Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Dr. T’s Funky 50; cracked rim

Monday, October 8th, 2007

I had quite a ride yesterday as I decided to do “Dr T’s Funky 50” from one of the Bloomington Bicycle Club map books. I had ridden in that area a bit before when I did the shorter Ride around Lake Monroe but this ride took me further south and took a different route back into town.

The ride started by going over to Indiana Highway 446, a two-lane highway which for a while has speed limits of 55 mph. I rode on Sunday morning this time instead of a Saturday afternoon so there was less traffic. The parts of the road with fast speed limits also have wide shoulders, so I had no problems with cars. I don’t usually ride on the shoulder but I made an exception in this case for part of the way and I felt pretty comfortable doing so. There was some debris to watch out for, but it wasn’t bad.

There was a stiff headwind that kept my head and my speed down. The first part of 446 has some rolling hills which didn’t give me too much trouble, and the road was mostly straight. There wasn’t much protection from the wind, but I did pretty well anyway. After a while the shoulder disappeared and the road began to wind, the speed limit decreasing at the same time. That was the section of road where I had some trouble with drivers before since they couldn’t pass me. I was concerned based on that experience, but I had no problems this time around.

The scenery improved, with some good hills and some parts of road carved into the limestone.  I passed by the entrance to the Paynetown State Recreation Area and the “Fishin’ Shedd,” a convenience store/gas station. The road wound around some more and went downhill through more limestone and down to the causeway. I love riding across lakes in this way and I had a particularly leisurely trip across the lake as there were no cars behind me.

Riding across Lake Monroe
Riding across Lake Monroe

View from the causeway
View on one side of the causeway

As cyclists know, if you ride down toward a body of water, you’re going to have to climb up the other side unless you follow the water instead. I climbed a formidable hill after I crossed the lake. It was fairly steep for a while but eventually became more gradual. It’s about a 1.25-mile climb and is pretty tiring, especially with my rack trunk bag on my bike with a bunch of stuff in it weighing me down.

After the causeway and the climb, 446 twisted around a bit more.

Streaks of light
Rays of light on 446

But then it got flat and mostly straight for several miles. It was easy riding but not as exciting as the hillier, curvier parts. It did allow me to cover a lot of ground pretty quickly though and it’s beautiful country, with a lot of farms and more road carved through limestone in places.

Rabbits 4 sale
Rabbits 4 Sale sign that Sarah and I have driven past countless times but never photographed

Straight, flat, easy riding
Straight, flat, easy

I noticed that a building that Sarah and I had photographed previously is now gone, all that was left was a pile of rubble. We had driven by it a few times and each time a couple more walls would disappear. Now, it’s just gone. I went across a bridge by a creek and a pond and was struck by a field with many hay bales. A man was searching for geodes in the creek.

Hay bales and a creek
Hay bales in a field near a pond and a creek

Eventually it got hillier again, and it was heating up. The forecast said it would be 92 degrees and that we might break high temperature record. I heard a little noise in the lowest gear of my cassette but figured it was just my derailleur needing some adjustment. I ignored it. I rode through more cut-out limestone sections and stopped at one to take a break and take a couple of photos.

Bike and limestone
My bike against a limestone wall

Road carved through limestone
Road carved through limestone
I went a few more miles on 446 and was really glad to turn off of it. It really was dull and there was no shade. I turned onto Gil Gal Road which followed a long line of trees for a few minutes, providing much-appreciated shade. I went into a great flowing descent, flying down a flat stretch of road before going into some curves that were tight enough to be fun, but just wide enough that I didn’t have to touch the brakes. I hit 43 mph on my way down the hill. It was an exhilarating ride and getting moving so fast cooled me considerably.

I flew by a church, the Gilgal Primitive Baptist Church, a very small church with a cemetery. Small churches with cemeteries turned out to be a theme of the ride for me, as I passed many of them.

Gilgal Primitive Baptist Church Gilgal Church Cemetery
Gilgal Primitive Baptist Church / The Gilgal Cemetery

As I rode through this valley I was struck with how hard the drought hit here. It seemed counterintuitive to me that the low-lying areas got hit the worst — you’d think that they’d get some runoff and so end up with more water than the ridges, but obviously my logic missed something. The low-lying areas looked dead.

Dead field
The effects of the drought

I made a detour to Heltonville to hopefully find some water and maybe a snack. I had some Balance bars but they didn’t sound appealing at all. According to the map, Bonehead’s Heltonville Store was only about a mile off course. I cruised past a somewhat decrepit-looking park and baseball diamond and into town, passing another church. This one was bigger, being in town, but Heltonville is a very small town. I also passed a tiny post office that I found amusing. I couldn’t find Bonehead’s store and tried a different route. I found what I believe was Bonehead’s, but there was no sign stating the name of the establishment.

Bonehead's Heltonville Store
Bonehead’s Heltonville Store (I think)

I walked in and saw some bananas which looked good, but I would have had to buy a whole bunch. There were some Granny Smith apples in a refrigerator and that looked delicious, so I bought one. I also bought some water and gatorade to replenish my fluid supply.  I put the apple in my bag and filled my water bottles so I could go eat somewhere more scenic. I also felt out of place in my cycling clothing at this small town gas station, and it was fairly crowded as I believe church had just let out.

I headed back to the park and saw that it had a shelter, so I stopped to rest and eat and rehydrate a bit. The apple I had gotten wasn’t the best apple I’ve tasted but it sure beat energy bars and Nutter Butters. It was also great to find some shade. I watched some kids play on the playground and enjoyed my snack.

Pleasant Run Park playground
Pleasant Run Park playground

I started riding again and saw a lot more dead plants. It’s really sad to see so many crops dead and gone to waste.

Cornfields Forever
Cornfield and an incredible sky

I crossed Dunn Bridge, which goes over a creek. I had to dodge some cornstalks that were laying in the road.

Dunn Bridge
Dunn Bridge

I passed a small cemetery that appeared to simply be a family cemetery with no church in sight. There was a strange combination of old, run-down houses and gorgeous new ones. Run-down barn
Decaying barn

Goldenrod, barn, blue sky
Goldenrod, old barn, blue skies

This area had a lot of rolling hills and I kept hearing more noise by my rear derailleur when in my lowest gear. I started wondering what was up but kept riding. I passed the Bartlettsville Christian Church, with another cemetery. Some people were visiting sites at this cemetery, unlike the others.

I continued riding and passed Mama Jean’s Restaurant. It claimed to be open all day or something like that, but I couldn’t tell if it was open at all.

Mama Jean's
Is that a grave by the stop sign?

Mama Jean's
Great benches on the porch … junkyard alongside the building

I have been meaning to take a photo of my bicycle leaning up against a row of corn. I don’t know why, I just got the idea in my head. I guess I wanted something showing my bicycle in the context of something that’s ubiquitous locally, which is also why I took the photo by the limestone above. I meant to do it by green corn, but I guess I missed my chance — maybe next year. Still, I think this shot turned out pretty cool.

Bicycle, corn
My bicycle by some corn

I had a huge hill to climb and heard more sounds from my gears. I also felt a bump each time my wheel went around. I stopped to check it out, thinking it must be a loose reflector or something. What I found was pretty upsetting.

Cracked Rim

Cracked Rim II
Cracked rim

I had cracked my rim somehow. I had no idea how this happened. I didn’t remember hitting any big bumps or potholes. Maybe I just wore it out or something … I’m really not sure. I took a few minutes to rest and decide what to do. It was really getting hot now. I could still ride, it seemed, but I had to avoid the lowest gears of my cassette. I decided to try to ride home but called a couple of people first to let them know what was going on, where I was, where I was headed, and that I might need a ride if it got worse. I was only 25 miles into my ride, which was supposed to be 50 miles but I knew would be a bit more due to my detour into Heltonville.

This problem with my wheel put a real damper on my ride pretty quickly. The heat was also starting to get to me and I started riding very sluggishly. I had some fun downhill sections but then had a huge climb to contend with and stopped partway up to take advantage of some shade. I called Sarah, afraid I might have missed a turn. She looked up some things online for me and as far as we could tell, I was on the right road. Once I started pedaling again, I quickly confirmed that I was going the right way. I passed some more pretty areas but didn’t feel much like taking photos anymore. The problem got worse as my wheel went more and more out of true, eventually rubbing my rear brake pads as I rode, slowing me down considerably.

Judah-Logan Road Panorama
Judah-Logan Road Panorama

Before long, I reached Old Highway 37 and felt a bit relieved. I hadn’t ridden this section of it, but I felt it would be easier riding, and it was. However, there was absolutely no shade to be found. I rode for quite a while on Old 37, and was a bit like 446 in this section — wide and boring. Eventually, I made it back to Bloomington. I winged it on my way home and took kind of a stupid route through town, but I made it home. It felt like the last 15 miles of my ride were completely uphill, and even some small residential hills gave me trouble.

I enjoyed my ride, but the second half or so of it was very tough given the heat and the state of my bicycle and the brutal hills.  I think I liked the Ride Around Lake Monroe a bit better since it went through Coveyville, a small town I really like, and it was a bit more scenic. It also spent less time on 446 and none on Old 37 and skipped some more the more boring parts of the ride. However, I do like the additional distance that this ride gave me.

I went into the shop where I bought my bike on lunch today and the wheel is under warranty. They’re letting me upgrade with a credit for the value of the wheel instead of getting another wheel like the one I already broke.  If I like it, I’ll upgrade the front wheel too. I feel the wheels on my bicycle are among its weakest components.

8 Responses to “Dr. T’s Funky 50; cracked rim”

  1. Dan Says:

    Sorry about the wheel trouble. Other than that, it sounds like a nice ride. I’ll be down in Nashville, not too far from Bloomington, on Thanksgiving weekend, and I’d love to hear any route suggestions in the 30 mile range. I’ll be staying south of 46 on SR135 at a horse ranch. Hopefully, the weather will be as nice as last year.

  2. Revrunner Says:

    Bummer! I’ve never had a cracked rim. But I guess if you ride long enough and far enough, it’s bound to happen. Upgrades are nice!

  3. Christy Says:

    Alright, that’s it. I am convinced you have more than 24 hours in your day and I want to know how you did it!

  4. Apertome Says:

    Revrunner: It’s only a 9-month-old wheel with about 2200 miles on it. It should last longer than that!

    Christy: I have been lobbying for this for years (personally, I believe each day should have 36 hours) and I have had no luck so far. I’ll let you know if that changes. Write your Congressmen!

  5. Noah Says:

    Okay, I’ll stop complaining about broken spokes now. Ye gods.

  6. Marty Says:

    I really love reading your travel entries … your pictures add a ton to them and makes it feel like a Travel Channel special, without those annoying commercials for “Doan’s pads” and stuff. Keep up the good work – and sorry about your rim. I’ve never heard anything like that before.

  7. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » The Nashville Ninety Says:

    […] rode down State Road 446 as I had done a few weeks ago when I cracked my rim riding Dr. T’s Funky Fifty. I went a little further this time to where it intersects with State Road 58. I didn’t take […]

  8. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » Williams Covered Bridge Says:

    […] riding on Old 37 for so long, I was glad when I finally got on Judah-Logan Road. I have ridden on this road before, but in the opposite direction. I remembered climbing a big hill, and some panoramic views (see […]

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