Jim Schroeder slipped a piece of candy into his mouth and sketched out my destiny while sitting outside a century-old confectionary in southern Indiana. We would ascend a series of hills before coasting into Bloomington, the midway point of our 122.5-mile bike trip, after cycling down country roads that could double as an airport runway.
“You will want to use your granny gear,” the experienced cyclist and Bloomington-based bike expert advised, alluding to the high gear commonly associated with Colorado rather than Indiana on steep ascents.
Assuming the Midwestern hills would be speed bumps by another name, I ignored his advice. My stubbornness would later come back to taunt me: I had to hop off my bike not once but three times for the push of shame.
“If you’d used your granny gear …” became his common refrain.
The route that Jim spent six years creating and rallying behind has a lot of vertical terrain in Indiana.
INDIANA Bike Routes:
“USBR 235 is for people who want to see more than soybean and cornfields and flat, flat, flat,” he said.
If it weren’t for the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS), a network of bike-friendly routes with international ambitions, the hills of southern Indiana could have remained a state secret. Jim’s alternate route from Indianapolis to Seymour was among the 18 itineraries announced by the Adventure Cycling Association in August, which spans five states. The new additions bring the total length of the web to 17,734 miles in 31 states and the District of Columbia.
UTAH Bike Routes:
The routes: The 349.8-mile USBR 77 moves away from the Idaho border and travels south to the Cache Valley, named after the first hunters to hide (“cacher” in French) their skins and provisions here. From Logan, a college town on the Logan River, cyclists pass the Wasatch Front and the small towns of Ogden, Salt Lake City and Provo.
The trail climbs to an altitude of more than 8,300 feet in the Fishlake National Forest, where the amoles form a halo around the state’s largest natural mountain lake. The trip ends at Torrey, the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park, and joins the USSR 70 from Cedar City to the Colorado border.
The 40.6-mile USBR 677 makes for a more scenic route along Lake Utah, a butterfly-winged freshwater lake. The 88.8-mile USBR 877 connects two other routes: USBR 77 in Sigurd, a small town with Danish roots, and 79 in Panguitch, northwest of Bryce Canyon National Park.
The 9.4-mile USBR 679 provides the missing link between USBR 70 in Duck Creek Village, a starting point for those going to national parks, and USBR 79, on Highway 89. L The 269.3-mile USBR 79 existed before this last round of additions, but stopped before the Arizona state line. Now, cyclists can travel the last few miles from Kanab, an outdoor adventure center and movie theater known as “Little Hollywood,” to the southern exit of Utah.