We in started in Muscutatuck NWR, the place we visited in March. Instead of looping around that area, though, we came up with a route that headed west towards Jackson-Washington IN Forest, an area the Apertome's had visited previously.
|There's a heron between those trees. Promise.|
|Love this church setting. Couldn't find the name on googlemaps.|
|Homemade Amish sign|
We had a stop-over in Brownstown, where we availed ourselves of the Mickey D's for water and a restroom. I had an odd interaction wherein I saw a lady looking at me (woo woo!). Later a man came outside and he stated that he had ridden up from Louisville. Then I stated that he looked familiar, yada yada. The woman said something about my "Bono glasses". Long short, they were/are a family whose son played soccer two years ago with my son, *and* they had moved to Utah but were in the 'Ville visiting. What are the odds of that all coming together? The skies grew ominous in Brownstown.
After our departure from Brownstown we had our "comes in threes" moment. I felt my rear tire going soft and stopped to change it. As I was changing it, the ominious skies dumped a brief shower on us. And then .5m up the road we found our road "closed" with a sign blocking it. But undeterred, we jumped the gate and started climbing to see what we would find. The climb up was marvelous!
The next several miles would prove the most satisfying of our day. The northern swatch of Jackson-Washington SF provide ambiance, climbing, vistas, rain, flow, green, and all-round excellence.
|Bad pic, but left in for narrative purposes.|
Departing J-W SF I was glad we had chosen Michael's route over my flatter one. Interestingly, the descent out of the forest was the first time I had ever walked a climb *downhill*; that was some steep stuff!
After the forest the route flattened out and proceeded straight as an arrow down E.CR400S. Somewhere in this area I began to feel sort of crummy. My stomach was swishy and I had some concerns about the heart rhythm. I informed Michael that I needed to slow a bit and ride it out. To our east and SE we watched a thunderstorm that had missed us to the north and we went, straight.
|Photo can't do this justice. The browns of the wheat, the greys of the clouds and four shades of green from the fields and trees.|
Along CR400 at one point the road flattened out even more and "descended" into this bizarre flood plain where the asphalt was heaved up, we assumed, from flood damage. Map study showed that this was part of the flood plain of the North Vernon Fork of the Muscatatuck R., the same one that created the NWR. The extensive Spring rains made the fields in this area almost useless. Of note, as well, were two different gravel roads going south, CR800E and 900E. Under almost any other circumstances I would have enjoyed an exploration, but I still didn't feel particularly good.
At some point our directions had us diving down a brief descent where we found more gravel. The road name could have been S.CR1125E, E.CR25S or S.CR1075E. Who's to know? But the gravel, while a bit rough here, seemed to wake me up a bit. We were passed by a nasty beat-up car, which we watched into the distance while it made mega-splashes in the pot holes. This area was part of the same flood plain again and several of the roads were gravel here b/c they served virtually no purpose. It was rustic, but for whatev reason, it was what I personally needed.
From there we turned into the wind, making our return a bit more challenging. We faced one stretch where we were seemingly passed by 10 red trucks. I named the same area 'Hillybilly Hollywood' for some nice but badly-designed batch of brick homes with excessive architectural detail. They were something to study in lieu of thinking about the wind. We turn north for our last homestretch, all the while with me personally finding my legs at mile 35 or so. Strange.
We turned into Muscutatuck somewhat dramatically, with me catching a toe-overlap and ripping my front fender out of the rivets. My remainder would be ridden with a front mudguard constantly bouncing on the front tire.
|Muscutatuck NWF grassy road|
|Michael unfortunately out of focus|
For me it wasn't the easiest of days, but the section in J-W SF alone was worth the price, in addition to 56 greedy SCS miles. As always, Michael was a perfect ride companion and I appreciate his efforts to drive down and take it all in. One lesson from the day is that the Blueridge will *not* be my gravel grinder of choice in the future. It's a great bike which I'm enjoying, but it's a bit too dainty for the big grind. It'll be back to the LHT for me, for the time being. A successful day and I look forward to Apertome's more "pro" pics.