Reply To: Hoosier National Forest Ride

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Hey kids – just back Monday from 2 fine days of playing around on back roads, paved and unpaved, in southern Indiana. Six hearty (foolhardy?) TCDers headed down to travel routes provided by Dave Allgood originating from an Indiana dual sporter. Dave plus Greg Crago, Jeff Schneider, Kevin Dunham, Vince Cardinale and yours truly met up in Martinsville Friday evening. Saturday’s route traversed ~230 miles from Martinsville IN, about 27 mi SW of Indianapolis, down to Tell City IN on the Ohio River. Sunday’s return trip to Martinsville covered ~220 miles via different roads.

Rides were a hoot. Very pretty country down there in southern Indiana. The land is quite hilly, with back roads that twist and turn around the landscape through forests, valley floors, along rivers and through corn fields (man, they grow a LOT of corn in Indiana!). Road surfaces varied widely – we rode everything from smooth asphalt to gnarly gravel – sometimes on the same road, with surface varying constantly. Kept one on one’s toes!

The first part of Saturday’s ride took us right by the Hickory Ridge Lookout Tower in the Hoosier National Forest. Natcherly, we had to stop and be tourists:

Five of us climbed the gazillion steps to the top – nothing like a serious stair climb in 80+ degree heat with 90+ % humidity. One TCDer with a brain stayed down to watch this madness; observe Dave waving to the fools from the parking lot below as we climbed part way up the tower:

Once at the top the view was quite the thing. Not a particularly exciting photo, but it does capture the sense of what the view was like from the platform at top. Queue up the Who: “I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles…”:

And here is the obligatory shot of happy and proud TCDers, reveling in their achievement of ascending the summit of the tower. From left to right; Kevin, Jeff, Greg and Vince:

The remainder of the day found us wandering ever southward towards the mighty Ohio River, with the temperature and humidity relentlessly rising. Leave it to us to do this ride on what will probably turn out to be the hottest and most humid weekend of this otherwise coolish summer. But the ride continued to great fun on wonderful roads. Toward the end of the route we even got smacked with a dab of nasty off roadish stuff, including a slimy, rutted little uphill stretch and about 150 yards of deep, gooey, slippery mud. Both bits got the better of me, convincing me yet further that I have no interest in trying to prove to the world that a 550 pound loaded adventure motorcycle can be a dirt bike. Let others take on that challenge.

Here Greg provides Vince and my review of the mud bog section, having both of us managed to drop our bikes in the crap (Greg, of course, motored right through it – although, in fairness, Greg’s bike was sporting knobbies, and Tourances just weren’t quite up to the task):

We arrived at our overnight lodging in Tell City and unloaded the bikes just before a strong thunderstorm hit the area with gusty winds, torrential rain and a light show. Timing is everything. We ordered in pizza, and Jeff heroically went out for a beer run, bringing us back cold brews to go with our pizza just before the storm hit. Waytago Jeff!

Here’s my bruised, battered and very muddy GS after being abused by its only marginally competent rider at the end of Saturday’s travels:

Sunday morning found us up and at ’em a little bit earlier in an attempt to get some riding in before the weather got hot again. Vince had decided that he’d had quite enough of wrestling his R1150GS around, and opted to split off and slab back up to Martinsville and then back on home. The rest of us hit the road, wondering if we were going to have encounters with snotty, slimy clay, thoroughly wetted down from the previous night’s rains. Not so. Sunday’s ride was terrific, with a great mix of paved and unpaved roads that we motored down with, as JFK used to say, ‘great vigah’.

There was one hero section on the return route, and of course it needed to be checked out. I was told that it involved riding through a culvert running diagonally under a freeway interchange. Man, I just KNEW that I had no interest in doing any such thing, but was more than game to observe others having at it. So we took the short spur off our main route to see what there was to see. After crossing over the freeway we turned on to a short, overgrown two track that led us down into the woods to a little clearing. From there we found the path down to the stream where the culvert was located.

First, you exited the clearing by dropping through this little ditch and up the other side to an abrupt little rise:

You then proceeded about 20 yards along a slimy little single track through wet grass (note the mistiness in this photo – humidity was about 100% in here!):

If you made it through that, then you found this slimy little track that took you down to the stream where the culvert opening was located:

And finally, here you are at the stream and culvert opening. Hey, that sure looks like fun! Who’s gonna go ride through there?

Answer? Nobody. Not even the boldest of this group of TCDers opted to take this on. All considered this a somewhat shaky proposition, and for once discretion was the better part of valor. Here we see said TCDers celebrating their intelligence and good judgment before proceeding on without taking the Culvert Trip:

So the rest of Sunday found us blasting up the many tasty roads along the route back to Martinsville. The roads were terrific. We had no little nasty sections to contend with, and our concerns of slimy clay were unfounded. We rode like madmen over good asphalt, crumbly macadam, hard pack with loose gravel, pea stone, one inch deep gravel, and more, arriving back in Martinsville around 5 Sunday afternoon.

A great weekend of riding in a very scenic area. Kudos to Dave for once again being the spark plug to make this happen.