Monday, July 13, 2009
Day 37 - Crawfordsville, IN to Indianapolis, IN
Racing around the Racing Capital of the World! Today's ride from Crawfordsville, IN to Indianapolis, IN was filled with sightseeing, interesting stops, beautiful scenery, and just plain fun riding. It was a great lead-in to our fourth and penultimate rest day in Indianapolis, IN. And if you were to survey our 23 cyclists, they would likely all agree that we were ready for a rest day!
We left our hotel and rode downhill into Crawfordsville for breakfast. The attractive, historic downtown was still sleepy on this Monday morning at 6:30 a.m. But after our fill of french toast, eggs, sausage, and coffee, we hit the road. Most of today's ride was through rural fields and forests regularly punctuated by small towns. This made for constantly changing visuals as we moved along. The first 30 miles to our SAG stop went through small burbs like Mace (add joke here about eyes stinging...), New Ross, Jamestown, Lizton, and Pittsboro. The day was bright and sunny with blue skies overhead and low humidity.
Our next stop was in Brownsburg, IN at the C.F. Roark Welding and Engineering Company. This manufacturer and fabricator mostly builds parts for jet propulsion and land-based engines. The reason for our visit is that when they're not busy making turbines or working on top-secret defense contracts, they make bicycles. In fact, they make custom titanium bikes with price tags of $3000 to $8000 each. I met Ted Roark, whose father started the company in 1949. He's a cyclist and several years ago decided to add a bike production unit to his company. He admitted that this sideline business is more of a hobby and not a major profit center at all. He has a program manager and a frame builder working for him. They build only 100 fully-custom bikes each year. They're spendy, but the workmanship is top-notch.
After our visit at Roark, we rode through more countryside until we reached Eagle Creek Park. This lush, green park is on the outskirts of Indianapolis. It immediately reminded me of home. There were tall pines (not quite like the Douglas Fir in Seattle, but close), dense forest, and blue lakefront. It was refreshing to ride through cool woodland terrain instead of the constant cornfields of the past week.
Leaving Eagle Creek Park, we passed an Indianapolis football training center for the Indianapolis Colts' farm team. Then we worked our way to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We made a wrong turn and asked two different drivers which way to the Speedway. Both indicated it was to our right. We asked a third man, walking on the sidewalk, and he said it was to the left, which was correct. We're still not sure which speedway the two drivers were pointing us toward. But we found the immense multi-block long speedway.
Riding along the street bordering it, we were amazed at the length of just the stands overlooking the raceway. We entered the speedway and checked out the historical museum. Inside, we saw a myriad of old race cars from the early days of racing, learned the difference between Indy cars and Formula One (Formula One cars used to race at Indy, but don't anymore), and learned that there are only three races at the Speedway: the Indianapolis 500 for Indy cars, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard for NASCAR, and the Indianapolis GP for motorcycles. As someone not acquainted at all with motorsports, I found the museum interesting and informative. But, my idea of racing was highlighted at our next stop.
A few miles away, we found the Major Taylor Velodrome. The Velodrome was named for Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor, who was an African-American cyclist who won the world one-mile track cycling championship in 1899 — after setting numerous world records and overcoming strong racial discrimination. A velodrome, for the uninitiated, is a 250m oval with steeply banked curves for track cycle racing. We have one in Redmond, WA near our home, but several of the other riders have never seen a velodrome much less biked on one. We took turns racing around the oval for our best time. We had heard the time to beat from an earlier group of our riders who had already come through was 29.0 seconds. Most of our group beat that time by a second or two. I raced and handily beat everyone with 26.7 seconds. Then Gerard, our ride leader, got out there and squashed my time with his 25.0. Darn...
The remainder of our ride into Indianapolis and to our hotel was along the White River Bikeway which connects with a bike path along a beautiful canal through the center of town. People were leisurely strolling through the parklike atmosphere or tooling along in rented pedal boats in the canal. For a bustling metropolitan city, this was a nice way to enter the downtown. Our hotel was just a few more blocks south, right next to the new Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. Roger, our rider from Pittsburgh—and a Steelers fan—was unimpressed! Dinner was at the Old Spaghetti Factory. We enjoyed dining with two riders who are back after a medical recovery. Rick left after the first day from a separated shoulder after a fall. Jim left after Salida, CO when his pacemaker malfunctioned. Both are fully recovered and excited to cover the remaining 1,000 miles with us. We're all ecstatic to have them back!
After a day of sleeping in, visiting with my high school friend and neighbor, Karin (Potts) Pinto, and just resting, we'll leave Indy and head to Richmond, IN for 73 miles and then tackle four days of 91-104 miles each until our final rest day in Erie, PA. I'm really looking forward to our next leg for two reasons: first, it will be my first visit to my birthstate of Ohio since 1988; second, I'll visit four more high school friends: Amy (Dyke) Benson, Krista (Thornton) and T.J. Schmitz, and Lori (Lalak) Lee. If there are any other ALHS friends that can connect with me, let me know!
For more photos from Central Indiana and Indianapolis, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100398
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 2,841
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 1,219 ft.
Max Elev: 964 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 11%