I’ve been riding my bicycle quite a bit lately.  It’s a Specialized mountain bike, about 10 years old.  I bought it at a place called Tarkio in Warsaw, Indiana.  The Tarkio shop has moved to Winona Lake and has been renamed Trailhouse Village Outdoor Store.  I recommend the place.  The owners are friendly, very helpful, and their merchandise is reasonably priced.

The bike has served me well during those periods when I actually use it.  I live in a neighborhood these days that offers hills and curves, so I’m able to ride close to home and get a pretty good workout.  I don’t ride it out of the neighborhood, however, because there is no good path for bicycles.  The county road that passes our neighborhood is very narrow and hilly, with no shoulders.  I see bicyclists on it from time to time and they are invariably in the way of cars.  The narrow road and hills create dangerous situations for people on bicycles, especially when two cars are approaching from opposite directions.  Some day, after the road is widened (which is on the Allen County Highway Department schedule), the Aboite New Trails project is planning a bike and hiking trail in parallel with the road.  That will be wonderful.  In the meantime, I’ve considered other ways to get out of the neighborhood on my bike.

A railroad borders our subdivision to the south.  A road of sorts within the railroad right-of-way is used by railroad vehicles and local 4-wheeler jockeys. Since the railroad crosses two relatively wide roads to the east and west, and those roads lead to some pretty good biking roads, I thought I might try biking along the railroad to get out of the neighborhood.  It sounded easy, and I tried it last week.  The roadway paralleling the tracks is made of large stones, the kind that the tracks themselves are placed upon.  The stones are not only large, they are also uneven and jagged.  My bike, as well as my butt, was at the mercy of the random dispersion of the stones.  I grunted and groaned as I made my way slowly and painfully among the stones, twisting and turning, grinding and gouging my way through the clutter of rocks.  I pedaled on them for perhaps 200 meters before finally giving up and turning around.  It would have been possible to complete one-kilometer journey to the nearest road, but the effort required to do so would have spoiled the rest of my journey.

I like a bit of resistance from time to time while riding, but I’m generally not geared up for total misery.  So, for the present, I’ll stay in the neighborhood for short runs, and load the bike up and drive to a different place for longer rides.  I look forward to the day when the Aboite New Trails folks complete the construction of bike trails in our township.  Here’s a map showing the trail routes in Allen County, Indiana.  You might notice that the great majority of routes are designated as planned or conceptual.  The green routes are those planned in Aboite Township, and they’re the ones I’m most interested in presently.

Soon I’ll have my new bike, under construction by my son, Pat.  It will be lighter and more agile than my present bike, and will probably put me in the mood to try some real mountain bike trails.  I’ll cover the breaking in of the new bike here.  Stay tuned.

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