Last weekend a good Army buddy of mine invited me over for his daughter’s 1st birthday, so I headed over to Indianapolis to attend the party. I happened to have taken I-70 home from Indy earlier this year, after which I felt like I lost a fight, so taking the freeway to Indy was absolutely out of the question. I said way back in April that I wanted to go back to Connersville to check out the trains, so this occasion seemed as good as any. While the purpose of this ride was business, I left early enough that I could stop and take photos when the opportunities presented themselves.
Since it was “on-the-way” I hit Oxford Road south of Germantown to skip traffic and straight roads between Miamisburg and Camden. From Camden it was pretty much straight out to the Ohio-Indiana Border on Ohio State Route 725 (OH-725). Considering I go up and down OH-725 on a regular basis, it’s become a snooze, but there are a few villages to stop in an try local food and whatnot for passersby. That being said, the adventure gets somewhat more interesting once into Indiana. OH-725 turns into IN-44 after a quick S-turn at the border. About 12 miles into Indiana you come upon the town of Liberty. I’ve probably mentioned before, I’m a sucker for old buildings and classic architecture. Obviously I wander around Ohio county backroads on a regular basis, but I’m still impressed with the historic property I passed in Indiana, starting in Liberty.
From Liberty it was more IN-44 over to Connersville. For folks with more time looking for more adventure I recommend checking out Quakertown and Dunlapsville, just south of IN-44 around Brookville Lake. Once in Connersville I was hunting down the Whitewater Valley Railroad; unbeknownst to me back in April, the Whitewater Valley Railroad operates historic train rides from Connersville down to the town of Metamora. For folks that don’t know, Metamora takes Christmas to a whole new level, you should look it up. At any rate, since I had some time, I wanted to look around Connersville for more photos of the trains and find out where the station was located and whatnot. Things were going pretty well until a series of emergency vehicles kept whipping past me on IN-121 while I was trying to take photos. Obviously, whatever emergency was going on was more important than my photography, so I felt it best to cut my search a little short. The trip wasn’t a disappointment, I still got a good shot of the vintage steam engine, along with a ton of rail cars.
From Connersville it was more (boring…) IN-44 down to Rushville. I went through Rushville for blink of an eye when I was headed over to the Indy Mad Max Run back in late April, this time around I noticed a lot more of the historic property I was just commenting about. Having had about enough of arrow straight state routes, I noticed some curves on the map and diverted my adventure onto the county roads.
These backroads in the Indiana boondocks are extremely familiar to those in rural Ohio; most of which I assume are “tar and chips”, routinely “re-surfaced” every couple years. It’s typically easy to know when you’ve crossed into the adjacent country as the ash grey texture tends to change to black tar depending on how long it has been since they’ve been resurfaced. While my trusty Speedmaster’s suspension was being tested by the uneven surface, it didn’t take long for my adventure to pay off; wandering up Co Rd 100W I noticed a truly “classic” car waiting at the stop sign. I slowly passed, fearing I may have ran a stop sign on the poor road conditions (fortunately not), then realized that I was in the midst of a true 1920’s Jalopy rally. I regretted that I didn’t have more time to follow them to their destination, but it was pretty cool to run up on several truly historic cars of that caliber.
In the Ohio BMV motorcycle learners handbook there’s a section that explicitly describes how to handle dog encounters while on a motorcycle. For whatever reason, that section always sticks in my mind, however up until last weekend I’d never encountered any issue. There have been many times that I have passed dogs on the side of the road, slowed to wait for them to cross (among other animals), but until Saturday, I was never pursued by an animal. Cruising down county road 200W I noticed some photo worthy stuff up ahead, so I slowed to let my GoPro turn on (it takes a moment for the remote to activate the camera). Unbeknownst to me, a farm dog was extremely unhappy about my presence; just over the sound of the engine, I suddenly heard a ferocious animal barreling down on top me. I emphasize “heard”, because at no point did I actually see the dog until I was convinced I was about to be lunch; I swiftly grabbed a big handful of throttle and left my four legged friend in the dust. Spotting him in the mirror, I suddenly remembered that section of the manual and laughed.
Not five minutes after my encounter with “Scruffy”, that whole tar and chips situation befell me. While I have handled quite a few newly “Tarred” and “chipped” roads south of Dayton, it’s extremely annoying, but keeping your speed down, and your lean angle up makes it manageable. Indiana however, ups the ante a little bit, while the “chips” in Ohio are tiny bits of pea gravel, Indiana must get some cost savings out of not crushing the rocks; their chips are more marble sized, and piled pretty deep. I guess I can’t complain, I typically fear getting tar on my ride in Ohio, that was certainly not going to be an issue in Indiana. Fortunately my adventure off the “pavement” didn’t last for more than a mile or so, and I managed to keep the rubber side down, so no harm, no foul. I’ll just chalk up this excursion to another example that my adventurous spirit may be better suited for a difference motorcycle chassis.
After my jaunt through county backroads I stumbled across Knightstown, Indiana. Just as I entered the southern outskirts, I came across the Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy. Admittedly I know next to nothing about the institution, it appears that it was formerly the “Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home” but has now been converted to a non-obligatory military academy sponsored by the Indiana National Guard. Honestly, everything I just mentioned is what I found on the web; what impressed me most is that the campus, at least in appearance, seems to be quite historic, which I why I stopped to snap a photo. Suddenly I was reminded of the Camp Miami campus I posted about earlier this year. From Knightstown is was pretty much Indiana state routes into Noblesville for the birthday party.
In the interest of time, against my better judgement, I actually hopped onto I-70 for part of the return trip, diverting onto US-35 in Richmond to take Ohio backroads back home. US-35 isn’t quite the snooze that I-70 is, but back in my “Drew the Cable-Guy” days, I worked these neighborhoods pretty frequently, so US-35 is less than exciting now. I did however take a moment to duck off on some side roads in Eaton to grab a few photos of the covered bridges there.
It was a fun weekend with a few “mini adventures” but not I feel like I have so much more to see in that seemingly flat neighboring state to the west. If time doesn’t escape me and the weather holds, hopefully I’ll finally get down to Oldenburg and ride up through Metamora later this year for some even better photos of historic Indiana.