Off Road in the City (part2)….or Indianapolis #mtb trails.
August 25, 2013
This week’s biztravel involved meetings all day Wednesday in Indianapolis and more meetings on Thursday at our corporate headquarters in Chicago. I was driving down to Indy on Tuesday and back up to Chicago early Thursday morning. Decided for this trip, I’d bring one of my mountain bikes, my full suspension Trek Lush. Unfortunately, the trip didn’t allow me to travel the extra hour south to the mountain biking mecca of Brown County State Park. However, I knew from reading threads on the forums at mtbr.com that there were a couple of trails in the Indy metro area, and fairly close to the hotel I usually stay at when in town. An added bonus is that Tania Juillerat, co-owner of Sub-9 Productions and organizer of the Midwest Women’s Mountain Bike Clinic, lives in the Indianapolis area. Even better she was available to ride on Tuesday evening.
I fully credit my mountain biking to Tania. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had never met her, I would not be mountain biking. Period. Nor would I have the skills on a bike, any bike, that I do without her clinics. It is not possible for me to over praise the work she does bringing people (esp. women) into the sport of mountain biking, and being an advocate of BCSP, HMBA, IMBA……
Plus I just really like her.
For Tuesday nights’ ride Tania suggested we ride at Fort Ben, the two trail loops at Fort Harrison State Park on the east side of Indy. This is about an 8 mile trail system consisting of two loops. The original Schoen Creek loop and the newer Lawrence Creek loop. This year a connector has been opened between the two, allowing riders to easily combine to two into a single ride.
We began by parking near the main shelter and restrooms. Both to change into our bike shorts, and because there has been some smash and grab robberies out of cars in the more secluded trail parking areas. The Lawrence Creek loop was easily accessed via a short ride down a paved path. Both trails are fairly rocky, rooty with several log overs. Nothing too technical but between the rocks and such and the exposure to the ravine, more of an intermediate rider trail than Town Run (below).
Fort Ben reminded me much of Brown County, particularly the Lawrence Creek section. A bit more exposure than I am used to in Wisconsin (meaning the trail runs right along ravine drop offs, at times off camber). Nothing I can’t handle, but something I have to settle into. Tania naturally went into coach mode, reminding me to really look ahead on the sections with exposure, encouraging me to ride over the logs and through the rock gardens. The trails are well used by trail runners, hikers, and bikers with ped traffic going one way, bike the other. All groups were courteous to each other. And boy oh boy does Tania know everyone. We stopped several times to chat with other riders, Tania reminding them of future trail projects and work days, along with talking about the Brown County Breakdown in September.
Loved having an opportunity to ride with Tania, and afterward enjoyed a nice leisurely evening of dinner and beers getting caught up on family, all her projects and discussing how to get more women in mountain biking. Somehow despite having been to 5 clinics where Tania coached or organized (3 of hers and 2 at Rays), along with one of her race events, I had never ridden with Tania…barely had seen her on a bike. She spends so much time advocating for mountain biking, and works so hard at events helping other woman, that she doesn’t get to ride as much as I suspect she wishes she could.
Wednesday night, my meeting went late, and I was on my own to ride (versus riding Fort Ben again with Tania and her son). I wanted to give Town Run a ride knowing it sat literally behind my hotel (the X on both Strava screen shots). I’d been told there was a south trailhead off 82nd St. behind Bicycle Garage Indy (a bike shop) and headed first over there. New construction and retaining walls at the shopping center no longer allow access from the south. I headed north to find the north trailhead on 96th street. Drove by it a couple of times before I noticed the gravel road on the south side of 96th between Allisonville Road and Hazel Dell. Once I found the road to the park, I was surprised by the number of cars already parked in there. Lots of people out riding the trail. I got passed a couple of times, was aware of other riders, but never felt crowded or pushed for speed out on the trail.
Town Run Trail is a 7mile long hardpacked twisty fast flowy trail that utilizes going up down and around a river levee to create the speed and flow. Mostly smooth with some rocks and roots. Several man-made features from small log drops to a couple of larger drops, and a wall ride. All features has an easy line around them. In most places switchbacks and bermed turns take you up and over the levee, but there are a few spots of straight up and down the fall line. I enjoyed riding around this trail, would have loved to do a second loop if I’d had time.
The two trails are different, each fun. Would be great to have them both in my backyard to ride. Each brought smiles, challenged me in spots, made me whoop and holler in others. No doubt if I drive to Indy there will be a mountain bike along for the ride, even if I can’t get all the way down to Brown County State Park!