250 Miles: One Day, One Way Across Indiana

Pandemic work-at-home started for me on March 17th.  I’d been spinning regularly at Lifetime Fitness 3-5 times per week riding 20 miles in each class.  So I woke up on March 17 at my usual 4:35am and told Deb since I am no longer going to the gym, I need to get my 20 miles in outside.  I put the lights on the bike and headed out at 5am. 

Little did I know I would miss only two days of riding between that day and the Trans Indiana 250 on September 26, 2020.  The Trans Indiana 250 was the inaugural ride across Indiana designed by Kyle Lagemann.  Deb and I saw it posted on Facebook in early 2020 and kicked around bikepacking it over two days.  As the year went by we mentioned it off and on, but never committed.  The first week of September Deb said she hadn’t been riding much and probably wasn’t going to do the ride, but since I had been riding every day, I should ride it. 

Well that was all the encouragement I needed.  I planned a 100 miler on September 12 and a 150 miler for September 19 to test my endurance and legs.  Of course they went just fine and it was time to plan for the September 26 weekend.  I was planning on riding self supported, but at the last minute Deb decided to SAG.  What a nice surprise 😊.

On Friday September 25, we packed up and headed to the start in Danville, IL.  We checked into our hotel and do what we always do before running marathons and riding bikes; find a local brewery for a couple of beers.  We lucked out with Vermillion River Beer Company just a couple of miles away.  It was a great evening with outdoor seating and live music playing.  Families with kids were enjoying the evening watching a man with a makeshift bubble machine.  Just a couple for us as we had a long day/night ahead of us.

I’d been riding my gravel bike, a Salsa Cutthroat, all year and was planning on riding it fully loaded for the ride prior to Deb deciding to SAG.  With her sagging, I just needed the bare essentials; head light, rear light, bike tools and my Garmin Edge 530 with the route loaded.

On September 26, at 6am, 14 riders showed up for the inaugural ride.  A group shot was taken and we were off.  Most riders were half my age and were obviously racing this ride.  My goal was just to finish 😊.

It started lightening up within the hour and we hit gravel roads early.  I met a couple of guys during that first 30 miles; Mark Carlson and Geoff Chandler and enjoyed getting to know them a bit.  Deb was up ahead at mile 30 and she had a hot breakfast sandwich with coffee waiting for me, and then I was off again.

Not too much farther down the road I came to a creek with the bridge out.  We got to hike-a-bike down one bank, cross the creek and hike up the other bank.  It was bit muddy, but no biggie.

I was looking forward to the next stop at mile 60 on the Purdue Campus at Harry’s Chocolate Shop.  No I wasn’t going to stop and have a cold one, but my sons Adam and Clayton and their friend Dylan were. They came up to root me on during the ride.  After a brief visit with them, I was off and next stop was Kokomo, mile 110. 

The day was going well with a favorable wind from S/SW.  The next couple of hours were just riding in the country.  I put the headphones in and enjoyed the ride.  I met Deb in Kokomo for a quick snack and Gatorade.  I then jumped on the Nickel Plate Trail heading north with a tailwind to Peru at mile 140.  Another quick stop and it was on to Salamonie single track at mile 160. 

My goal was to reach Salamonie before dark.  I almost timed it right but it was getting dark and difficult maneuvering on the single track.  Glad I had my head light to guide me.  Single track lasted about 5-7 miles and I got through it even though I am not much of a mountain biker without a mountain bike 😊. Another quick stop for food and I was off again. 

The plan for the remainder of the ride was to meet Deb about every 30 miles.  I was in virgin riding territory by this time.  The longest I had ever ridden before in one day was 163 miles at the RAIN ride.  I was amazed my legs were feeling so fresh and I really wasn’t tired at all.  That was the good news.  The bad news was the buns ☹.  They were in shape for the 30 milers I had been riding every day, but not this long of ride.  Just keep riding and suck it up!

I arrived in Ft. Wayne at mile 211 and met up with Deb.  My Garmin got a bit confused in Ft. Wayne. Gratefully, Kyle painted green Dan Henry’s to keep riders on course.  I knew I was in the home stretch now. 

A few miles out of Ft. Wayne at about 1am, I was riding out in the country along a non moving train.  Just then, my Garmin beeped for me to turn left on a road blocked by the train.  I called Deb and explained my situation and said “I think I can crawl under the train to get to the other side”.  Of course she talked some sense into me and I pulled out my phone and dialed up Google Maps to get around the stopped train. 

Just a short detour and I was back on track.  Next stop was New Haven at mile 235 and the last stop before the finish line.  I arrived to find Deb’s car running parked along the road and she had fallen asleep 😊.  After a quick stop, I gave her a kiss and said “see you at the finish line”. 

The finish line was the Indiana/Ohio state border.  With 15 miles to go, I headed out.  My mind said, “Enjoy This”.  My buns said “Hurry Up!”.  The last 10 miles was a gravel road riding between corn and soybean fields.  The finish line was uneventful with Deb sitting there in the parked car in the middle of nowhere. 

I finished and gave Deb a great big hug and kiss.  I noticed another biker was there who had finished just ahead of me.  Kimberly Byers lives in Ft. Wayne and was going to ride home on her bike from the finish line.  She gladly accepted a ride home so we loaded up both bikes and gave her a lift.  Although Fort Wayne to Indy is usually a two hour drive, this time it took a bit longer as we stopped three times for cat naps 😊.

It was a great day and it couldn’t have gone any better.  I finished the 250 miles in 20 hours and 11 mins at 3:11am. 

Will I do it again?  Deb and I are one-and-done-ers.  It’s off to the next adventure this summer, ride the Great Divide 2021!