Best Rides 2016: Cardinal Greenway (Indiana) – March 19

The Cardinal Greenway is a 50+ mile paved rail trail that spans east central Indiana from Richmond to Marion.  It’s the longest rail trail in the state and a ride I’d wanted to take since getting back on the bike in 2013.  I was running out of time since our move to Utah was imminent, and so even though it was March and the forecast was bleak I loaded the bike onto the back of the car and headed east.

Some days are long days.

Some days are long days.

Yeah, there was a drive involved.  I’m not a big fan of driving to a bike ride.   I think it defeats the purpose.  It’s bad karma, too.  My bike is transportation, after all. But this was a special set of circumstances so I compromised.   Rather than starting at one end or the other, I started in the middle near a place called Jacksonburg.  It was the nearest spot on the trail to my home, so it meant less driving.  It also gave me the opportunity to do a 66 mile round trip and then decide if I wanted to tack on the other 35 for a full century.

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Jacksonburg trailhead at sun up. As is often the case, I had it all to myself.

Heading northwest to Gaston.

Heading northwest to Gaston.

Entering Muncie.  This old industrial city was slightly dystopian.

Entering Muncie.   No offense intended, but this city just makes me sad.  

On the way back to Jacksonburg.

On the way back to Jacksonburg.

As the pictures suggest, it was sort of cold.  I think it hovered around 32 the whole way, so I was bundled up pretty good.  I didn’t mind.  My only concern riding long distances in weather like this is the possibility of flat tires.  It’s no fun changing flats when your fingers are numb.  Fortunately, I didn’t have the pleasure…

The miles went by quickly.  The countryside in this part of Indiana is quiet and empty in early March.  I don’t know what it is about land lying fallow but I like it.  I like it a lot.  I had the trail to myself.  I may have seen one bicyclist all day.

Entering Richmond.   I was soaking wet and cold by this point.  18 miles to go.

Entering Richmond. I was soaking wet and cold by this point. 18 miles to go.

Above Richmond.  This viaduct was totally unexpected and the highlight of the trip.

Above Richmond. This trestle was totally unexpected and the highlight of the trip.

The ride passed through Muncie, a bleak post-industrial city that has seen better days.  I turned around at a place called Gaston though I could have continued towards Marion on the back roads.  I wanted to see Richmond, so I headed back and eventually made it there as well.

By the time I got back to the car, I’d logged 102 miles.  I don’t ride many centuries, so I tend to enjoy them when they happen.  I especially like doing them alone.  Makes me feel like a cowboy out on the range.  Gives me a chance to hear myself think. That’s never a bad thing…even in the Midwest in March with the sky spitting snow.

 

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