did he finally start falling further behind me.

Tunnel Road, which would take me back to State Road 45, came up sooner than I expected, and it was a welcome sight. It was getting darker every minute, and I was low on water. I rode the rest of the way home, through part of Unionville, then New Unionville, without incident. I got a bit tired, but after that much riding, it was pretty easy to just keep spinning.

It really was a great ride, and also the longest I’ve done on the road. I need to replace my saddle, as it really gets uncomfortable on rides of this length, but otherwise, my bicycle was fantastic. All told, I rode 35.5 miles, averaging 16.5 mph (not counting breaks). I’m looking forward to riding similar routes, and doing longer rides in the future.

3 Responses to “Morgan-Monroe State Forest”

  1. furiousball Says:

    Wow, I can’t believe how nice of shape that Main Forrest Road is in. Great scenery, nice long ride fo sho

  2. John Says:

    That looks like a really nice riding area.

    Myself, I have no desire to associate with people who put up crazy signs or bumper stickers on their cars. You did good to ride right past that “no tresspassing” shack.

    I see lots of unique names when I go to Maine. Lots of countries and major cities are represented by small towns and hamlets there.

    There will be lots of miles adding up now that the weather has finally broken.

  3. Jett Says:

    Looks like your miles are piling up nicely. You’ve found a nice set of roads to do this on.

    We used to joke about dog’s chasing us. There would be spin class, hill work, and dog escape training.

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