Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Tocsin Ramble

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Sarah and I spent a couple of days visiting her family up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. As I often do when we visit them, I brought a bicycle so I could do some exploring, and give her some good time with her family without me. I had intended to re-ride the route to Ossian that I rode last time. I still had the route in my GPS. However, once I was on the road, I ended up ditching most of the route and exploring without much of a plan. I thought perhaps I’d ramble around for a while, and possibly make a trip to the tiny town of Tocsin, which Sarah’s mom had mentioned at some point.

Here is the route I ended up riding.

It was a cool day, the high was actually around 30, I think, but with a strong wind out of the NNW, the windchills were about 10 degrees colder.

Initially, the roads were clear. I rode my Long Haul Trucker, with studded tires, since I knew I’d be hitting some gravel, and I wasn’t sure how snowy or icy it might be.

The clouds were amazing all day, mostly overcast but in patches, with an occasional break that let the sun shine through. Also, because of the wind, the cloud shapes were constantly evolving.


It wasn’t long before I hit gravel. There I had varying amounts of snow and ice. Some of it was clear, some had a layer of snow or ice on it. None had deep snow, so my traction was pretty good, for the most part.



The Fort Wayne area is very flat. It’s always a bit of an adjustment for me. Since I’m used to hills, sometimes the miles go by very quickly on flat ground. On the other hand, I’m not used to long, straight stretches of road, which require a long, sustained, consistent power output. I’m more used to grinding up hills and coasting down the other side. So, flat ground makes for good endurance training, and in some ways can actually be more challenging for me. During the first half or so of the ride, I mostly had a tailwind, so this made this deceptively easy.


After a while, I crossed I-469.


The scenery remained fairly constant: roads, snowy fields, barns, houses, and those crazy clouds.




The road surface changed frequently. Sometimes it would be paved for a while, or gravel for a while, or sometimes it alternated seemingly at random.



My GPS indicated I was near the Saint Mary River. I tried to follow the GPS over to where the river appeared to be. All I found was this small stream. Obviously, the main river is somewhere else.




The scenery really seems constant in my photos. When I was there, it didn’t feel as monotonous as the photos indicate.

I passed the rather interesting Prairie View Cemetery.


I thought this “air mail” sign was very funny.


After a while, I reached Tocsin. There were just a few buildings there.



I didn’t even see a sign as I rolled into town. I had to ride around to find this sign on one of the other roads.


I had been thinking that I’d stop in Ossian on my way back, but at this point it became clear that I didn’t have enough daylight for that stop, so I decided to skip it and just head back fairly directly.

Now I had to struggle into the wind for basically the last 15 miles of the ride. I put my head down and just rode. It was slow going, with that damn wind!


Another cemetery caught my eye, this time Elhanan Cemetery.


These three silos served as a good landmark that I was getting somewhat close.


The Trucker was the perfect bike for this ride. Good on pavement, good on icy gravel … just generally good at basically everything.


I stopped for a shot of my bike with the Christmas lights on, in front of this iconic caboose in Fort Wayne.


By the end of the day, I had ridden over 37 miles. This was further than I expected to go, but when you ditch your route and wing it, that happens. I had a lot of fun, despite the rather harsh wind.

I relish these rides. I appreciate that I get to ride, even when I’m out of town, and riding somewhere different is always fun, even if it’s not an exotic location. It’s interesting how different the terrain can be, even without going far from home.

10 Responses to “Tocsin Ramble”

  1. Chandra Says:

    Awesome! May I ask what brand of pants are those Khakis pictured? Thanks.
    Peace 🙂

  2. Apertome Says:

    Sure, they’re Rivendell MUSA pants. They’re very thin and I wore them over a pair of tights here for warmth. Not the best combination, as the pants rubbed the tights at the knee a bit, in an annoying way. The pants are great in general, though.

  3. Bill Lambert Says:

    Just think of the wind as a really big hill.

    Running through Tocsin is the former Erie-Lackawana rail bed. Back in 1984, the Indiana DNR was granted the deed to the rail bed from the Ohio state line to Merrillville. But several groups voiced severe opposition to the DNR which caved in to the pressure and dropped its plans to develop it as a rail-trail. It would have been sweet to have a 140 mile trail back in the mid-80’s, but it wasn’t meant to be.

    Next time you’re up this way, give me a call, I can show you some hills!

  4. Jeremy Says:

    As always, an enjoyable post and pictures!

  5. John Says:

    I still find it very groovy to ride in the winter, even at my age. It’s usually me and some kids on bikes around town. All the adult bikers are back in their SUV’s. Well most of them.

  6. John Romeo Alpha Says:

    I like the black and white photos. They enhance the bleakness.

  7. Chris Says:

    I’m with you on exploring the local area when visiting family. I like to take the bike everywhere I can, even business trips when possible. Even though I had a little snow riding experience over the Christmas holiday, it still doesn’t compare to your conditions. Thanks for the photos!

  8. Doohickie Says:

    I love the “grayness” of the pictures. Some beautiful photography.

  9. Jon Grinder Says:

    Thing is, out here in Colorado that small stream would be considered to be a river.

  10. wil Says:

    Awesome. Its great to just go and ride. Explore along the way. I got the IGH on my Bianchi and plan on getting out tomorrow to test it. Check me out later to see what I thought. I am hoping good things with this thing for our salty, sandy, wet long winters here in Vermont. Dirt roads, here I come!

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