The moon was a fingernail clipping before new in the pre-dawn morning as I rolled around the east side of Indy en route to Versailles State Park down Cincy way.  It was mid-November and the temps were to be up in the 60s.

It was my first trip down there, a long haul from Lafayette.  I arrived in need of  a toilet.  The one nearest the parking area was locked for the season. 

The air was chilly enough that I decided to scoot into tights in the driver’s seat and don a lightweight skull cap.  I squeezed some lube onto the chain and grabbed some tp from the trunk.

Starting out on the DINO 24-hour race loop, the sun beamed golden through the trees.  The trail wound steadily up hill, and away from view of incoming cars.

Business meeting adjourned.

A few miles later I came around a turn and into a short straight away and there off to my left he stood.  A regal 10+ point white-tailed deer turned his onyx eyes toward me in the orange-honey sunshine.

“Good morning, friend.”

Cliffside Trail is a bit precipitous, and has a technical spice that’ll keep any rider from getting too ego-ed up.  I reveled in those few minutes of having to focus with more intensity than the rolling trails thus far required.

Seating along the Cliffside Trail

the view from the seats

Not too far from finishing up, I crossed paths with another rider.  He was getting his miles in early, he said, because he was planning to be on the mower with a beer in the afternoon.

Thirteen or so miles later, I finished up.  I’d go back.

**********

Back on the road, I headed west in the direction of the route 7 turnoff for Columbus. 

Butlerville, Indiana sits along route 50, and if you’re not asleep at the wheel, you still might miss it.  I didn’t only because I was craving some fatty grub and my eyes were scanning the roadside.

A white cinder block local grocery and gas station sat on the left side of the road. It had no windows. 

I opened the door and was greeted with the smell of fried food and a warm hello from the lady behind the grill.

“Are you making breakfast?”

“Menu’s over on the counter.”  I glanced over at it.

“How about a bacon, egg and cheese.”

“White, wheat or biscuit.”

“Biscuit.”

“It’ll be a few minutes.”

Not a problem.  A handful of camo-clad hunters were grubbin’ too. 

“Any luck this morning fellas?”

“Not today.  Maybe next time.”

“If you’re allowed to hunt in Versailles State Park, there’s a big ol’ buck running around in there.  I saw him about an hour or so ago.  At least 10 points.”

“Really?!”

“Yep.”

We talked a little more about deer hunting, my Dad being a butcher and chopping up deer in the shed, hunting in PA. 

“Well…see y’all later.  I’m heading over to Brown County to ride next.”

“Nice day for it,” one of the hunters yelled as I walked out.

**********

If you like mountain biking and you like dessert, the trails at Brown County State Park are mountain biking dessert.  I rode ’em all but Schooner that afternoon.  

Indulgence.

The afternoon was still young, and the weather was a dandy.  I drove north on 65 towards Indy, not mtb-satisfied for the day.

I pulled into Town Run on the northside of the city and was met by a parking lot filled with fellow riders.  I changed, got the bike off the roof of the car, clipped into the pedals and was off.

Three-fourths of the way through the 7-8 miles of trail, I came around a blind corner and squeezed the brakes hard.  In the same instant, a spike buck deer sprung up into the air, all four hooves off the ground, and then landed, put its head down and then simply stood up, looked at me, and walked off the trail.  All of that was maybe five seconds of life.

Edge.

Three Indiana Trails.  Somewhere around 43 miles of dirt.  A road trip made possible by HMBA!

independent writer

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