Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Riding in Fort Wayne

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Sarah and I went to Fort Wayne this weekend. Naturally, I took my bike, and I had read about a club ride with the Three Rivers Velo Sport club. So on Saturday, I dropped Sarah off at her mom’s house and headed to Homestead High School to meet up with the group. Unfortunately I arrived a few minutes late and I felt really bad about that, but they were cool about it and waited for me to get ready.

Aside from my road ride on my mountain bike in Franklin, North Carolina, I realized I haven’t done any major road rides anywhere other than the Bloomington area. I knew this would be very different, since northern Indiana is very flat, whereas we have a lot of hills in my area. I was looking forward to riding somewhere new, and I figured a club ride would be a great way to see some of the area without having to worry too much about the fact that I didn’t know my way around at all.

We started riding and there were a few hills intially, but they were easy. I struck up a conversation with Steve, who was wearing a Hilly Hundred jersey. We talked about the Hilly a bit, and then I drifted toward the back of the group to take some photos.

Flat farm country

Following the group through the countryside
Farm with a pond — notice the flag is blown straight out
While things flattened out and there were very few hills after this initial section, the wind was strong gusting from probably 15 to 25 mph — and we had headwinds or crosswinds for the first 30 miles or so. I’m not used to riding in wind and I was hanging back for a while to take photos anyway (I have to slow down a bit to do so and sometimes swerve a little bit … not acceptable unless you’re at the back of the group) so I enjoyed drafting for a while.

We passed a lot of farms, many with cool old run-down barns. It was a perfect day — sunny, clear, cool. The leaves are finally changing so the golden red and brown leaves against the deep blue sky were quite beautiful. On this flat land you can see for miles and I really enjoyed the scenery. Topographically, it’s different from what I’m used to, but the corn and farms and barns are very familiar. I was reminded for the thousandth time how much better it is to see a place by bicycle. I’ve driven through this area before and it wasn’t nearly as appealing from that vantage point.

We rode by some large farm machinery that was being used to harvest(?) corn and we were pelted with shredded bits of cornstalks as we rode by. I saw some corn cobs laying on the road. We also passed a few horse-drawn carriages at times, but I didn’t manage to get a photo of those.

Corn harvesting machine … notice the particles flying through the air.

A great barn and silo

Huge old tree

I decided that I had drafted long enough and worked my way forward to take a turn pulling. I am not too used to riding in groups, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. In fact, this was a double paceline and I was pretty unsure of myself. Another rider gave me some pointers that were really helpful — basically, ride by the center line if the wind is coming from the left, or at the right edge of the road if the wind is coming from the right. Someone took the lead in the other line and pulled for a minute but then announced he had just “blown his wad” and fell back to let someone else pull. Another rider pulled forward and neither of us was too sure of what we were doing, but we got in the swing of things. I pulled for a good five miles solid before falling back and felt good about that. Someone later complimented me about it. Next time, I’ll feel a bit more confident.

Lots of hay bales in a field

We passed through or near Columbia City and South Whitley, both pretty small towns. I enjoyed passing through Columbia City, as it has a quaint square downtown typical of small towns in this area.

Columbia City

Downtown Columbia City

A few of us stopped for a break in Columbia City (or South Whitley … my memory is a little hazy), while a few others rode on. I learned that to follow the 62-mile route I should have turned off quite a while back and that I was on the 48-mile route instead. This was fine with me.

Shortly after passing through there, we got on County Road 800 and finally had a tailwind. At this point, we were treated to about 10 miles of flat, straight road with the wind at our backs. We sustained speeds of 25-30 mph during that whole time. This was so utterly different from the riding I’m used to; with the hills and curvy roads, there is no place you can sustain this kind of speed in the Bloomington area. I’m also not used to such sustained, constant power output. It was great endurance exercise and was more tiring than I would have thought. It’s interesting riding this way because it feels completely different from twistier roads … it becomes more repetitive and I really lost myself in the spinning of my crank. My pedals fell and rose almost automatically and I felt like a passenger on my own bicycle, my mind wandering for a few moments before returning to the task at hand. It was a little too easy to hunker down and pedal without even paying attention to the landscape — I am sure that I missed some scenery in this manner.


Straight, flat land with a tailwind
During this stretch, the group became more fractured until it was just Steve and myself riding on this road. We talked some more about the Hilly and about the different terrain in northern/southern Indiana.

Power lines across a field

Steve complimented me on riding well and then proceeded to show me a thing or two, speeding up and leaving me in the dust. He really ate up this long flat section of road while I was praying for a hill to allow me to change my cadence and mayb even coast for a minute, but it was not to be. By the time I did reach a hill, I was tired from 10 miles of constant pedaling and slowed significantly. I managed to keep Steve in sight, but just barely.

When we got back to the high school a few others were there. I think a few had finished faster and a few had taken a shorter route. I hung out with Steve, “Kmart” Dave and a couple other whose names I can’t remember (sorry guys!) and talked about the ride, the Hilly Hundred and other rides we’d done lately. It was great to meet the guys from this cycling club and they invited me back any time I’m in Fort Wayne. I’ll certainly take them up on their offer.

9 Responses to “Riding in Fort Wayne”

  1. Fritz Says:

    The landscape in Ft Wayne looks amazingly like the photos from Guitar Ted’s bike commute 500 miles away in Iowa. Which looks eerily similar to the bike commute I had for eight years when I lived in downstate Illinois.

  2. Dan Says:

    Great photos! I was in the Fort myself on Sunday, and I can confirm the windy conditions.

    That terrain is much like the Lafayette area, so I’m a little worried about my performance on the hills of Monroe County next month. My last rides in both Nashville and Jasper were low MPH affairs as I tackled the hills.

  3. John Says:

    I’m thinking that this ride was quite a bit of work. I prefer rides with a few different groups and usually end up in the AARP coasters as opposed to the double paceline hammerheads.

  4. Steve o7o Says:

    Hi Michael:

    I really enjoyed reading about your ride with us in Fort Wayne and viewing your wonderful photos. I am the Steve wearing the green Hilly jersey.

    Our club tour rides will end for the season after the first weekend in November. I did not ride with the club today (Saturday) as it was raining. I am sure some of the die-hard riders like K-Mart Dave did it. Thanks for the 10-mile attack east on County Road 800, it got me pumped hanging with you.

    I am sure if we were in the hills of Bloomington I would not have been able to keep up with you. I really enjoy riding the hills, even though I don’t have the opportunity often.

  5. A better vantage point « Says:

    […] For more of Michael’s description, and to see the photos from his ride, please visit his blog: Apertome – Ear to the Breeze. […]

  6. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » Almost springy Says:

    […] ride somewhere, either with on my own or with the Three Rivers Cycling Club, with whom I’ve ridden before. I’m itching for some longer […]

  7. Steve Says:

    Fort Wayne has an attractive series of paved, shady bike paths and trails called The Rivergreenway that many people never see. They follow the banks of 3 rivers. Spending time there makes you feel like your at a state park instead of within the city limits of the 2nd largest city in Indiana. A website showcasing some of the trails and nearby scenery can be seen at this website:


  8. Steve Says:

    Can’t believe I didn’t edit my writing in that message above before I clicked to submit the comment. Can you replace “at this website” with the word “here?”


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