We left the sleepy railroad town and encountered mostly paved country rollers as we headed towards the north of N.Vernon. As we passed IN-3 onto E350N the land flattened out and we found Semlier Forest. To be honest, it wasn't too impressive, so we didn't stay long
|Semlier Forest. The Board briefly discussed a 1-mile self-guided hike, and no open road was available. We moved on.|
|Some weirdo playing beekaboo.|
|St. Mary's Catholic Church, nw of N.Vernon, IN. Est.1841|
|Farm fields greening up.|
Our pace at this point was very lively, inspired by a NE tailwind. Once I realized where the tailwind was coming from, I then realized that it would be our bane, our "challenge" for much of the 2nd half of the trip. It was fun, though, to up the ante a bit instead of moseying along as we are wont to do. We found our first gravel at N300E and the pace increased even more due to the straight tailwind. I was a bit bummed after this stretch because for whatever reason there was a nice chicane around a tree and I'm not sure why the road diverged left at this point. Anyway, I didn't take a pic of the chicane but should have. You can take a look at the link. I upped the pace some more in honor of Paris-Roubaix running the same day on the cobbles of northern France. If you look at the pic below, I think it's very reminiscent of images of that race, the old farm road running across a flat expanse of muddy farm fields, but with a bit of spring greenery following the path. Very similar, well, except that they have massive granite cobbled and we had relatively easy gravel.
|First gravel, N300E, a really nice straight shot north|
|Slightly blurry shot, but I like how or what the camera focuses on here, even though I'm not sure what it is. It captures the speed I guess.|
|Zoom in on this pic. The big cow in front of the old building is looking at us, wary from afar.|
We came into Zenas, one of those towns I'm not sure why it exists or existed. Perhaps there was a ferry across the river before the bridge was built. The pic below looks to me to be the old store, long shuttered. I'm sure they go to WallyWorld in N.Vernon now. We stopped and had a snack.
The climb out of Zenas (below) began the next leg of the journey. We left the flatness of the north with its tailwind and gravel and traveled south along the edge of the Muscutatuck River. Oddly we were somewhat equidistant from the river as we had been, but the southern areas were lumpier, scragglier and more forested, a different terrain, AND a headwind, one that would keep us company for 30 miles.
|E700N, a very rocky section of gravel, at least at the entrance.|
|More E700N- the composition improved and the terrain provided us some opportunities to improve our fitness.|
|Several different maps, including Garmin's MapSource, show this as being an extension of E700N. I beg to differ.|
|E700N moving south.|
|A ghost-shift and thrown chain needed attention|
|Old school? We couldn't read the little indicator stone on the facade.|
Soon after encountering the little school we found our first gps issue which took place at the crossroads of more gravel. I don't know that I can easily explain it, but in effect the gps had us continuing down the road in the pic below. This was a "town" or a "neighborhood", but more so it was a collection of ramshackle trailers, a grown-in trailer park, which I have to believe houses some of the most substantial meth production in all of IN. It was gritty, very gritty. The gps track had us going directly into the white house at the end of the lane, or maybe its garage. There was no obvious road so we chose to turn back and allow the gps to re-route us. In hindsight and in studying the maps, I think I just misread the gps because the "road" would have had to cross the river again, which was out of sight below "trailer town". Spooky, but not really. We rolled south and found Brush Creek FWA on our left. It was unimpressive and we moved on, into the wind.
|More "mixed terrain" at Brush Creek WA|
|As stated, the areas south of the river were more varied, in this case with some pine forest in addition to deciduous forest and farmland,...and 'trailer town".|
End of part 1