Friday, March 22, 2013

Trails, touring and in-season cycling

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 11:29 AM

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The Spring Equinox is come and gone, yet the weather outside is still, for lack of a better term, shit cold. Those riders who didn't stick it out all winter are listening eagerly to the weatherman's forecast, hoping in vain for a hint of warmer weather. Soon enough they'll be dusting off their bicycle seats, airing up those tires and oiling their chains in anticipation of a weekend tour in the sun.

Honestly, I, myself am ready to do more than just commute back and forth to work. A long Saturday cycle up the Monon, a sunny ride along White River or a brunch-time tour to Broad Ripple are what I crave. Even a little jaunt around White River State Park would break my cabin fever. In anticipation of the glorious days of in-season cycling to come, here are my thoughts on my favorite touring trails.

1.Monon Trail: The Monon is good for straight shot north or south. Coming from downtown, I dread riding through the industrial (read: smelly) blocks of the Monon between 16th and Fall Creek. But once past Broad Ripple, the trail becomes shaded and cool, albeit packed to the hilt with dog-walkers, strollers and runners. Regardless, a ride up to Broad Ripple for brunch is just long enough to stretch my legs. If I'm feeling particularly bold, I'll push further north on the trail: past the Indianapolis Art Center, 86th Street, the Monon Community Center, the Center for the Performing Arts and beyond. The farthest I've trekked on the Monon is up to 146th Street from 13th. Maybe this summer I'll even make it to Westfield.

2.Indianapolis Cultural Trail: I ride the Indianapolis Cultural Trail daily to get to and from work, but I cannot wait to start exploring the new additions toward Fountain Square and beyond. Plus, I love a leisurely people-watching spin through downtown. If you're looking to stay downtown, but want to get some good exercise, I recommend doing a few laps around this lovely urban feature.

3.White River Trail: By far the White River Trail was my favorite discovery last summer. While riding it, I had my best wildlife encounters including a family of muskrats, a beaver, a bale of turtles and a flock of young goslings. With actual spring just days away, I'm wondering what creatures I'll chance upon this year.

4.Central Canal Towpath: The Central Canal Towpath offers access to two of the most stunning garden spaces in Indianapolis and passes through Indianapolis landmarks like Butler University, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the 100 Acres and Broad Ripple Village. This is a good trail for a picnic ride with friends or a solo meditation on nature. Beware though: it's a bit bumpy on the gravel path.

5.Fall Creek Trail: An offshoot on the Monon, the Fall Creek Trail is a winding path that follows along none other than Fall Creek (pretty obvious right?). This beautiful bikeway keeps me focused as I twist and turn my way through the cities' Northeast side. While riders must be careful of joggers on the narrow path, in general, Fall Creek is a relaxing and easy ride.

As I dream of the perfect riding day, I imagine a meditative ride up the White River, along the Canal Towpath and home on the Monon. Now if only the weather would cooperate.

How will you spend you're first perfect riding day? Share tips about your favorite touring trails below!

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