Pit Stops

Trip Start Jun 04, 2011
Trip End Jul 26, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Indiana
Monday, July 11, 2011

This is Mark.  Stephen offered me an opportunity to be a guest contributor to his blog.  I'm thinking this is a little like Carson or Leno taking a vacation and I’m a first-time guest host.  Big shoes to fill, but I’ll try.

First, and foremost, today was Stephen’s 21st birthday.  I’d bet that very few young men spend their 21st birthday on a bicycle in the middle of a cross-country trek.  Fewer still with their dad and brother.  I woke up this morning before the alarm and surveyed the room.  In the still of that moment, it was wonderful just to look over into the other bed to see all 6'3" of Stephen's slumbering frame.   I reflected with thanksgiving on twenty-one years of being his father and my watching him grow up to be such a fine young man.  Where did the time go?

It’s been an incomparable experience for me this summer.  Being able to spend time with both of my boys has brought me much joy.  I realize that their lives are going to get much, much busier and that this is likely the last opportunity we’ll have to spend so much time together.  Every day, I wake up and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of time with my sons.

Like every other morning, however, the wake-up alarm goes off. My sentimental thoughts are interrupted.  And like soldiers responding to reveille, we begin what has become the routine preparation for another day on the saddle.  Suntan lotion goes on.  Heart rate sensor gets strapped on. We fill our water bottles, check the air in our tires, apply a glycerin-based lubricant (cleverly called Butt’r, thereby sparing you any guesswork in determining where it gets applied), wash up, eat our breakfast, load our luggage, check our route cue sheets, then start pedaling. 

Today was a comparatively short riding day, which was especially nice because it led up to a rest day in Indianapolis.  We left Crawfordsville around 7:15 and traveled east on US 136 through several small towns.  Thirty miles into our ride, we stopped at the Pittsboro UM Church for our first SAG (which is an acronym for Supplies And Gear) for fresh water and some food.  It was a hot and humid as we started our ride and it only got worse throughout the day, so the stops are welcome and necessary.  The pastor of the church, Dave Buckner, has welcomed this SAG for years, and each year he had expressed a desire to ride with the group some time.  This time Dave’s schedule allowed him to join us, so he jumped on his bike and continued with us to Indy.

About five miles farther down the road, we came to Brownsburg.  Here, we were treated to a factory tour of the C.F. Roark Welding and Engineering Company.  Founded by C.F. Roark, one of the "Greatest Generation," after his return from serving our country in WWII, this firm specializes in the fabrication of highly-engineered components for the military, commercial land-based gas turbine, and aerospace industries.  The plant and equipment were fascinating. 

Why visit this particular company you ask?  Well, somewhere between fabricating components for nuclear reactors in submarines and mixers for C-135 jet engines, they started developing high-end titanium bicycle frames!  We got a chance to see where they make these remarkably light and strong bikes. 

Mr. Roark, now 88, has handed the reins over to his son, but he still comes in every day.  To me, this company symbolizes the sort of businesses on which our country’s post-war industrial emergence was built.  He must be very proud of his legacy. 

Upon leaving the Roark plant, Stephen hopped on his bike and promptly got a flat.  It turned out his tire was ruined, so we had to replace it.  By the time we were back on the road, we were 25 minutes behind everyone else, so I diverged from the prescribed route that would have taken us north to a large park and continued instead down US 136 toward the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), the next stop on our itinerary.  Our new route took us by Indianapolis Raceway Park, home of anther form of racing, NHRA racing.  The gates were open, so we rode in and checked out the famous drag strip.

We didn’t spend much time at IMS.  Neither of the boys was interested in getting a tour of the track or a visit to the museum on the grounds of the speedway.  We continued our odyssey by riding to the Major Taylor Velodrome, an open-air 333.34-meter-long cycling track with 28-degree banked turns and 9-degree straights.

After signing a waiver, we were able to get on the track and experience a new kind of cycling.  At first, navigating the steep slopes is a bit unnerving, but after some practice it gets pretty fun!

From the velodrome, we quickly made tracks to our hotel in downtown Indianapolis.  When we walked in the lobby, we were greeted by Sarah and Martha.  They’d come over the night before to spend the evening and the following day with us. 

We went to the south side for a mini family reunion/birthday party for Stephen with cousins, aunts and uncles.  We were treated to some of my sister’s great cooking and my brother-in-law’s outstanding grilling. 

I think this pretty much wraps up the day.  It was different from most of our riding days, because we visited so many interesting venues.  It was outstanding, because we were able to celebrate Stephen’s birthday with our entire family and a good portion of our extended family.  I’m looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow.   I’m also looking forward to turning the blogging duties back to your regular host for the balance of the trip.

Distance: 63.7 mi - 2,794.60 total
Time: 04:18:25 - 188:11:22 total
Elevation Gain: 443 ft - 85,127 total
Av. Speed: 14.8 mph - 14.8 overall
Av. HR: 117 bpm - 126 overall
Calories: 4,228 - 182,855 total

Flat Tire Count:
Scott - 9
Stephen - 4
Mark - 2*

*under contention
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martha717 on

...and what a birthday- big fun with the family!!

cathren Cougill on

Hey you're going through C'ville and Indy today! Yeah!

Faith Cougill on

A late HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you, Stephen!!! :) It warms my heart that you were in Indianapolis yesterday for your special day. 21......wow.

Aunt Pam on

Happy Birthday --- guessing you got my text....late ~ but still heart-felt ! Doesn't seem like it was THAT many years ago I drove your Mom to the hospital...
Love ya !!

Aunt Sandy on

Bravo, Stephen, and a belated happy b-day. Mark, you're a natural writer - let's hear from Scott too. Martha thought you all looked wonderful. We can't wait to see you at Stormy.

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