Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Limestone Tour

Monday, September 24th, 2007

It was a hot weekend. I went mountain biking on Saturday and tested out the WTB Rocket V trial saddle the bike shop put on there for me. It was pretty good. I rode Hesitation Point, then the Aynes Loop backwards, and I was going to ride the North Tower Loop as well, but I was getting pretty tired and really hungry, so I went back down to the parking lot.

I picked up a copy of one of the Bloomington Bicycle Club‘s map books, and I’m glad I did. I have been riding a fair amount lately, but not writing much because I’ve done the same routes a lot and they’ve become routine. Now, I have around 50 new routes to try — and there’s another map book they put out that I don’t have yet. I looked through the book and chose to do the Limestone Tour, which goes by four limestone quarries on the southwest side of Bloomington.

To give you some background, one thing this part of Indiana is known for is limestone. In particular, Bedford, IN is known as “Limestone Capital of the World.” This ride didn’t take me to Bedford, but it did go a bit in that direction. The local limestone and cycling fanaticism were captured in the 1979 movie Breaking Away, which is set in Bloomington and has scenes of teenagers diving into and swimming in quarries, as well as hanging out on huge slabs of limestone and contemplating the meaning of life. I wouldn’t say the movie’s portrayal of Bloomington was particularly accurate, but there are some things it got right, including the pride so many here have in the area’s limestone. Heck, many of the monuments in Washington, DC were built out of Indiana Limestone.

While I am not really a part of the limestone culture, it’s impossible to avoid it completely, and I find it rather interesting anyways. So, this Limestone Tour appealed to me on a number of different levels. And while I’m not a huge Breaking Away fan, I do enjoy it, and rides that makes me think of that movie can be a lot of fun.

My ride got off to a bit of a rough start. I had trouble following the map/directions to get to Victor Pike. I knew a couple of ways to get there, but I wanted to see the route the directions suggested. It was pretty convoluted, but I eventually made my way to Victor Pike. Next time, I may go my own way instead, although this route went through an interesting area and right by the excellently-named That Rd.

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That Rd.

I rode on Victor Pike once before when I did the Hobbieville Ride back in July. It’s a hilly road with some great views from hilltops and some pretty difficult climbs.

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View from Victor Pike

After a little while, I came to Fluck Mill Road, which has the abandoned Fluck Cut Stone Company. I rode by it and checked out Fluck Mill Road, which is a narrow, curvy country road. There was a cool one-lane trip under a railroad bridge. I should check out Fluck Mill Road more in the future.

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Going under the bridge on Fluck Mill Road / The abandoned Fluck Cut Stone Company

I got back on Victor Pike and rode through some rolling hills, and then up a huge climb to the Victor-Oolitic Stone Company. I saw this quarry before and took some photos then (including a panoramic shot), so I didn’t take a lot this time. Across the street is BTI Crushed Stone Sales, with a fleet of trucks.

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Victor Oolitic sign and a cool limestone wall

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BTI Trucks

This area smelled like limestone, and there was a lot of limestone dust.

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Limestone dust

I rode on, and suddenly a big dog ran out from behind a house and started chasing me. I had a water bottle in my hand, and debated whether to try to spray him with it, swing it at him, or put it back in the cage and ride like hell to get away from him. I chose the latter and started riding really hard. But very quickly I could tell that he just wanted to chase me. He didn’t seem like he would run out in front of me or try to bite me, so I slowed down a little bit, and he quickly tired of chasing me. The neighbors witnessed all of this and told me I should “Get some pepper spray and spray that motherfucker!” I laughed my ass off as I rode away.

The route remained familiar and took me onto a couple more roads, but then took me into a different loop than I had done before. There was a huge climb up Breeden (I don’t know how this is pronounced, but I like to think it’s like breedin’). After that, there were a pretty good downhill run and some rolling hills.

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An abandoned house and an old tree

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An incredible manor in the area

The route got a little complicated, but I managed to follow it through some strange turns. The map was about as clear as I could expect, given the convoluted roads in this area. I didn’t have confidence in the turns I made, but I trusted the map, and I ended up in the right place. I found myself by the Van Buren Fire Department, Station No. 19, and was reminded of the controversy about the Indian Creek Fire Department and a trustee getting their funding cut and having this station cover the Indian Creek Township, even though the stations are far apart. It was interesting that this ride took me by both stations. I stopped and got some more water from the vending machine at the fire station.

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Van Buren Fire Dept. Station No. 19

I spent a very short distance on State Road 45 and felt like I was approaching civilization again (alas!), but that didn’t last long as I followed a road back to the middle of nowhere. It was a really beautiful, remote area with a winding road and some more rolling hills. It almost reminded me of my ride in the mountains in Franklin, NC, only without the actual mountains, of course.

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Silo and a bunch of cows

It had been a while since I had seen any of the quarries, and I had a ways to go to get to the next one, but it was a truly beautiful area and a fun road to ride on. Kurtz road was especially awesome. There was a big climb, but the payoff was absolutely incredible, with a descent that had me up to 41 mph — but I was just getting started. There was another climb, but it was smaller, and I was able to carry my momentum through it, and then the road went downhill again. I kept my speed up through 2-3 more hills. It was a great run and one of the best payoffs for a lot of climbing in recent memory.

I passed Pick-A-Chic Farms, which took me a bit by surprise. I didn’t really know where they were located, but went near there a lot as a kid, as we had family friends who lived in the area. I smiled at this blast from the past and continued riding.

Soon, I came to the Independent Limestone Company and took a few photos. I had already ridden by the coolest part of it before I started shooting. I’ll have to return sometime and take more photos. It was getting pretty dark anyway, so I wanted to keep moving.

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Independent Limestone Company

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Part of the quarry

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Panoramic shot of the quarry (view it large or original size)

I still had a ways to go, so I turned on my rear blinking light and my headlight. I passed the last quarry, the C&H Limestone Company, but all I could see from the road was a sign, and I didn’t get a photo. It was probably too dark anyway. I rode back into Bloomington and missed the turn the directions specified, instead going by work and taking my commute route home. I rode the last 20-30 minutes in the dark, but since I had both lights and was close to town by the time it started getting dark, I wasn’t worried. I could see fine and drivers were very courteous. I think they were a little unsure what was approaching when they saw one blinking headlight. I rode about 40 miles total, but they were some of the hardest-earned miles I’ve done. The hills on that side of town are brutal — I need to move some of my training rides to the other side of town.

3 Responses to “Limestone Tour”

  1. John Says:

    It is very obvious in your post how much you enjoyed writing about Fluck Cut Stone and Fluck Mill Road.
    The way you tied it in with Breedin and the mutha fuckin dog made everything flow. It’s like how a “carpet ties the whole room together”.

  2. Marty Says:

    Very well written – another great ride story that makes me feel like I was almost there (minus the aching calves). A can of pepper spray probably isn’t a bad idea – you never when the dog you run into might not be into just chasing you. Great illustrated tale…

  3. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » Limestone Tour Says:

    […] This weekend Chris and I did the “Limestone Tour” ride. I did this once last year and while it’s only a bit more than 40 miles, it’s a brutal ride. I tend to forget how many big hills there are out on the west side of town. They can be relentless at times. I gave some background on this route last time I rode it. […]

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