Saturday, June 23. Aurora, IN to Madison, IN 51 miles of riding in 4:07 hrs of riding.
This was one of those days where nothing seemed to go right – except landing in a little place called Friendship. Got rolling around 8 AM from my stop yesterday. I wanted to get in a solid 60-80 miler, if I could reconnoiter the ADT (American Discovery Trail) directions and trail markers. Now I’m not only using the ADT trail directions, but I’m also using my own two sense – for what that’s worth – to get through IN, IL, and part of MO. So I got yesterday’s gaff fixed by pulling out the IN Gazetteer last night to confirm the directions. Proceeded west for a bit on Rt 56 and then got on some small township roads that were paved. Judy hung back in Aurora to walk on the town’s rail trail.
Now what I’ve found in just a day’s riding on the ADT is that it is: poorly marked! Period. The only time you’ll see a trail insignia, this little plastic rounded triangle thing with a icon of the map of the US on it, is at any change of roads. And that’s if you’re damn lucky. I’ve done enough of this trail today to see that even with your written directions, it’s still awfully hard to navigate. The BT was like grade A, Class 5 compared to this cross-country trail. I mean you get going like 2-3 miles down a road and pass 2-3 cross-roads and you’re thinking: “damn, did I go by the next turn, or am I ok?” I mean if you’re going on just written directions, and the township and county road signs are totally missing, just not there, then you’re SOL. Guaranteed that you’ll go by cross-roads that have no signs. And as I said, I’ve gone by jcn’s on the trail that do have road signs, but no trail insignias at the change of road. So it’s really hit and miss, and miss and miss when you come to a jcn that is not marked and has no signage. I ended up riding tentatively just hoping and looking and anticipating the next change of road.
I did a pretty good job of getting through the first 15 miles of riding, only because I was trying to keep the sun behind me and ride west, and then was pleasantly surprised when I got on a gravel road that was pretty primitive, where I had to do a 25 ft creek crossing through about a foot or so of water. Then I was back on pavement, at a Y jcn with no signage and no trail insignias. Had to flag down a driver and ask where the hell I was. I was luckily on the right road, and continued in a westerly direction. Did 2 pretty solid climbs out of these creek valleys. They were a good 15-20 min climbs of a gentle to moderate pitch where I could use the middle cookie in and out of the saddle.
Next up was a stint on IN-62, which is a moderately busy state route. This was part of the ADT route and would take me into a town called Friendship where Judy and I were to meet. Now things were going ok until I saw that the road was closed about 6 miles ahead. So when we started I’d given Judy the gazetteer and directions to get to Friendship, and Rt 62 was the road she’d use. I was feeling pretty good about me getting through it, but I knew that Judy would have to come up with an alternate route, likely one suggested with a series of detour signs. Hell, I could get through about any detour, barring like a bridge out with the major river or stream to ford. But I knew that Judy would be a bit late with more miles to cover.
Kept rolling and finally came to the detour, on this long descent down into the town of Friendship. What had happened was that the ground slumped on this steep section of road, and the road was washed out. It was a cakewalk to just dismount and walk across the slump and then remount and cruise down into Friendship. Got into this tiny little town and heard just this barrage of gunfire, like a massive shooting range thing going on. Turns out Friendship is like the muzzle loader capital of the US – hell of the world from what the locals told me. And there’s this shooting range there specifically for this type of gun. The world champs are held there in this little town of a hundred of so people.
So I rode through town to look for Jude. Takes like 2 min to ride from one Friendship sign on one end of town to the other Friendship sign on the other end. No Judy. I pulled up to the Post Office, next to a bench in the shade and just made myself at home sitting on the bench. 1, 2, 3, 4 and more people passed me by going into the PO and each and every one said hello. Nice little place. So a half hr went by, then an hr, then 1.5 hrs. That’s about the time I was starting to really worry rather than assume that she’s running late. I’d tried to contact her on my phone, but it was useless down there in that little creek valley. Asked a guy at the local garage if that was a place in town that had good reception. The dude told me I’d have to climb one of the 3 climbs out of town to get reception. So I just continued to wait. Two hrs went by and I was really beginning to get concerned. Got on the bike a couple of times just to do something and rode to both ends of town just expecting her to drive in. But no go each and every time. So back to the bench by the PO. Ok, got to nearly 3 hrs of waiting and I was pretty much beside myself. So I had seen two people sitting out on their porch on one side, and three people sitting out on their porch on the other side.
So I ambled over to the three people on the porch and asked them if they would flag Judy down if she came into town while I rode up a climb to see if I could get cell service. The one lady, Marge, offered me her landline phone to call. I took her up on it with glee. Got a hold of Judy and she was just kind of at whit’s end. She’d gotten all botched up with the detour, and then figured that I couldn’t get through and then re-drove the whole 25-mile detour a second time. So Marge’s husband Larry got on the phone and tried to guide Judy from where she was down into Friendship. That done the third person, Dotti offered me some of her homemade zucchini bread and some ice water. Marge took me into the kitchen and gave me some of Dotti’s bread and a big glass of ice water.
So we all just sat out on this big beautiful porch in the shade and waited for Judy. No luck. So a second call to Judy. But this time she had no service on her cell, so I left a message. And at the same Larry got in his car and drove out to find her. I mean this was turning into a recon mission: FIND JUDY! I hung back with Marge and Dotti while Larry drove around the hills and dales of SW IN looking for Judy. Finally, after 3.5 hrs after I’d pulled into Friendship Judy came rolling down Friendship road with Larry in the lead. Have to say that being 3 and a half hrs behind for the day was a far sight better than all the worst case scenarios that had gone through my head earlier.
Judy joined us on the porch with some of Dotti’s zucchini bread. I stayed on another 20 min and then took off for the town of Madison. Judy stayed on for about 40 min and talked with Marge, Larry and Dotti. My next 30 miles was on the long and winding Rt 62. I decided to make the best for the day and try to get in as much as possible due to the long delay, so instead of going back to some of the ADT backroads, I just stayed on 62 all the way into Madison. Did 3 more long, low grade climbs out of creek valleys through some great terrain and scenery. Met Judy in Madison and then we decide to just bag it for the day. She was very tired and frustrated having driven all bloody day long in circles, and I was just of the mindset where I wanted to bag it and call it just one of those days. We drove a few miles to the west to Cliffty Falls SP – where it was just totally filled for the night on the electric sites. So got out the phone and looked for a cheap motel or another campground. Found the perfect fit – a 35 dollar motel that wasn’t a Roach Coach joint. Sometimes it’s just this: it is what it is. And we’ll reset and try for a good day tomorrow.
Want to give out a very special thanks to Dotti, Marge and Larry. You guys personify the town of Friendship. Thanks so much. And Dotti, a special thanks to you for that loaf of zucchini bread that you sent along with Judy. All the best you the three of you………Judy and Pete