We gather at the church and packed the trailer. Eric wiped out in the parking lot before we left. We started riding about 10:30. Eric was not able to shift his front derailleur. We stopped at the intersection of Clinton and Salem streets in Clayton. Someone had turned the adjusting screws all the way down, preventing any movement. A quick adjustment and Eric was shifting again .
Lunch was in the grass next to the parking lot of the small store in Ithaca. Jake wiped out walking from his bike to the store. Eric bought a pickle to complement his lunch. He seemed to have some difficulty with the sourness of said pickle. The event was recorded on film so the pickle would not be forgotten. The store owner allowed us to use her garden hose to fill our waterbottles.
Riding resumed into a West wind. The boys did not care for the wind. They also complained about the hills but there were not many nor were any very steep. Murphy's Law for cyclists is "It's ways uphill and against the wind." There will be other factors to add to this basic version of Murphy's Law as we go.
Fall number 3 occurred at the edge of an intersection. Heath rolled backward into a ditch. Fortunately he did not pick up any poison ivy. The ditch was full of it. John had been hassled by a farmer thinking he was up to no good while he waited for us. He explained what he was doing and the farmer retreated. We refilled our waterbottles and continued. Due to the wind some of the boys opted for the sag wagon when we reached Bloomingport. This is barely a village consisting of a church, a store, and a few houses. The remainder of the ride today went well. Mike was having trouble with sore knees but rode the whole way in spite of the pain.
We arrived over 2 hours late at the Kemper's trailer. The beef stew and lemonade was ready and enjoyed by all. I was accused of eating a dutch oven's worth of stew but I know I didn't eat that much. The tents were setup after supper. Mike Kemper presented to each of us the new Crossroads Council strip. We sat around and talked the remainder of the evening. Some of the boys went to the game room.
July 14, 1996
We finished breakfast and were underway at 9:14. A picture was taken at the entrance to the Modoc Campground. As we rode through Modoc, Eric showed us the church his family attends when camping. John had a spot picked out to meet us and we found him in Parker City. John left us and the riding continued. The van was seen again a little over ten miles from the last point near a bridge. John would not be seen for quite a long time following this break. I had not ordered the maps for today when I gave John his copies. He followed the maps out of order when he reached the county line and ended up well off the route. He asked for directions. The guy he talked to wanted his maps. He couldn't believe how old they were. The maps show things that haven't been around for a long time. Murphy's Law had struck again. This one will not be repeated.
John re-oriented himself and found us on the road between Albany and Eaton . He proceeded on to Eaton. We found a shady spot along the street where John was able to park and lunch happened. The lunch mess was cleaned up and riding resumed.
We found John parked at a grocery store in Upland. The boys had to visit the store. They liked the blonde behind the checkout counter. It had already rained some and was looking like it might rain again. Several boys opted to sag. Matt, Jake, Heath, and I continued riding.
A few miles out of Upland the rain caught us. The trees were not enough protection. Jake asked at a nearby house. The people let us stay in their garage. I kept trying the radio. I finally got John but he was too far out to understand me. I could hear him quite well. (This would prove to be the handheld radio's limitation. It can receive from quite a distance but has a very limited transmit range.) The rain had stopped. The four of us went back out to the road and met up with the van. The boys decided to keep riding . I took a picture of the storm from the I-69 overpass. It was now well to the north of us.
Heath was chased by Jake the dog (a Chow) just as we met up with the van. They (the sag people) would go on to the campground and get set up. They would initially try the east side and then the west side. Aaron rejoined the riders.
Entering the east campground the van was nowhere to be found. The west side is on the other side of highway 105 so off we went. The van was not found in the group camping area. The ranger said they were here. The next ranger shack was able to give us a campsite number. Our campsite was finally located 5 miles and 30 minutes after our arrival. A note was left on the sign out by 105 but we didn't see it. Today we rode over 80 miles. This campground has nice restrooms and showers. Getting cleaned up after riding in the rain sure was nice.
Mike had been having trouble with his wheels. I spent an hour on each wheel trying to get them true. I did not expect them to last very long. The rims were bent too much.
July 15, 1996
Allen and his cousin John joined us. Today there are 9 bikes on the road as opposed to yesterday's 7. It was cloudy when we left. Five miles into the ride it was roaring sunshine. Heath tacoed Mike's wheel. Opening the brake allowed him to continue. Upon reaching the van the front wheel from Heath's mountain bike was put on Mike's bike.
Just before lunch a nice down hill run was enjoyed by all. Speeds well in excess of 30 mph were easily attained. The wind again today has been a restraining factor (Murphy's Law again). Lunch was beside the road under a sycamore tree. The well fed group proceeded toward Roann.
A squabble ensued between two riders a few miles before Roann. Tempers flared but riding soon resumed. It was much easier traveling north with the wind. Even though the route was not flat (small hills) we rolled along much better that this morning. We soon entered Roann. John was parked in an alley next to a gas station.
The covered bridge at the north edge of town saw the group gathered for a picture. Approximately 7 miles later we crossed Indiana 19. I told the boys my parents live on 19. They said "let's go !" I told them it was over forty miles. We would not go there today.
The other side of 19 brought us to the first dirt road of the trip. A new Murphy's Law: If it's not uphill and/or against the wind it's a dirt road. Kenny was driving behind us and picked up those that did not want to ride such a rough/loose surface. The surface returned to pavement a couple miles later. The saggers rejoined us. Heath was paced by a dog we called Beast. Beast ran beside Heath at better than 23 mph. Beast stayed with us for over three miles. Kenny ended up taking him back where he first joined us.
The sag wagon was found just south of Macy. We refilled waterbottles and rode on. Rain and lightning were visible ahead. We ended up riding between two storms. Turning from west bound to north bound a lightning bolt struck dead ahead several miles. The storm was long gone by the time we got that far north. The sag wagon was encountered. Mike found he did not like "bike in the ditch," especially since John and I were within a few feet from him. Two pops coming up courtesy of Mike.
There was some difficulty matching the map to the roads we were riding. John drove ahead to check things out. We rode into Rochester and took a picture by the sign. We were to meet John at highway 31 but were not certain which road to take. Kenny went to find John. He was not far away. We went north out of town and took the first left. John was between 31 and old 31. It was too far from here to Bass Lake to ride with the amount of daylight left. The bikes were loaded into the vans. The drive to Bass Lake saw a lot of rain. Lucky for us it had stopped by the time we arrived.
Camp was set up quickly. Supper was Spaghettios. Seven large cans were prepared. The group was hungry tonight as there was nothing left. Kenny and cousin John left after supper. John gave the group his High Adventure Speech. It is expected there will be no more problems like this afternoon's before reaching Roann. A hard rain soon followed but did not last very long.
July 16, 1996
Today it is sunny and warm. Some of the boys rode around the entrance to the park while waiting for everyone to get ready. A group picture at the sign near the park entrance was needed before getting under way. A short distance into the ride a detour is encountered. We change the route and continue. It's not a big deal. The distance will be the same.
Allen had a flat tire. He rode too far on it after it flatted and put at least 5 holes in it. John had pulled into a cemetery. Allen's wheel was fixed here. He only had to walk about half of a mile. I put in a spare tube rather than fix all the holes. We rode about another hour and then stopped for lunch.
Lunch was next to a cornfield. The van and trailer were parked on the other side of the road. An electric fence was just begging to be touched. The boys had to check it out.
We hadn't ridded far after lunch when the route had to be changed. The road did not go through like the map showed and the traffic was too heavy to ride to Door Prairie Barn. Then Mike crashed and hurt his knee. It's time to get off this road. John scouted ahead as I gathered the scouts back into one group. John got us through Kingsford Heights. We marked up the maps with a route to get us from here back to the original route.
While riding through Kingsford Heights Hoosier Park came into view. A picture of the park and sign were needed to show a scout back home.
We had seen enough of dirt roads when we came upon John. He said to go another mile then left 100 yards. McDonalds was at the end of that 100 yards. We were ready for a break.
Something to eat had us ready to ride. Matt, Aaron, Heath and I continued the ride. The rest of the group decided to sag the last 20 miles to the Indiana Dunes. There were a couple of sections of rough road surface but at least it wasn't dirt. This part of the day went fast . The wind at your back always helps.
We had no trouble with the route or traffic since McDonalds. We had to take a picture at the sign. The Dunes were in front of us. The fee was quickly paid at the guard shack and we rode to the beach then off to the campgrounds to find the rest of the group.
Supper was chili dogs and root beer. It was mentioned that the root beer made the chili hotter. Mike had a mouthful and I said to drink some aloe. He almost sprayed root beer everywhere. Later in the evening raccoons descended upon the campground. They were everywhere. Fortunately they did not mess up our site too much.
July 17, 1996
We rode to the beach after breakfast to take some pictures. All were to wear their scout t-shirts and cycling hats. On to the sign for another picture. This time it's the whole group. We then headed to the Calumet Bikeway.
The bikeway began across the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Railroad tracks . A train had just stopped. We waited and watched the train take on passengers and depart.
The bikeway is semi-paved and easy to ride. We reached Tremont Road. Some of the boys had taken Tremont instead of continuing on the bikeway. They came back and the bikeway was resumed. Allen had another flat. Allen started walking. I rode ahead to John while Heath stayed with Allen. I brought Jake's bike back for Allen to ride to the van. Allen would ride the mountain bike for the remainder of the day.
Lake Shore Drive had almost come and gone when it was decided to let the boys swim for a while. The water was cold but they enjoyed it anyway. The boys changed back into cycling clothes and riding resumed.
No problems were encountered getting into Michigan City. Once there we proceeded to get lost and ended up near the prison. While stopped to consult the map some prison guards drove up and asked if we were staying long. They told us which street to take after we explained where we wanted to go. We rode through town and found Washington park. John said he was yelling at us near the statute but we did not see him. We were headed out of town and turned around and went into the park since we had not seen John. He was spotted a short time later. Time for lunch under the shelter. It was trying to rain.
Lake Shore Drive took us out of Michigan City through Long Beach, Duneland Beach, across the state line to Michiana, and Grand Beach. In Grand Beach there are two neat roads. One had some nice downhill runs. The other was a twisty downhill multiple surface types road. A fun road for a mountain bike. John was a short distance away next to the country club.
John had found a shorter way to Wilson Road. We stopped at a Wendy's because Eric was low on water. While there it started to rain. We waited it out eating and refilled our water bottles. It started to rain again shortly after leaving Wendy's. Under a tree near Wilson and Lakeside roads, we sent Mike to look for shelter. The rain was picking up in intensity. Mike returned and told us he had found a house with a barn we could wait out the rain in. The problem with the barn was that it was a half mile off the route and I did not have the radio (the batteries were dead). We went anyway.
The barn was dry. Eric promptly fell asleep next to Aaron. The rain let up about an hour later. Back on the road the rain found us in short order. It was bad enough it was raining, but we also ended up on a dirt road. As I ride by a house there's a guy on the front porch. All he can say is "Bummer !" as we ride past. Murphy's Law was getting us today ! Allen falls on a railroad crossing. The rain has made it very slippery. The boys want to stop but we can't. We're too wet and it' not warm enough. Onward we plod. There are no happy campers at this point in time. John meets us about three miles from camp. He leads the way and everyone finishes the ride to Warren Dunes.
John lead us to the showers. The boys shower while John and I pay our fee for camping/showers. I will shower tomorrow and head back to the group camping area to pick a site. I find a site and John arrives a few minutes later. The boys begin to arrive from the showers. Camp is set up and it's time to think about food.
It was decided at the showers to order pizza. John takes several scouts to a payphone to order. They got a good deal on pizza and drinks. They took a long time getting back because they ended up going and picking it up instead of having it delivered (pick up was faster that delivery). It's amazing what Pepsi and pizza can do for morale.
John headed to the shower after eating. It started to rain just as he got back.
July 18, 1996
It rained pretty much all night. It was still raining when I got up. No one else was up as I headed for the shower. On the way back I had the radio on trying to get a weather report. They said some places in the Chicago area had over 16 inches of rain. We experienced over 5. It was supposed to rain for at least the rest of the morning.
Everything was packed into the trailer. Breakfast will be at the beach. The rain has let up. It's windy and we can see a storm out over Lake Michigan. A ranger drives up and over the top of a dune on an ATV as we are leaving.
It was decided that we will drive out of the rain before attempting to ride today. Highway 12 takes us south. It rains periodically. John stops to get gas. A passenger train goes by before we finish at the gas station. A few miles down 12 brings us to US35. We hang a left and take 35 into Laporte. A Schwinn Bike Shop prompted a stop. Mike bought a computer for his bike and Jake got a seat bag. A brief picture stop was made at the Door Prairie Barn. I had intended to stop here on the way to the Indiana Dunes on Tuesday.
Lapaz was our lunch stop in the parking lot behind Speedway. There is water everywhere. Rivers and creeks are overflowing, fields are flooded. Even the area behind the Speedway is flooded. The weather is looking good. Riding will start from here. The tube in Aaron's rear tire has to be replaced before we can start because the valve is cut. It only takes a few minutes and we're underway. We take US31 north over the overpass to the first country road and turn east. I had drawn up a new route and gave John his copy. He would meet us at the hobby shop in Bremen. Traveling east lead us to a dirt road. No dirt roads for us so we turn left instead of right. In less than half a mile the road is flooded. I think it is too deep but I'm not sure. A pickup truck came and tried to go through. He hadn't gone very far and was up to the axles. He backed out, turned around and left. We also turned around. The dirt road was short, only about a half mile. A train was heard after we crossed the tracks. Naturally we had to go back and watch.
We crossed US6 and followed the route without problem and reached Lake of the Woods. I got turned around and was off by 90¡. I had us lost for a couple of miles. Mike didn't like knocking on doors with all the big dogs around. Plymouth-Goshen road re-appeared. Soon the Bremen city limits sign was behind us and we found John a little poorer for having visited the hobby shop. The boys all went in and had a look around.
Bremen was shortly in the distance as we headed toward Nappanee on the old Bremen road. There is a low spot on the road which was flooded. Everybody stopped. An Amishman behind us on a bicycle sped up, lifted his feet and went through the water. We all clapped for his performance. Most of us decided to walk through carrying our bikes after removing our shoes. Jake rode through. Eric and Mike tried to walk into the flooded field but backed out quickly because of the mud and water depth. In Nappanee we took Guiss and Van Buren streets to the Eppley house. Mom had baked some cookies which she presented to Mike in a bucket. The boys saw some pictures of my brothers and me and heard a little bit of history of the Eppley boys. A thank you for the cookies and off to Steve's house.
Steve (my brother) and I went to get one of his tractors. Each scout got to drive the tractor. Heath even drove it on the road. Aaron was the last to drive. He drove down the driveway and back and turned the tractor around. He was having some difficulty with the clutch. The next thing we know he's driving over the mailbox. Steve was jumping around trying to get the tractor stopped but was laughing too much. The tractor was brought under control and Aaron climbed down with a new name - 'Mailbox Barnes'.
Mom and Dad and Aunt Jo came out. Aunt Jo had a small tape recorder and taped some of the conversation. Heath built a fire and we cooked our pie-iron pizzas. Terry (my other brother) stopped by for a little while. Hotdogs and marshmallows were roasted over the fire.
The cooking being done, Heath proceeded to built up the fire to bonfire proportions. Steve and Cindy wanted the brush pile burned up. It wasn't all burned but it still made for a big fire. Some of the boys played ping-pong or pool. Most of them left coins on the tracks to smashed by a train. Mike and I mounted and calibrated his computer.
Several trains passed during the night. Some of the boys got up when a train was coming. A train is pretty loud when you're trying to sleep about 50 feet from the tracks.
July 19, 1996
During the night the wind had changed from southwest to northwest. That would make the day's ride much easier since we were traveling southeast.
We cleaned up after ourselves and policed the area. With the house locked up we headed down the driveway and turned south.
Heath ran into Eric when turning onto county road 1350N. That is what I saw. Heath and Eric may have their own versions of what happened. It messed up Heath's (actually Jim's) rear wheel. Riding eastward we came to Milford Junction (B&O-Pennsylvania crossing). Some of us rode over to check out the old bridge but it had been replaced.
Through Milford to Leesburg brought us to John where the old train station used to be. Less than a mile later we stopped at Terry's house. The boys had some ice-water and talked to my nephew Clay and sister-in-law Georgie. I filled the water jug and picked a spot to meet John.
We rode and had an easy time with the route. John was nowhere to be found. We passed through Wooster but John was not there. The group is hungry by this point but we continue.
West of Sidney was another low spot that was under water. Other low spots had been low enough to ride through. Most of us decided this one was too deep to ride. Matt tried but Mike got in his way and he got his shoes wet. He was not happy. The water was about knee deep in the middle. Another five miles and we were reached North Manchester. Still no John. We pass Manchester College. A stop was made at the Burger Dairy store for food and drink.
I left the group to look for John. I rode a couple miles beyond the covered bridge. I turned around and went back to town. I found a pharmacy and got some Tylenol for Eric. A tooth was bothering him. We started riding shortly after I returned to the store.
John showed up just before we reached the village Servia. We stopped there at a small park and had lunch. The boys enjoyed the merry-go-round. Eric opted for the van. The rest of us headed for Huntington.
We tried to take the back way out of Huntington to the campground. The road we needed was closed because of a washout. A sign on the road warned us: Hills next 1 mile. A second crossroad was not found so we turned around and went back to Broadway Street. Broadway took us to IND224 which we followed to Kil-So-Quah State Park. We found John at the entrance to the campground. He said it was under water. The ranger had told him the water was rising 1" per hour. The bikes were loaded into the trailer and they drove to Lost Timber. We had stayed there on the trip northward and it was fairly close. They drove off and I rode to Lost Timber. I stopped in the bridge over the reservoir and took a picture of the setting sun. Supper preparation had begun by the time I arrived. Some of the scouts had gone to the camp store.
The Ranger brought us some firewood for free. We ended up cooking on the stove and would save the wood for tomorrow.
Eric and I rode up to the Ranger shack and called home. His tooth was bothering him. I talked to Marsha (mom) and then let him explain his problem. We really couldn't do much until Monday. She said to gargle with warm saltwater.
Back at the campsite it was time for supper. "Mailbox" tried to eat more than me. I didn't care if he did. It had been a good day in spite of the late lunch. The scouts showered after eating and went to bed. It was real quiet after that.
July 20, 1996
The scouts were on the road about 9:30. This time the north side of the sign was used for the picture since we came in from the north.
Highway 105 southbound would be our first road. I didn't read the map right and turned one mile too soon. The result was not finding John for a long time. John had passed by unseen since we were off the correct route from mile 5 to mile 9. The radio batteries had not been replaced yet so the radio was still in the van.
During a break at an intersection I rode ahead looking for John. A little over a mile brought me to Salamonie School. I rode back and had the scouts ride to the school. There were many complaints about the wind. Murphy's Law for cyclists had caught up to us once again. The east wind was in our faces. Most of today's travel is east.
The search for John continued with the scouts taking it easy at the school. A little over three miles from the school I see a blue van approaching from the east. It's John ! I tell him where the scouts are and we both head that direction. I made those three miles back in less than ten minutes. Traveling with the wind makes it easy.
Lunch was happening when I returned. There were many complaints about riding into the wind. Our progress was only 16 miles. Wind had caused some to sag the first day. Today it would happen again. Three riders decided to sag after lunch. It was also discussed that Aaron would be a spot on the road just before crossing the state line.
I got the radio out and removed the bad batteries. John would look for batteries when he got gas for the van. We met the van a couple times while riding. Warren was close to Salamonie School but the gas station did not have batteries. Batteries were not to be found until Bluffton. South of Bluffton the route brought us to the Hoosier Highway. Everybody thought of Joey D. A picture of the sign was deemed necessary.
We stopped at the store in Linngrove and had something to eat. The lady asked if we had found John. He had been here before lunch looking for us.
The van and trailer are visible as we approach the state line. They are parked on State Line Road.. Seconds before reaching the Indiana-Ohio state line, John comes out from behind the trailer. He has his water cannon loaded with Aaron in his sights. "Mailbox" died from a water cannon blast. There is a spot on the road short of the state line.
Chattanooga, Ohio is a little over a mile away. A picture of the riders is taken at the sign on the north edge of Chattanooga. The van is parked by the church. The bikes a packed into the trailer. There are too many miles and not enough daylight. Reluctantly we load into the van and head south and east.
Lake Lormie State Campground is full. There is an overflow area where we are able to set up. Showers are also available. The campground booklet I have says no showers. I need a new booklet.
Kenny and Alice came up and brought John with them. They visit for the evening and take Allen with them. John will be going back to Florida tomorrow.
July 21, 1996
Today dawned cool and cloudy. The boys were up around 7:00. Breakfast was no-cook and went quickly. Gatorade was made and the trailer was packed up. The road is before us at 9:08. We head toward Fort Lormie after a picture at the campground sign. John follows us. The signs don't indicate which way to go to get to 705. Mike asks at BP. 705 is a couple blocks south. John goes on ahead. John comes back into view about 11 miles down the road.
Aaron gets hit by the water cannon. It's a little cool today for that but he doesn't complain about being wet. The wind is chilly and most of us have long sleeves on.
Lunch was on the south side of Greenville Creek where we met up with John. Aaron and John got into it again. Aaron tried to throw the cooler of Gatorade on John and missed. John fired and scored a several direct hits.
Mike and Heath went after me. Heath found a sharp edge in the grass and cut his knee. I did not get taken down. Heath used a bungee cord to attach his foot to the pedal. He would ride with one leg so he would not have to bend his cut knee.
We found John at 571. Eric had to pet the two cats. He decided I needed a passenger. He placed the cat on the back of my bike. The cat did not stay there long.
John was going to meet us at the McDonalds in Englewood. The hills were getting to Heath trying to use just one leg. He gave in and started using both legs before we reached Union. A brief stop was made at Jake's house as we passed through Union. The van and trailer were parked outside McDonalds. Inside We found John and his kids eating. The boys got their money and ate pretty well.
It was trying to rain as we exited McDonalds. It was decided to go to my house. There we cleaned out the van. Our last stop was the church. The equipment was unpacked and stored in the church. The van and trailer put away. Murphy had to strike one more time with the rain. Murphy may have slowed us down but couldn't stop us. The Great Ohio-Indiana-Michigan Bike Adventure had come to an end. A very good ride.
Requirements for the Cycling
A bicycles newsgroup rec.bicycles.rides.
The Global Cycling Network
Special thanks to Assistant Scoutmaster Rick Eppley for writting this.
Return to Troop .