Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Muscatatuck – Jackson-Washington State Forest

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Last Thursday was the last day of my summer class. There’s a second summer session, but I’m not taking any more classes this summer. So I guess I’m on summer vacation! (Aside from work, of course.)

As you might imagine, I was anxious to get out for a good solid bike ride. Tim was game, so on Saturday we met at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Reserve near Seymour, IN, for a solid 56-mile ride. It was mostly paved, but some gravel and a bit of trail, as well. The odd thing about this route was that it was flat-to-rolling most of the time, except one big hill (knob) right around halfway through the ride. Here is a map of our route.

I woke up Saturday to a whole lot of thunder, and heavy rain. One good thing about riding with Tim is that I always know he’s up for riding in any conditions. There wasn’t any question about whether we would ride, just how wet we’d get.

We met at Muscatatuck around 9am, right on the tail end of some rain. The rain basically stopped as we were getting ready to ride. Our first few miles were gravel with some great wildlife — deer, herons, geese, bullfrogs.

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Then it was pavement for a while through gently-rolling farmland.

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Soon we started to get glimpses of the knobs, where we were headed. Specifically, we were going to Jackson-Washington State Forest, which contains several knobs and is part of the Knobstone Escarpment area in Indiana.

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The buggy sign below was hand-made. A nice touch.

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Before long we were in Brownstown, IN, a small town that Sarah and I have visited on a few different occasions. We stopped for water and restrooms.

Here’s Tim’s Litespeed, with a few upgrades since the last time I saw it. The bike is even better than before!

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And of course, here is my Long Haul Trucker.

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The sky grew increasingly ominous. Tim ran into someone he knew there (small world!) and an old man chatted us up. He seemed to be quite a character, but his countrified accent was so thick it was hard to understand what he was saying.

During all this time the clouds got darker and darker. It was clear we were going to get quite wet. We rolled out.

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Just a few minutes outside of town, Tim felt his rear tire going flat. We stopped, and he immediately started working on it. I took the opportunity to look around a bit.

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The rain finally started. It was coming down pretty hard.

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Here’s Tim, working on his tire in the rain. He fixed it rather efficiently but carefully. His work paid off; the fix held.

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We rolled out again, only to find our road closed.

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Of course, roads that are impassable by car are often easily navigated with a bicycle. We pressed on. Soon we saw why the road was closed. This photo stinks, but you can see the landslide debris on the road.

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We made our way over the debris and the climb up the knob started in earnest.

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Soon we saw where the landslide had started. An upper portion of the road had washed away.

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After a while, we made it to the top. We just took our time and spun up in a low gear. Almost immediately after we reached the top, we were treated to an excellent vista.

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We rode further down the road for a few more views.

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Then it was a long descent. It had more or less stopped raining at this point. The road down was so steep that Tim walked part of it. I rode it, but I did so very slowly.

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Once at the bottom, we continued on and it was back to being flat. We had a great tailwind for a while. Tim wasn’t feeling great, but the wind certainly helped us along.

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We could see numerous storm clouds, and as we rode along we were able to watch them grow and change. Very cool.

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This wheat field scene captured our attention.

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As did this very small church.

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We passed a couple of gravel roads that looked they’d be fun to explore, such as the one below, but we stuck to our route.

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Eventually, we hit gravel. A downhill, some turns, and some flat riding. The sky was different now but still quite stunning.

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Soon we were back near Muscatatuck; a short jaunt on a trail and some gravel roads took us back to our cars. My sandals were funny here, I could feel the wet grass on my toes as I pedaled.

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All in all it was a wonderful ride. The weather was spectacular, not in a picture-perfect kind of way, but it was impressive to watch the clouds and experience the rain. We somehow missed the big storms. The rain that we did encounter wasn’t bad at all.

Since this ride was mostly flat and mostly paved, it was a relatively easy 56 miles, except the few miles on the knob. Even so, I was getting pretty tired toward the end. It had been a while since I’d been on long bike ride. I feel I rode well, especially considering how little riding I’ve done lately.

I’ve got a lot of riding planned in July. I am looking forward to it!

16 Responses to “Muscatatuck – Jackson-Washington State Forest”

  1. David Crowell Says:

    I wish I could have joined you. I will be out again this summer, but I’ll be on the ‘bent.

  2. Apertome Says:

    We missed you — get well soon!

  3. Bill Lambert Says:

    I’ve missed your riding posts. So many cool photos I feel like I’m there also.

    That is a beautiful part of the state you rode through.

  4. Steve A Says:

    On summer vacation aside from work…

    Amazing how school changes our perspective. You deserve a nice ride after all that work!

  5. Jon Grinder Says:

    Awesome looking ride. I’m looking forward to rolling east, in a couple of weeks.

  6. Pondero Says:

    I sometimes forget the kinds of rewards that can be enjoyed if you know there’ll be a bit of a weather challenge and you go anyway. You guys are the mighty knob slayers. Awesome!

    I’m looking forward to seeing Dave out there with you again.

  7. Tim S Says:

    I sort of forgot but you’re right. The skies on that later gravel pic are pretty amazing. And I sort of wish I had a print of that one pic with me in the turn with the light filtering through the trees. It looks like something out of an epic west-coast climb instead of ‘lil old Indiana. Impressive. And I 2nd Michael and Pondero. Dave would’ve been an excellent ride companion. Get well soon!

  8. Chandra Says:

    Nice summary! It is great to see the El Trucker back in action, yo!
    Peace 🙂

  9. Chandra Says:

    Almost forgot — the name of the Park, Muscatatuck, for some odd reason, reminded me of (U of) Tuktoyaktuk LOL!

  10. Dave Says:

    Dudes? WTF?

    To wit: “The road down was so steep that Tim walked part of it.”

    Really? I’ve not known Tim to so easily surrender free momentum…
    🙂

  11. Tim Says:

    Agreed Dave. P$@&$&d out after stopping at awkward stop. It *was* steep!

  12. PaddyAnne Says:

    that’s a great looking ride. Sometimes when weird weather things happen on a ride you remember them better.

  13. greg Says:

    Nice route. I always enjoy seeing images of different terrain. Makes me think of all the endless bike possibilities.

  14. Fonk Says:

    That washed-out road looks awesome! And I’ll bet it had to have been nice to ride it with zero car traffic on it! Sometimes “bad” weather is the cyclist’s friend. 🙂

  15. Apertome Says:

    Fonk: yes, the washed-out road was a blast indeed — however, there was so little traffic the whole day that it hardly even made a difference, from that perspective.

  16. John Says:

    Hot fun in the summertime. It’s nice to be back doing long rides. And of course, reading about others’ rides.

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