Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Exploring some gravel roads in Hoosier National Forest

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

On Saturday, I went for a long ride into Hoosier National Forest. I had planned to ride a lot of gravel roads there. I ended up taking a different way home than I had planned and only rode about 14 miles of gravel. The ride was about 65 miles total. Here’s a map and elevation profile.


View Hoosier National Forest 09/12/2009 in a larger map

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My ride started with 14 miles of paved and chipseal roads, and only one large climb (though there were rolling hills most of the way). I had a nice tailwind and made good time. For this ride, I brought a small stuffed moose that my nephew gave me, as a sort of mascot/hood ornament, if you will. He didn’t have a name yet, but after the ride, I named him Norman after the small town of Norman, Indiana.

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After about an hour of riding, I reached Tower Ridge Road, a gravel road that goes through Hoosier National Forest. Along the way, it passes a horse camp and a few trails, and takes you to the Deam Wildnerness area, and to a fire tower. The scenery during this time was pretty, but really rather static. As you ride through the woods, all you can see is … well, trees. However, it is a nice ridgetop ride, with deep ravines on either side. It’s not extremely hilly, although there is some loose gravel in places that makes things challenging.

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I stopped at the fire tower for some lunch. After that, I had quite a bit more gravel ahead of me, but the riding got more varied. To my surprise, I had a descent of about two miles toward Maumee. From there, I took some more gravel roads, and the scenery also showed more variation, with some fields, creeks, and limestone bluffs mixed in with the forest.

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I turned onto a rather flat paved road and once I did, the riding got easier. I enjoyed the gravel roads, but it was fun to really get moving on the paved roads. I had great views of corn and soybean fields and the surrounding hills.

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After a while, I reached State Road 58 and turned west. By this time, I had decided that I was not going to ride gravel roads back; rather, I would take paved roads. This should shorten my ride, which was running rather long. However, I was getting hungry again and stopped at the 58 Cafe in Kurtz for a slice of blackberry pie. By this time, I had ridden a bit over 30 miles.

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The pie was pretty good. Not the best pie I’ve ever had, but it felt like such a luxury to eat pie during a ride.

I started riding again and after a few decent hills and one big one (nearly 300 feet of climbing), things got flat. During this time, I realized that the paved road went further out of the way than I realized. The gravel roads probably would have been a bit more direct. However, the riding would’ve been much harder. I think I made the right choice.

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After a while, I reached State Road 446, which would take me back to town. Unfortunately, I now had a headwind, and the chipseal was really slowing me down. After I rode a bit, a mileage sign reminded me just how far out I was. The sign said it was 18 miles to Bloomington. I had already gone nearly 50 miles, so this was a little disheartening. Effectively, the last 20 miles were a slog into the wind on chipseal with a couple of good climbs and many smaller ones. Pretty harsh.

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My trip home was broke up a bit when I came across a woman whose truck had broken down. She was just sitting in her truck and chain smoking. She seemed surprisingly calm about the whole thing. I offered her my cell phone so she could call for a ride, but there was no signal. So, I rode a few miles down the road and called someone for her. I believe they found her OK.

One last note, the traffic was pretty unpleasant coming back into town on 446. I really did not enjoy riding this way. It’s not as bad when riding away from town as the busiest part of the road is downhill, so it’s possible to mostly keep up with traffic. Not so, on the return trip.

Overall, a really fun ride, and it felt great to get some longer miles in, and explore some new areas.

6 Responses to “Exploring some gravel roads in Hoosier National Forest”

  1. Bill Lambert Says:

    Nice tour. Are you going to do the Hilly Hundred this year?

  2. Paul Says:

    Another great report with great photos. Thanks.

  3. Tim Says:

    Can I stay jealous? It’s good to see you back on 2 wheels regularly. At least somebody is getting some interesting miles in.

  4. Ray Says:

    “…great views of corn and soybean fields…” Well, I can tell you’re from the Midwest. Actually, we lived in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin — so I tend to look critically and appraisingly at corn and soybean fields, too.

  5. Chandra Says:

    Hi there,
    The photos are great. I especially liked the photos of the woods in B&W, Sepia. Oh, I have to commend you on the regular clothes while biking too! I do the same!!
    Peace 🙂
    -Chandra…

  6. Doug Says:

    Looks like a great ride. You really are good at putting together some nice mixed terrain rides.

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