Thursday, February 25, 2016

Winter Bonus Miles and Comfort Food

The Bacon Trainer photo bombs our start.
Linda and I just completed another spontaneous weekend overnight. After checking the weather Saturday morning, Linda made a few calls for a hotel while I hooked our Burley Nomad trailer to the tandem. We each packed a duffle bag with a change of clothing, the next day’s cycling gear, and extra layers for the variable weather. After a quick lunch, we dropped our bags in the trailer and we were off.

Of course, the most unique thing our latest getaway is that it is February, which is not a traditional bike touring month for the Midwest. While a late afternoon high near 70 (F) was the treat, the stronger than expected west winds almost derailed our trip. So, just a few miles from home, we re-evaluated our destination, first calling a hotel in the opposite direction, and the canceling our first reservation. (How did we ever bicycle travel before cell phones, let alone smart phones?)

With the change in direction, our riding immediately went from a thigh-burning struggle to relatively easy rolling. The roads were all familiar, with the exception the lack of crops. Some of the roads closer to Tipton were almost unrecognizable without the green walls of corn coming right to the edge of the edge of the pavement.

No corn, and no beans, but still flat.
Shifting from Lebanon (on Interstate I-65) to Tipton was possible because we had found a small private hotel (no reservation required) via the Internet. Arriving in the late afternoon, we checked in, rolled the trailer into the room, and we went back back out on the tandem to scout out dinner (and breakfast) opportunities. After reviewing the options along the mile-long strip that is Tipton, we put the bike the room for the night, showered and walked out of our hotel, across a parking lot, into an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet.

After a restful night, we woke to clear skies and cooler weather, in the high 30s’, but still above normal for a February morning. The wind had shifted to the north overnight, and while it was chilling, it would be a tailwind for the ride home. We leisurely prepped for the day, before rolling the trailer and tandem out of the room. Linda checked us out of the hotel, while I reconnected the trailer, and we mounted up for the quick ½ mile to our next meal, this time an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.

Rolling luggage.
While we ate breakfast, three other diners’ asked about our riding. One friendly gentleman, looking to be at least in his 70’s, asked if we had ever ridden the Nickel Plate Trail. We shared with him that it was one of favorites, and he told us that he and group of friends on trikes met to ride it many times every summer.

Our late breakfast put on the road a little after 11 under sunny skies. Our first 15 miles were almost car-free, working our way gradually south and west toward Wilson’s Farm Market. One of favorite summer destination, we were excited to learn it was now open year round. We didn’t need lunch yet, but there was plenty of room in the trailer for a warm loaf of their famous pretzel bread and few other essentials.

It was another easy hour on the bike for the last 16 miles home, with one more stop at Quaker Park for restrooms and basking in the sunny, February warmth. We rolled into our driveway just a little over 25 hours after we had left.

Just like our trip over Labor Day weekend, we again enjoyed fun riding on quiet roads, sharing each other’s company, and a break from everyday cares and hassles. Neither Tipton or Lebanon, Indiana is likely to top anyone’s list as travel destinations. While grand adventures to dream locales are the daydreams that make everyday life go by, don’t overlook the simple pleasure of a quiet weekend full of riding with comfort food in a small Indiana town.
Sunning in February.