Information about the world of cycling, including bicycle touring

One of the many covered bridges in Parke County.

One of the many covered bridges in Parke County.

Old Blue gets a rest at Stone Face.

"Old Blue" gets a rest at Stone Face, Ind.

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SUMMARY: TRIRI, the Touring Ride in Rural Indiana, gives a whole new level of meaning to the state song, "Back Home Again in Indiana." If you love rural and rustic scenery, America as it once was, you will enjoy the TRIRI rides. TRIRI covers different parts of the state from year to year. Generally, northern Indiana is flat, but southern Indiana can be very hilly.

RIDE WEB SITE:http://www.triri.org

TRIRI: 1994

Contrary to popular opinion, much of Indiana is not flat. Sure, the glaciers leveled out the northern half of the state, but things get much hillier between Indianapolis and Bloomington. After experiencing Indiana during the 1994 Hilly Hundred for the first time, I decided to try TRIRI.

I made it into Indianapolis two days early, mainly to visit my friends Jeff Herman and Mary Ann Rinehart. TRIRI headed out of downtown Indy on Sunday morning. I thought I had everything with me, but I discovered my tire pump wasn't on my bike. It was in my car, which was parked at Jeff's apartment. He agreed to meet me at the entrance of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to get me the pump. That gave me the chance to visit the museum, which made my dad happy because he was a big fan of the Indianapolis 500 and open-wheel racing. It was pretty fascinating to see the museum and to see how big a 2.5-mile race track really is. You have to see it to believe it.

By contrast, Turkey Run State Park, the stopping point for Sunday's ride, was in the middle of a pastoral Indiana scene. The park's located in Parke County, where most of Indiana's remaining covered bridges still stand, and we saw the first of many covered bridges at the park. Nearby Marshall was so quaint that it still has a sign that spans over the main street with the town's name on it.

Parke County's roads were rough, but seeing the covered bridges was worth the jarring ride on Monday. We finished that ride at Shakamak State Park, where the main attraction was a waterside that sure felt good. Things got hillier Tuesday on the way to McCormack's Creek State Park. We were getting closer to the area where Hilly Hundred is staged, so we knew it would be both scenic and ... well ... hilly. The ride got even hillier the next day as we went to Spring Hill State Park.

Indiana has a well-developed state park system, and many of the parks have comfortable resorts. Spring Hill also is home to an old milling village that is worth the visit.

Thursday was a free day to do what you wanted to do. You could stay put or go on circle routes ranging up to 100 miles. I chose the 60-miler, which included a tour of Marengo Cave, a trip through some of Indiana's Amish country and a stop at the Punkin Center, home to a wide variety of knickknacks, including an old county bridge. It was an old country store gone amok.

Friday's route took us to Brown County State Park, the largest in Indiana. Again, there were hills, but there also was an interesting old steel frame bridge along the way as well as an old-time mileage sign complete with a bust of a man in a community called Stone Face. I wonder where they found that name?

The finale took us from Brown County back to Indianapolis. The first part of the ride, which went through Nashville, was hilly, but things leveled out as we approached Indianapolis. With the wind at our backs, it was a great way to end the ride.

This was also the ride that convinced me that I needed to get a new bike with a triple chainring. I bought "Old Blue," a Cannondale R300 racing bike, in 1985 after my first BAMMI ride when I realized I would be a serious cyclist. It served me well, but it wasn't enough for me to handle the big hills.