Author: Russell Nichols, Intrepid Trails
When someone says to me “it’s flat in Indiana”, I say “let’s go for a bike ride”. It is true the glaciers plowed through northern Indiana and left us with little to desire as far as hills, but they stopped somewhere near our capital city and began to erode away the hills of Southern Indiana and the Ohio Valley.
I run a bicycle touring company, Intrepid Trails, with tours in Chicago, Florida Keys and The Kokopelli Trails from Fruita CO to Moab UT, and I have been asked several times about tours in Southern Indiana. It’s true; there is great scenery, hills and miles upon miles of cycling country. In fact, when I decide I have a day to go riding I usually make the 1 hour drive to Brown County State Park for some of the best mountain biking in the Midwest. Brown County State Park has nearly 50 miles of purpose build mountain bike trails from beginner to expert level. IMBA gave BCSP “EPIC” status a few years back and as I understand, only one trail network in the world receives this status annually. That sounds big and it is. You can spend many hours riding different trails just the kind of terrain you are looking for.
Southern Indiana is host to many long, hilly, historic rides. When I’ve introduced myself as a cyclist, the question I usually get is “have you rode the Hilly Hundred?” The Hilly Hundred from Bloomington, IN is one of the oldest and most popular rides in the area. It is a two day road ride of 103 miles with an elevation gain of 6,704’. That’s right, see here.
Each March we all head south for a Cycling Adventure Race called the Death March. It’s early in the season, we all have very few miles outside and we jump into the hills for a race that will be sure to be your benchmark for the beginning of the season. I should have trained more over the winter is usually the result for me as depending on our route with have enjoyed an elevation gain of 3500 to 4500’ in a single day event of about 50-65 miles.
The www.dinoseries.com also host an end of season event through the Hoosier National Forest which was the final race of the 2014 American UltraCX Series. “This is not your typical road race, mountain bike race, or cyclocross race, it’s a combination of all three” the promoters attest and it is just that. Again, a one day race you will exceed 4000’ of elevation gain and the legs will feel every bit.
Indiana IS NOT FLAT. If you decide you might like to see what the Ohio Valley, Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky have to offer you will not be disappointed.
So I ask you, would you consider a multi-day bicycle tour in Southern Indiana?