Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Williams Covered Bridge

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

On Sunday I decided it was time to do a nice long road shakedown ride on the Long Haul Trucker. I had tried riding it on a variety of terrain, but hadn’t done any long rides yet. Perhaps not ideal timing as I’m still getting the fit dialed in, but I decided not to worry about that and just ride. I chose to ride down to the Williams Covered Bridge, the longest covered bridge in Indiana. It’s located in, surprisingly enough, Williams, IN, which is west and a bit south of Bedford. I had a Bloomington Bicycle Club map of the route, which said it’s about 70 miles. I took both my digital camera and my old Yashica Lynx 5000 rangefinder camera, loaded with slide film for cross processing.

I started out riding through town, which was by far my least favorite part of the route, but it wasn’t bad. I started riding through some residential areas, soon passed a more industrial zone, and headed away from town on Old 37. It wasn’t long before things took on a much more rural feel.

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Lee Roofing Co.

I had never ridden on this section of Old 37 before; normally, I ride on Old 37 north of town. Now I was headed south and it was fairly similar. Not quite as scenic, though, and it had quite a few easy hills and a few tougher ones. Mostly, it was easy, pleasant riding, but nothing too exciting.

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Old 37

I spent over 10 miles on this road and while it was nice enough, frankly it was a little dull. I was getting a little antsy to reach some more remote roads. Even though Old 37 didn’t have much traffic, it didn’t have a lot of character, either.

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Stopping by a farm

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Passing the Starlite drive-in movie theater; entering Judah

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Getting passed by a dune buggy

After 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 most of the way down on the linked post). I was looking forward to seeing those views again, but I turned off this road before I got that far.

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Judah-Logan Road

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I was feeling rather “Sunkist” myself — it was a sunny day, so far with limited shade.


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“Caution: Horse Drawn Vehicles” / Tiny Shell station

I saw a few cool sights along Judah-Logan, but soon arrived at the turnoff to McFadden Ridge. I had never ridden on this road before, but it looked like it was going to be fun. I was on high ground with great views of the surrounding land. I stopped to rest and take a few photos.

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Log cabin at Judah-Logan and McFadden Ridge

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View from the intersection

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Down, down, down

I took off down McFadden Ridge Road and immediately appreciated the Long Haul Trucker’s stability. It just feels incredibly solid at speed. I hit a couple of potholes and while it was jarring, the bike didn’t flex noticeably where my road bike would have. The wider tires let me lean into the turns more than I’d previously dare, especially on rough surfaces. Descending on this bike is a real joy.

I stopped again to catch some shade for a few minutes. I stopped a lot more frequently during this ride than I normally do, in part because of the heat and in part because in order to shoot with my film camera, I had to stop.

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Barns

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My bicycle resting under a tree

I had a nice rest, but I wasn’t done descending yet. I turned onto Peerless Road and enjoyed more downhill riding, this road curvier than the last. It was a blast, and it felt so good to let the bike carry me for a while longer.

Once down the hill, the road straightened out and threw several good hills at me. It was tiring, but I knew I’d have to pay for those miles of incredible downhill riding, and it was well worth it.

I passed a couple of limestone quarries and soon reached Bedford, a town of about 13,000 people known as the “limestone capital of the world.” I took a wrong turn, but realized it fairly quickly. I stopped at a gas station to rest and get some food and drink.

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Riding through Bedford on N Street

I spent a little time on a 4-lane road in Bedford, but there wasn’t too much traffic, and nobody gave me any trouble. I had to cross State Road 37 for probably the 3rd time so far on this ride, and then got on State Road 450/Williams Road.

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State Road 450

The road was wide and had some cars for a little while but it soon narrowed, and traffic died down. This became a really fun road to ride on. There was a big climb, followed by a big descent, but then the road began undulating, horizontally and vertically. There were lots of curves and shorter climbs and descents, with some nice views of the land from the hilltops.

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Williams Road undulates into the distance

I reached Williams and didn’t take many photos on my way through town. I wish I had. There wasn’t much there, but it would’ve been nice to have more photos. Williams is the kind of town where if you blink, you miss it — even on a bike. I continued past Williams on 450 to go toward the covered bridge.

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Boarded up building in Williams

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Riding on Williams Rd

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Cross-processed Williams Road

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Williams Garage

As I crested the top of a hill, I could see the bridge in the distance. It was great to finally be approaching the main attraction of the ride.

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The covered bridge is visible in the distance

I got off my bike and checked out the bridge. Painting on the road advised me to walk my bike, but I didn’t. I’m not sure why someone recommended that, and even go as far as to paint warnings on the road, as I had no trouble riding my bicycle through the bridge.

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Reaching the bridge

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Inside the bridge

Once on the other side, I rested for a few minutes, had a snack and watched for a while. Quite a few vehicles went by, mostly motorcycles. No one stopped to admire the bridge, which was too bad because you really couldn’t see much from the road, or from inside the bridge. It creaked from time to time as the wind blew; a few boards rattled intermittently, but the bridge showed no sign of weakness.

I found a gravel road going off to the side, and was tempted to ride on it and explore, but I knew I’d still be putting in a lot more mileage without a random side trip. I walked down a bit though and found a path down to the river. I carefully made my way down the loose, rocky path to see if I could get a better glimpse of the bridge.

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My bicycle resting near the bridge

As I said, this is supposedly the longest covered bridge in Indiana that’s still open. According to this page (which also has some cool photos), the bridge was built in 1884, and spans 376 feet across a fork of the White River. It’s a very cool bridge, and I was surprised to only see one support right in the middle of it. Given that it’s been there for over 120 years, I’d say it’s strong enough.

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Williams Covered Bridge

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Williams Covered Bridge, cross-processed

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Gravel road near the bridge

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The White River

I normally don’t take long breaks like this on my rides, but I really enjoyed taking some time to further explore the area. It’s funny because one thing I like about cycling is that it gives you a much better chance to see the land than a car. However, sometimes I still feel the need to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes even a bicycle isn’t slow enough.

I headed back the way I came, back toward Williams. I had seen a convenience store/cafe on my way here that said they had pizza. That sounded sort of appetizing, but when I got there I felt a little skeptical of the pizza and just got some chips and water. Then I spotted some Coke in 8-ounce glass bottles and had to get one. Coke always tastes better out of glass bottles, and the small size was perfect, since I didn’t want to stay long and didn’t want to take it with me.

The cafe was air conditioned and had seating inside, but I sat outside on the patio so I could better enjoy the view. Sitting in the shade on this rather hot day with a cool breeze and a cold Coke was exactly what I needed at that moment. It was refreshing and I felt energized when I got back on the bike.

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Refreshment

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View from the patio

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A goose in a recreation area in Williams

After taking 450 back a little further, I had two miles of climbing toward Fayetteville. Then another 6 miles or so to Springville, also mostly uphill. Climbing on the Long Haul Trucker is a mixed bag. It’s heavy, which makes climbing harder, and generally I find out of the saddle uphill sprints don’t work out too well. But with its super low gears, I can just downshift and pedal, pedal, pedal until I reach the top of a hill. Ultimately, it’s an exercise in patience, but being able to really take my time and not push too hard, even when climbing, is very helpful, especially when it’s hot and I’m getting tired.

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The Olde Farm: Life Tabernacle Recreation Grounds

I took another break in Springville, after which I got to ride downhill a little bit, but then faced probably the biggest climb of the whole ride. Then, something strange happened: I had about 5 miles of flat riding, I believe this was on Harrodsburg Road. So far the hills had been relentless in this second leg of the ride, so I cherished this opportunity for a few miles of flat, easy riding.

The easy riding let me enjoy the scenery in this very beautiful area, and get a closer look at some of the wildflowers. None of my photos do them justice, but suffice it to say, the road was flanked on both sides with wildflowers during many parts of this ride.

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Farmland

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The Long Haul Trucker

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Wildflowers

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The road

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Solitary tree

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More road

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My shadow

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A great view

Soon, I was on Rockport Road and then Victor Pike, both somewhat familiar to me. I enjoyed a long, fast descent down Victor Pike. I had only ridden this hill in the opposite direction before, and it’s a hell of a climb. It was a pleasure to ride down it for a change. A few more miles and a few more hills and I was back to town.

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Victor Pike

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The last major climb

This ride took me a lot longer than I expected. I was thinking 6 hours, it took more like 7 1/2. My average moving speed was very slow, I’m sure, but I don’t know exactly since I haven’t put a computer on the Trucker yet. It was a great ride with lots of beautiful scenery, and it gave me a good chance to try my new bicycle on a longer ride. I still have some fit issues to deal with but overall it’s working out great. In total, I rode over 75 miles with about 3300 feet of climbing (it sure felt like more than that). This is about equivalent, climbing-wise, to each day of the Hilly Hundred, just with an extra 25 miles of riding thrown in, and without the SAG stops (which I could’ve used).

8 Responses to “Williams Covered Bridge”

  1. furiousball Says:

    these shots are amazing buddy

    note: no matter how many filters you apply, it’s still a pink water bottle

  2. Bob Says:

    Great photos of the ride. It reminds me I need to take more joy rides on my bike and not focus on commuting so much.

  3. Dan Says:

    I love this post! Your descriptive writing style makes me feel like I was along for the ride (without the sore leg muscles). Plus, the more you talk about the new bike, the more envious I get. I’m going to have to start saving up.

    The photos are always great, and the cross processing thing always gets me. Do you know ahead of time how the colors and contrast will turn out, or is it a bit of a crapshoot? Very cool.

  4. Apertome Says:

    All: Thanks for the kind words.

    Dan: the colors are a bit of a crapshoot. You can see that the first few xpro shots are mostly green, and after that they take on more of a reddish hue. That’s where I switched to a different type of film. It depends on the film, the processing, the colors in the scene, etc. Also I sometimes mess with the colors a bit in post processing.

    That said, cross-processed shots tend to have higher contrast and saturation than normal photos. You just don’t know what elements will pop out or how the colors will be affected.

    Shooting with the Yashica Lynx 5000 (a camera from the 60s) adds more uncertainty. The light meter is broken, so I have to guess on the exposure settings. Focusing can be difficult. And I’m pretty sure it has a couple of light leaks.

  5. Doug Says:

    I have to agree with your comments on the LHT. I’ve found the same to be true of mine. It inspires great confidence on downhills, something I would never have thought before buying it. It’s like riding a rail. However, it’s not a bike for out of the saddle jamming up hills. But that’s okay! I am still impressed with this bike. I think it will be with me for a long time.

  6. Mark Stosberg Says:

    I enjoyed the photos!

  7. Jon Grinder Says:

    I do miss the rolling terrain of the midwest, sometimes. Around here (Denver), you pretty much ride flat, or climb a mountain. There’s some nice stuff 30 or 40 miles south of here, but nothing like the backroads of mid-Ohio or Indiana right out the door.

  8. Marty Says:

    1) You still have drive-ins?
    2) Coke in the bottle IS better.
    3) Unfortunately, most of the terrain here is now urbanified, so there isn’t as much as I remember when I was a kid. But I also remember that thrill of riding within 10 miles of your house and still being surprised and excited about all of the cool things you would see. I miss that – whether it’s nostalgia or a more simplistic realization of wanting to be surprised, I’m not sure.

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