I had a good first day despite a flat tire right at the beginning, and a knee that started to get sore about halfway through the day.

Very old homes like this dot the National Road in this part of the state. This was probably an inn for travelers in its early years.

There’s a great scene in the movie The World According to Garp where Garp and his wife are looking at a house they might buy. As they walk out, a small airplane crashes into it. Garp says, “We’ll take it!” The realtor looks at him as if he were crazy, to which he replies, “It’s been pre-disastered!”

So was my trip this morning when within the first mile I got a flat tire. I changed it without any real trouble, but I lost a nut and a bolt. Fortunately, I was right in front of Menards so I went in and bought a replacement nut and bolt!

I’m learning that with probably 50 pounds of stuff in the saddlebag, bumps and road debris that I used to be able to take with no trouble can flatten my tires in an instant. So I just have to be very careful as I go. Additionally, the saddlebag kept getting caught in my spokes. Fortunately, I had a bungee cord that allowed me to pull the bag out of the way.

One of two 1800s mile markers that remain on the road in Wayne County. State Line 9 miles, Richmond 4 1/2 miles, Centerville 1 mile

I ate the lunch I packed in Centerville in a little courtyard next to the Mansion House. I also stopped for a good while in Cambridge City. I have documented both of these towns extensively before but what the heck, I did it again.

Today was a 35 mile day — but after 20 miles I started really wearing out. My lower back was starting to crab at me a little bit, and so was my left knee. I’ve had a little trouble with that knee in recent years, nothing too serious. But I will listen very carefully to it on this trip. I’m not afraid to scrub the mission if my knee starts to really threaten.

At the 27 mile mark I hit a wall, so I paused for a good long break. I happened upon a concrete culvert, so I sat on it, and even lay back into the grass. I spent easily a half an hour there, just watching the light move across a soybean field as clouds moved through.

That was the finest moment of my day.


26 responses to “Ride Across Indiana: This ride is pre-disastered”

  1. arhphotographic Avatar

    Ahhh life on the open road 😊

  2. J P Avatar

    I wondered if the lack of a well-stocked chase vehicle would be a problem. But you have overcome this so far.

    Here’s hoping the back and knee hold up.

  3. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    It can be a bit of a surprise when you discover you are not twenty any more! These days I have to work up to things I would once have done without a second thought….I hope your knee holds up and the second day brings a bit of rhythm to your trip. Looks like you are having a great time :)

  4. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Jim, sounds like you have all the bugs worked out now. Good luck, today should be a better day!

  5. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Your first day illustrates why I’ve been extensively researching airless tires. Had a buddy hip me to these a few years ago. Both as foam insets that replace the tube, but have the flex and cushion to replicate air in a tube; and as whole molded tires. Research continues, ’cause I hate flats!

    1. adventurepdx Avatar

      Have you considered going tubeless? That’s definitely a big deal these days, and I know folks who have done it have less flats. But it’s not a 100% foolproof system, and it requires you to be on top things, like how much sealant is in the tire and when the last time you filled it. Still, it’s better than those foam airless tires!

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        PDX, I am willing to believe that the industry is probably on the cusp of a really decent airless tire. It just takes the right amount of open cells in the foam, and the right type of foam make-up, to eventually nail it, from what I’ve studied; and people are working on it all the time.

        I do absolutely believe that tubeless tires probably have less flatting problems, but everyone I’ve known that tried them eventually went back to standard tube tires and rims, as when you actually DO get a flat, gluing a new tire on the rim and making sure it runs straight, etc., is far more of a headache with tubeless than just changing a standard tire set up. It always amazes me tho, that you can go years/miles on motorcycles and car tires, and never get a flat, whereas bike tires seem to go flat if you look at them cross-eyed! There’s definitely a technology failure/disconnect there somewhere….

        1. adventurepdx Avatar

          You’ve got more faith in the improvements of foam tires than I do! I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it does happen.

          I’ve heard most people bring a spare tube if there is a roadside flat and adding more sealant doesn’t take care of it. The only proper way to redo a tubeless tire is at home or in a shop. Yeah, it’s not a perfect system, but tubeless can be useful in certain situations, like if you bike through an area that has lots of thorns or goatheads.

  6. DougD Avatar

    Well, you’re in better shape than I, my knee and back would not tolerate 35 miles. Hope you’re not too stiff this morning.
    I think I’d like to cross your state on a Honda C70 step through, slow enough to see everything but easier on the knees. Safe riding!

  7. lasousa2015 Avatar

    The ripple of the wind on the soybeans is beautiful. Be save JG…Louis.

  8. Schmitt Avatar

    I love the way the color of soybeans changes with the wind. Really miss that living over here.

  9. Michael Avatar

    Sounds like you failed to train with your full load – tsk, tsk. My knee used to give me issues on my backpacking trips until I started training better beforehand. Praying your knee and back and tires hold up!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I did three rides at full load, but should have done one 30-miler. The longest full-load ride I did was 18 miles. Found some great back stretches online last night and feel 90% better.

      1. Michael Avatar

        That’s good to hear! Our older bodies are somewhat deceiving in what they will let us get away with at times. We aren’t spring chickens anymore!

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I’m definitely pressing it this trip. As you know, I’m utterly unathletic.

  10. Marc Beebe Avatar

    The week was cursed from the start. At least you got some good pictures!

  11. Kurt Ingham Avatar
    Kurt Ingham


  12. matt Avatar

    There’s not much point in doing something like this if you’re not going to take the time to relax.

    Schedules, itineraries and the like are all fine and good if something goes amiss — it’s nice to set those expectations; but keeping rigidly to a timetable defeats the purpose. Perhaps you got all the pre-disaster out of the way.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You have to book hotels in advance or you might find yourself with nowhere to sleep. Other than that, yes, this is about time not mattering!

      1. matt Avatar

        I can see that being an issue, sure; and it’s nice to have a place to crash and soak. I would (probably) be willing to camp it, maybe; but it’s not like that’s not just as much logistical work ahead of time.

        1. adventurepdx Avatar

          There’s pros and cons to each approach of touring.

          Doing a credit card/”inn to inn” tour means you’ll carry less gear and have a place to stay indoors each night, but unless you’re willing to chance it on a hotel each night, the bookings must be made in advance and it locks you into a schedule and specific daily mileage. I did a tour like this in July, and my second day turned out longer than I thought, 60 miles vs 40. I had hoped to keep each day in the 30-40 mile range and if I did it again, I would have broken the day into two. But I had to do what I had to do.

          Taking camping gear means you have lots more options on where to stay, but it adds weight/bulk to the bike. And in some areas of the US legal campgrounds are harder to come by than indoor lodging, like in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, the locale of my July tour. Yes, one can “stealth camp”, pitching your tent surreptitiously in less-than-legal spots. But you have to be willing to do it and willing to accept the inherit risk associated with it.

          I don’t look at bike touring as a way “to relax”, because if I want that type of vacation, I’d rent a spot on the beach for a few days. Bike touring is about other things: exploration and discovery, the sense of accomplishment I get from traveling under my own steam, the exercise I get.

          1. Jim Grey Avatar

            There was no place to camp legally on this route, so inn to inn it was.

  13. Andy Karlson Avatar
    Andy Karlson

    The grand tour begins! Can’t wait for further updates, and I’m glad you’re attending well to your physical needs. Regarding the photography angle, I’m struck by the brushstroke-like quality of the milestone image. I’ve noticed a similar look from my own phone’s camera, and I’m intrigued by it. Sometimes I find it compelling, other times repulsive. In this case, to me, it added a neat, almost mythic aspect to the image. In any case, hope the miles are smooth and safe today, and thanks for taking us along with you!

  14. adventurepdx Avatar

    “I happened upon a concrete culvert, so I sat on it, and even lay back into the grass. I spent easily a half an hour there, just watching the light move across a soybean field as clouds moved through.

    That was the finest moment of my day.”

    The Zen of Bike Touring. You may have preconceived notions of what will be “great” in a particular day, then a moment like this comes up. I’ve learned to cherish those moments.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That might end up being my favorite experience of the trip! It will be hard to beat.

  15. Darts and Letters Avatar
    Darts and Letters

    35 miles can put a crimp in anyone’s back! I hear you there, been doing lots of bike rides this summer but nothing quite that long (and not an awesome adventure like this). Just try to do plenty of stretching, getting off the bike here and the4re for pictures

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