Bike Tour 2022 – Windsor to Butler

I fell asleep way too early last night. I awoke at 3:30 and immediately began obsessing about my options for today. (1) Stay in Windsor. (2) Ride 20 miles to Clinton at the end of the Katy Trail. (3) Ride to Nevada or Butler, towns well beyond Clinton. (I checked Warmshowers but the only host was away. He only offered tent camping anyway.)

I tried to sleep again but gave up at 5:45. I rode to the town diner for breakfast. Eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns, coffee. All of it hit the spot. Maybe the best diner breakfast I’ve had in a long time.

I texted Kim who rented me the cabin. (Her business is called Kim’s Cabins for some inexplicable reason.) Her cabins were already booked for the long weekend. She suggested some other places in town.

I checked the weather report. It seemed to change every hour. What was once supposed to be constant rain beginning at 7 am was now pushed back to late morning. I decided to make a run for Clinton.

It was in the low 50s so I put on 2 shirts and my sun sleeves under my rain jacket. I wore rain pants. I tied plastic shopping bags to my feet to keep them dry. (My shoes were already wet from yesterday’s soaking.)

I lit out on Highway 52. No more Katy Trail grit for me or The Mule. I rode a mile before realizing I had left an article of clothing hanging from a hook on the back of the bathroom door. I texted Kim and she met me at the cabin to let me in.

Before I left she took a picture of me for her website. I hope I don’t scare any customers away.

To be honest, yesterday’s ride was so hard that I thought I might not be up to much more riding. once I got rolling today, I flew. Smooth pavement is a wonderful thing. Of course, it started to sprinkle then poured on and off. I was toasty in my layers and just amazed at how little effort it took to go 12 – 15 mph.

The highway was a two-lane, 55 mph road with rumble strips in the edges and down the center. I had to ride in the lane. My experience with rumble strips on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan came in handy. I checked my mirror constantly but I could hear cars and trucks approaching from behind with a minute to spare.

I had my rear blinkie going in strobe mode. Luckily no drivers had seizures from the flashing. Drivers, in fact, were extraordinarily cautious when passing me. I waved thanks whenever I could. When they’d move to the left to overtake me I could hear their tires hitting the center rumble strip.

I reached Clinton in well under two hours. Soaked but stoked, I checked the forecast and it had moderated with regard to rain so I called a hotel in Butler and reserved a room.

I glanced at a map on my phone and decided to wing it leaving town. In three miles I realized I was off course and made a correction. With the Google’s guidance I lit out westward. After 7 miles I followed the instructions to take side roads. Apparently Google doesn’t much care if you like unpaved roads or gravel roads. I put up with this annoyance for about four miles, then reversed course to the main highway.

The highway was all but deserted. I rolled along happily but more than a little miffed that my easy day was now going to be a long one.

The Google described the roads around here as “mostly flat”. From what I can tell,this means they are flat between the hills. Each mile seemed to have a climb. And a descent. This would be great on a road bike but not on a touring bike carrying 40 pounds of gear.

With 25 miles to go I left the Google route. Left on K then right on H. That’s all I needed to know. I lucked out that both roads were paved.

I turned on H with 18 miles to go. I counted down each mile, my way of enduring that last bit of riding before I bonk.

After many big rollers, and the approving looks of a few hundred cows, I made it to Butler. I was treated to one last soaking in the last few miles before town.

Possums must be incredibly fertile because nearly every road kill I saw today was a possum. I knew they were quite dead because they were being torn apart by vultures. Eww.

Today’s ride also broke a rule of mine: never stay at a Days Inn. I’ve had two wretched experiences with this chain but today I had no choice. As it turns out, the place is fine except for the fact that they have no elevator. Carrying The Mule (unloaded) up a flight of stairs did not make my back happy.

Riding west to Butler moved me away from the Ozarks, which I imagine will be filed with beer loving drivers over the coming holiday weekend.

I didn’t take any pictures on the road today. Cold rain and unintended side trips put the kebosh on that. Once I got to Butler I saw a sign. Home of the writer of the worst book I’ve ever read, Stranger in a Strange Land.

I don’t grok his writing

Tomorrow’s weather looks great, I would like to make it to the TransAm route in Kansas but it may be a bit too far. I’ll play it by ear. The ensuing three days are expected to feature very strong winds out of the south.

Today’s mileage: 76.5. Tour mileage: 320.5

Bulldogs, Windmills, and Cranes

After less than a day at home to catch our breath, Lily and I, joined this time by Gin, headed by car to Indianapolis to visit Butler University. The drive is long but not very stressful. We left just before sunset and ended up driving I-68 through the mountains. There was still plenty of snow on the ground and an occassional light snow fall as we drove. A couple of times we drove through snow devils, swirls of snow that engulfed the car for a few seconds.

We crashed at a hotel in Morgantown WV. Then as we left I suggested breakfast at Shoney’s, saying that since we were in West Virginia we had to be within a mile of one. And sure enough, we were.

We drove I70 west from Little Washington PA to Indianapolis. The first 100 miles we were driving parallel to the route I took across Ohio in 2003 and 2005 on a couple of bike tours. Just seeing the names of Belmont, Bethesda, Quaker City, Cambridge, Zanesville and Newark brought back all kinds of memories.

After checking into a hotel on the outskirts of Indy and finding nowhere to eat nearby we drove downtown and were all really excited to see plenty of places to eat. We ate at a Rock Bottom Brewery then called it a night.

Thursday, we took a tour of Butler University, a rare mediun sized school, located in a neighborhood of upscale and architecturally diverse homes.  In retrospect, the school and the neighborhood reminded me of Boston College.

We drove from Butler to the Broad Ripple neighborhood which has several quaint restaurants. We ate at a pub (they had the English football league standings on a tote board near the front door). The vittles were fine.

I didn’t expect much from Indianapolis, but I came away thinking that I could actually enjoy living there. They have a huge bike commuter station in the heart of downtown. There’s also a cycle track that we happened upon that is really top rate. And Butler apparently has its own bike share operation. And did I mention that bike commuters get to ride on a pool table? Yeah, I could handle riding to work in Indy.

Butler Bike Share

After lunch we headed north to the booming metropolis of North Judson. In its day, it was a railroad town. Its day is no more. We went there to visit my in-laws who live on a farm of sorts outside of town. I say “of sorts” because there are no crops or livestock.  It’s a house on a big ole piece of sandy land. It takes 4 days to cut the grass.

My mother in law took us to a nature preserve nearby where we were to see some sand hill cranes. There is a running joke in our family that sand hill cranes don’t exists because every time we’ve been taken to see them, there are none to be found. This time was different. There were a few hundred cranes off in the distance in a field. We saw them fly and walk about looking like extras from Jurassic Park.

We went out to dinner at a restaurant in a town called Toto, after which the Oz dog was named. The next morinng we we check out the birds that my in-laws have in their yard. The trick apparently is to use a dozen feeders with different feed in each one.  After hanging out we left at noon, driving straight through to home. It took about 13 hours door to door. Not a lot of fun. I did learn that eating Chex Mix when you are dead tired will boost your blood sugar enough to keep you from driving into a ditch. Vanilla Oreos are not nearly as effective because after an initial blood sugar boost, you get an insulin crash.  Then you have to eat more cookies, soon becoming a cookieholic.

I don’t know if my daughter will be a Bulldog or a Tiger next fall, but at least she had the chance this week to kick the tires of two universities that had the good sense of accepting her.

You can check out some pix of our adventure here.