Sunday, August 29, 2010

Great Black Swamp Ride

Saturday I rode east into the Great Black Swamp. We live on the glacial end moraine just north and east of Ft. Wayne.

Below is a photo of the Great Black Swamp, as it appears today.

Probably 99% of the swamp is gone today. The soil is ditched and tiled, very few trees remain. Those woods that do remain are on ground that was too wet to drain years ago. The drained ground, however, makes excellent farm ground. Graineries like this abound in every small town with a rail line in the Great Black Swamp.

In the afternoon, Alex and I drove to a nearby nature preserve to walk in the woods. Here's a photo of Big Oak and Big Oak (Big Bur Oak, actually). Bur oaks like this were common (and still are) in the Great Black Swamp on the bluffs along the Maumee River.

Here's the route I took. A 50 miler with no hills (I'm not counting the US 24 overpass as a hill, although it was the biggest I encountered the entire way).

View Great Black Swamp Ride in a larger map

Happy riding!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Cool Day

The weather is finally turning cooler after a hot July and August. While the temps were not nearly as hot as in other parts of the country, it's been humid almost every day since May.

Not tonight. Cool, clear air from the north!

The abundance of heat has matured the corn early this year.

I hope it is cool wherever you folks are out there biking!

Happy riding!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

St. Joe Century

I took a day of vacation yesterday (Friday) and spent the whole day riding. I hadn't been on the bike for almost a week, and after dropping our daughter off at college last Sunday, I hadn't felt like doing much after work.

So, I headed out down the road yesterday morning, with a vague plan - to follow the St. Joseph River to the northeast as far as I wanted.

A mile down the road from my house, is Schwartz Road, which has buggy lanes on each side for the large Amish population here. Just a couple weeks ago, the highway dept. chipped and sealed the road surface, but did nothing with the buggy lanes, which are pretty well chewed up from the horse traffic.

A few miles later, I crossed the Cedarville Reservoir, a dammed up portion of the St. Joe River. Looking across the reservoir is the small burg of Leo.

The main drag of Leo.

State Road 1 heads north out of Leo and follows the St. Joe River. The highway avoids the floodplains, but is located on bluffs where it comes close to the river. This is a pretty drive in the fall and the winter.

Spencerville is the next town up the road, and is the oldest settlement in DeKalb County. It was established sometime around 1830.

Two miles up State Road 1 is the town of St. Joe, even smaller than tiny Spencerville. Sechler's Pickle Factory is located just outside St. Joe, and every year St. Joe hosts the Pickle Fest.

Just outside of St. Joe, I took a right turn onto County Road 60 to get closer to the river.

On the right you can see a center pivot irrigation system - this field is a sandy field and the farmer uses river water to irrigate his field. While the spring and early summer have been excessively wet, it's been hot and dry since the end of June.

I turned onto State Road 101, crossed over the St. Joe river here.

I turned right onto County Road 79, with the sun over my right shoulder. The old Trek paint was sparkling in the sun, so I snapped this shot. It doesn't really capture the way the paint actually sparkled. Those sparkles caught my eye in the winter of 1985-86 when I bought this bike.

I crossed the state line into Ohio, and immediately I am shocked at how the scenery changes :)

All along the St. Joe River are gravel pits like this one. The old gravel pits make pretty nice ponds.

This is Edgerton, Ohio. These train tracks are really busy, and have been getting busier. I hope it's a sign the economy is picking up. Two towns west of here, I usually drop my wife off every fall at the train station to take the Amtrak train to Albany, NY, where she rents a car to drive to Vermont where her parents live. This year, her sister from the Chicago area is going to pick her up and they're going to drive.

The next town north is Blakeslee, OH. Sams Place is the gathering point for the community and for folks from miles around. They have the best food here. Every once in a while, I sneak over here for lunch. Nobody leaves hungry, and the food costs next to nothing. I don't know how they do it. In the evening, they have the best steaks for maybe hundreds of miles around.

A ways down the road I came into the town of Montpelier.

Like many towns in Ohio, the houses are all well-kept. And the municipal buildings are kept in excellent condition.

I headed up Ohio 576. I thought about riding a little farther to the Michigan line. But when I got to US 20, I thought I'd better turn around and head back. As soon as I turned around, I realized why I was making good progress. There was a moderate, but steady wind from the south.

Due to the heat, I thought I'd better stop and get some food and water on my way back through Montpelier. I found a picnic table and the Williams County Fair Grounds, where I drank my water and Gatorade and ate my fig bars.

This was a good place to stop.

South of Montpelier, I rode past this house(?). Unique.

This is a new bridge across the St. Joe that replaced the iron trestle bridge. That old bridge had so much more character than this thing.

Further south, and along the east side of the St. Joe is a road that follows close by the river for quite a way.

I'll have to head over this way in the fall.

After the photo above, I began feeling miserable - tired and hot. I was able to make it back, but was very glad when I got home. I ended up with 103 miles for the day.

I hope it's cool where ever you ride.

Happy riding!

Monday, August 16, 2010

People for Bikes

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