Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Popcorn and Hobbieville

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

On Sunday, I managed to get out for another longer ride. This time it was 50 miles of very hilly riding (3540 feet) west of town. I wanted to explore more of Popcorn Road, where I had ridden briefly before, and added a jaunt over to Hobbyville so I could lengthen the route. I ended up riding in three different counties: Monroe, Lawrence, and Greene.

The first several miles were highwayish, heading south of town on Old State Road 37. There were quite a few hills along the way, but I felt strong and the climbing didn’t seem too bad. The downhill sections were a blast. For a little while the road surface was scored for construction, and this made for a very rough ride. I saw a group of club riders ahead and nearly caught up with them (on the Trucker no less), but then I turned off onto Siebolt Quarry Road.

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Siebolt Quarry Road had some rolling hills on offer, with wide open fields on either side.  After the rolling hills came a longer climb and then a fast, wild descent.

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I made a friend along the way.

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I did not explore this gravel road, but I noted its presence. I am not sure that it goes anywhere, but it sure looks alluring, doesn’t it?

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The views were great, but only a hint of what was to come.

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After that I enjoyed some flat riding in a creek bottom.

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I stopped in the tiny town of Springville, which features a pretty little park and a blacksmith. Here I also found a convenience store; unfortunately it was closed on Sundays. I made use of their vending machine to top off my water bottles before pressing on.

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Next I found myself on Popcorn Road, which I figured would be the main attraction of the ride. I wasn’t disappointed, as the road turned sharply upward, and for a long time. However, the climbing paid off in excellent views, sometimes on both sides, from the ridge top.

My jaw dropped when I saw the scene in the next photo. Viewed large you can see the road goes straight ahead, then turns to the right and goes up, up, up. You can only see a small portion of the hill in the photo.

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Even from partway up, the views were not shabby.

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I came across Lowder Cemetery, which overlooked the valley. This was a great spot for a break and a snack, and some more photos.

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I enjoyed my break, but I was glad to be moving again. I thought the best was behind me, but the views didn’t let up. It’s interesting to note now, that later in the ride, I went through the valley you can see in these shots. I didn’t realize at the time that that was where I was headed.

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The route I had planned had an optional additional section of about 8 miles, and soon it was time to choose: the short way, or the long way? I opted for the long route. It would give me those extra miles, and, I thought, a chance to refill my water bottles.

So, I rode down from the ridge and turned onto Popcorn River Road, another wonderful, flat creek bottom.

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Then I spent a while on State Road 54. It’s a highway, but there was very little traffic. There were some climbs during this section that seemed to go on forever. It was a very long ride to Hobbieville, and for the most part not terribly pleasant. I don’t care for highway riding, when I can avoid it.

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When I got to Hobbieville, I instantly started getting bad vibes. I felt very uncomfortable here. I couldn’t find anywhere to get water … not even so much as a vending machine. But the real problem was, I got spooked. A few loose dogs chased me, and I was riding hard on a road that alternated paved and gravel. Buildings and vehicles were run down … and not in a quaint way, in more of a creepy way. The people who I saw outside did not look very welcoming. In hindsight I may have overreacted, but it was hard to shake the bad feeling I had. I wanted to get the hell out of Hobbieville, and fast.

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So, I rode on, as quickly as I could, with not a lot of water left. I turned and headed back to get back to the route I had detoured from. Not only were these extra miles unpleasant, but I was now running low on water. You win some, you lose some.

Fortunately Hobbieville was very small and easy to get away from. As I was looking for the road that would take me back over to Popcorn Road, I got a strange sense of deja vu. I turned onto a gravel road and stopped by a creek. I realized I had driven on this road before. Then I realized I had a HUGE climb on a rough gravel road ahead, and my heart sank. Sometimes it’s better not to know what’s in store … I normally love gravel, but this was just a cruel slog up a huge hill.

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After the hill, the pavement returned and soon I headed straight back down the other side of the hill. Now I was in another beautiful valley, the one seen from above earlier, and I enjoyed several miles of flat, bucolic bliss, as I watched the hills as I rode past, rather than fighting my way up them.

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Of course, I wasn’t done with the hills, but I did enjoy a bit of a break. From here, things get a little hazy in my memory. I climbed some rather large hills and ran out of water. I was looking and looking for a place to get more water. I was hoping not to have to go up to someone’s house and ask for help. I hate doing that. I tried a couple of wells and spigots I managed to find, but all were either locked or shut off. I did catch some more nice views along the way. Through all this, I felt surprisingly strong and was still riding well.

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Finally, I broke down and stopped at a house where a couple was outside doing yard work. They were the nicest people you’ll ever meet, they brought me water and asked if I needed anything else. I sat on the grass in the shade and talked to them about bikes for probably 20 minutes. They asked for some advice about how to use the gears on their bikes effectively, and I gave them a few pointers.

I tried to rehydrate as well as I could. I decided to move on, and my legs just felt like lead. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I started riding again. I had to stop and have a snack. That helped a little bit, but at this point I went into survival mode. I knew I could make it home, and thankfully it was mostly downhill the rest of the way, but my energy level never recovered, and the hills I did have to climb were tough going. The last 8-9 miles of my ride were really tough.

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Overall, I very much enjoyed this ride. However, I need to be more careful about making sure I can refill my water bottles along the way. Obviously, I need to check for convenience stores in advance. But I also might need to re-mount the 3rd water bottle cage on the Trucker, and/or start bringing my water filter with me again.

8 Responses to “Popcorn and Hobbieville”

  1. Steve A Says:

    Golly. It sounds like the foot is doing just fine!

  2. Jon Grinder Says:

    Looks like Spring in Indiana!

    I know what you mean about feeling uneasy in Hobieville. I’ve had similar feelings in small towns down south, and I just got the heck out before imy day turned into a 70s slasher flick.

    Overall, though, looks like a great ride.

  3. Apertome Says:

    Steve: Yeah, no problems with the foot at all!

    Jon: Indeed. It happens occasionally, most small towns around here are friendly … but not all.

  4. Alice Says:

    Sounds like an eventful ride! I enjoyed the photos. And it’s scary to find yourself in a not-so-safe area of town. I encountered that during a ride through a couple small towns in Ohio last summer. When some bystanders stopped what they were doing and looked at us like we were crazy, we figured it was probably not an area we wanted to risk getting stuck in if we had a flat tire, so we hauled ass out of there. Glad you found a nice couple to help you out with some water.

  5. Chandra Says:

    Michael,
    Looks like a great ride! Glad you found water after a crazy climb and all. It is no fun to run out of water. Last summer I rode on a 115 degree day, ran out of water and I thought I was gonna have a stroke. I would take a CamelBak or a 3rd water bottle for sure.
    Be safe out there!
    Peace 🙂

  6. tim Says:

    just looked at the profile on the ride. What a sawblade! Hope you kept it together better than I did on Sunday. I still had water but ran out of juice. This Sunday I’m going to carry an extra Nalgene in my pannier. It’s worth its weight, especially in the boondocks.

  7. jeff Says:

    Great pictures! Scary running out of water. I don’t really like to use it, but have you ever thought of a Camelbak for long rides?

  8. Apertome Says:

    Yeah, I do have a Camelbak, and I use it when I go mountain biking, but I really prefer not to have weight on my back. But, I might be able to carry the bladder with me in some useful way.

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