I am on my hands and knees along the side of the highway, precisely where I-65 North to Indy begins and where I-64 ends when traveling east from western Indiana, meaning I am on the side of the bend in the median of the exit.  The weeds that nearly poke me in the eyes are a deep green.  They smell a little like garlic, I think.  I am puking for the second time in an hour.

Rewind.

We arrived to O’Bannon Woods State Park in a timely manner after leaving Indy around 6:15 a.m.  Meeting up with another rider at a parking area in the campground, it wasn’t too long before we were heading out on the Adventure Hiking Trail (AHT), a 24 mile, or more, backpacking loop that a few years back was opened up to mountain biking.  Cutting through O’Bannon and part of Harrison-Crawford State Forest, AHT is a newer back country ride in the Midwest.

The initial going was on the wet/muddy side, but the tires rolled fairly well.  Following the green and white blazes was going fine as we wound down the hillsides and climbed straight back up, sometimes requiring hike-a-biking.

No Hoofin' Permitted

The humidity began to rise, as did my spirits as we moved around to the east side of the loop.  We navigated the logging areas with relative ease, and came upon a fun roller through the bottoms followed by a climb up to an enjoyable ridge line ride.  There were a few lookouts to the river below and another ridge across the way, which had me feeling like I was in a remote setting.  We pedaled into one of the back country shelters and ate some food.

View from the AHT

Though the going was slow with the endless ups and downs, and having to climb over and through downed trees, we progressed at a decent pace.  With each stop, though, we checked ourselves for ticks, picking them off in bunches of twos or threes or fives.

We continued on and came to another shelter with a beautiful stack-stone chimney:

Dreaming of Wood Oven Pizza

After the chimney admiring, we descended down the trail.  We then ascended.  And descended, and ascended.   Gnarley, rocky climbs requiring a lot of pushing the bike uphill and then carrying/sliding the bikes down nasty rocky-like gulches called backpacking trails began to annoy me.  Throw in downed trees and no real opportunity to get any cadence going, and the AHT was becoming a mental ass-kicker.

We stopped to grub a little.  I decided to eat a whole pack of orange energy chews shaped like little cubes.  I had never eaten all six at one time before that moment.  We had about seven or eight miles to go.  I swallowed some water and we moved on.

About thirty minutes later, I started to feel a little queasy.  I was minding the humidity more, and I knew I was probably on the dehydrated side of bodily fluid levels.  Still, my legs felt fine.

Some cross-country rocky sections were welcomed fun and games, taking my focus from my turning stomach.  Pushing on, we eventually came to the hard road that could be taken back to the parking area.  I immediately said I was taking it back to the car, nausea having set in.

It probably took about twenty minutes to get back to the car, but it felt like double that amount of time.  My gut was being rocked.  I wasn’t doing well.

Back at the car, I sat down in the parking lot.  Dizziness came on sudden, and the next thing I knew, I was announcing “I’m gonna puke.”  No announcement was necessary for the rest of the park.  When I puke, it’s loud!  Dry heaves followed by orange phlegm-like chunks in the watery mix was expelled from my system.

********

There’s a first time for everything, right?!  As I said after puking the second time by the side of the highway, “One for the ages!”   Lesson learned for me:  drink more water if ingesting a whole pack of those energy squares.  What’s funny is that as I was eating that pack, I commented about how they are my current favorite energy food because they don’t sit heavy in my stomach and seem to process easily.  Hah!

Regarding the AHT, it’s a dirty backwoods ride that requires patience and a willingness to accept losing elevation quickly after a long, laborious climb.

Next time, I’d like to ride it counter clockwise.

Friend of the Forest

independent writer

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