“Where The Heck Are We?” – My Most Challenging Ride Yet

Three of us braved the gravel roads of rural southern Indiana.  The weather was great, the scenery was beautiful, and the hills were challenging.

First off, a gravel downhill run can be quite dangerous on road tires.  There were several times it was difficult to keep the speed under control without skidding.  Tim had the right idea with his wide knobbies.

I started the ride off with a less-than-auspicious start.  I used all four of my spare tubes within the first seven miles.  I had two rear flats and one front flat.  I also managed to break a valve stem during one of the tube changes.  Luckily, I had no other flats after that.

Tim was having a bad day for climbing and struggled up the last few hills, but climb them he did.  “L” is a relatively new rider, and took advantage of riding in the truck for the worst climb.  I was actually doing well on the climbs.  I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment once reaching the top, but I can’t say that the actual climbing wasn’t brutal.

As Tim says in his post, we shortened the ride to 50 miles to avoid more gravel, and a potential flat.  I will be looking into buying some better tires for the next ride.

This wasn’t my longest ride, but it was the most grueling.  Our average speed was pretty pathetic.  The gravel slowed us down, the hills slowed us down, and the flat tires slowed us down.  I did take one minor fall while coming to a stop due to my own inattention, but I wasn’t hurt, just embarrassed.

The scenery was quite nice.  I wasn’t taking any of the pictures.  My fiance, Kristy, and my daughter, Dawn were following in my truck, and took the pictures in this post.

Quiet wooded roads were common

Quiet wooded roads were common


My daughter Dawn standing at the boat launch at Alton


Ohio River traffic

Riding through Leavenworth

There was a bar in Leavenworth, but it's not open on Sunday


Buzz Off!


A short steep climb on loose gravel - difficult with 700x35C tires


Scenery like this and nearly no traffic made for a very peaceful ride


Climbing up away from the river was hard work, but made scenes like this possible


I really was having a better time than the facial expression seems to imply


That's better!


Dawn being cute


Tim's got the no-hands thing down - I'm lucky to keep the bike upright using one hand


This bridge was quite dangerous, yet I like it - I don't see anything weighing 12 tons making it across though


Some of the ride had nice shady areas


Other areas were in full sunlight - some sunburn did occur


I don't think anyone uses this barn anymore


Staying visible - Tim with his triangle, "L" with her pink jersey, and me with my tail light




This sad-eyed dog chased us briefly, but mostly ignored the truck


Slogging uphill through the gravel


Oh yeah, don't I look happy


I think I can, I think I can, I think I can


Nearing the end

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3 Responses to “Where The Heck Are We?” – My Most Challenging Ride Yet

  1. Apertome says:

    Somehow I didn’t see this post at all. It’s really cool to see shots of everyone riding, which is difficult to do if everyone is on a bike. They sure got some great shots! You can see how you’re suffering on some of the hills, but having fun also.

    I ride lots of gravel on 700x37C tires, with a little bit of tread. They work well on all but the loosest gravel, and roll fast on the road as well.

    Was the HNF gravel loose and chunky?

  2. tex69 says:

    Like Apertome, I didn’t see this update until later today. These are some great shots and it shows that a “new” perspective can make for some nice, extemporaneous moments. Nice work!

    And we’ll be back on some variation of those roads. I’m ready to return. I don’t know if the legs are.

  3. I’ll be ready to return to those roads also. The new tires will be installed. They are just a tad bit wider, but should be more durable.

    Climbing the hills toward the end of the ride really became a mental thing. It was a matter of just keeping my head down, and keep the pedals going around.

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