The Pumpkinvine Bicycle Ride is a fund raiser for the Pumpkinvine Trail that runs through Goshen, Indiana. I've never ridden this before and I had been really looking forward to it. I registered the day of the ride, June 21, 2009, and was given number 786. Rumor has it that there were over 1,000 riders that day, 500 of which registered on the day of the ride. The ride offered routes of 10, 15, 26, 44, 67, 104 miles. I wasn't sure which route I was going to do, but it was either the 44 or 67 miles. Actually, due to construction the 44 mile route was modified to add 4 bonus miles.

It was pretty windy at the start, probably around 15 mph from the west when I headed out towards the east. The route start on the Pumpkinvine Trail for several miles before hitting the country roads. The trail is very nice, shaded, and offered nice protection against the wind. As I finished the first couple of miles I heard one kid asking his dad if they were almost done. I chuckled, not knowing that by the time my ride was nearing completion I'd be asking the same question!

Pumpkinvine Trail

On the way to Middlebury there were a few sections that headed back into the wind, and I was glad when this large bus came by on a cross-style bike and provided some shelter against the wind. Dude was full-sized and laying down some rubber. I gave up the draft after watching The Bus pull out in front of a car at an intersection approaching the first sag in Middlebury.

The Bus

At the sag I ran into Jim, Lynette and Suzanne and joined forces with them for most of the next stint. The wind was still pretty strong to our back as we headed toward Shipshewana. The good news was that it was still overcast so the temperature hadn't climbed much yet. Just after Shipshewana Lake I spotted a sign for the Chief Shipshewana monument. Everybody was just riding by it, but I decided not to pass that up. Told Lynette that I was going back to see it and maybe I'd see them later.

I'm glad I went back! There was someone from the Elkhard Historical Museum under an open tent near the monument who gave me some background on the chief and his connection with the infamous Trail of Death of the Potawatomi Indian tribe. You can read about it here. Another black spot for the white man. In addition she had a display of things that the Indians used to trade for, some actual wampum and some fur pelts including a really soft beaver pelt. Thanks to the Museum and their volunteer for the display - it was really interesting.

Chief Shipshewana Monument
Elkhart County Historical Museum display and volunteer

Another interesting site, and one of the last pictures I took on the ride, was this round cement barn just a half mile outside of Shipshewana. In town is a great Amish museum you really should see, and a very hot chicken man.

Round Barn he's everywhere, he's everywhere Amish Museum

I caught up with Jim, Lynette and Suzanne at the sag in Shipshewana. They were heading back on the 44/48 mile route, while I decided to try the 67. After going several miles on the 67 mile route, however, the sun made its first appearance of the day and quickly hotted up everything. A lot! And the wind got a little stronger too. So I decided to make a shortcut and get started back into the headwind. I'm not sure exactly how many miles of headwind pleasure I had, but I'm guessing around 20 or so. It was ok at first, then I really ran out of gas and the last miles were pretty difficult. This restricted caloric diet I'm trying really doesn't work well with longer distance riding!

I have to say that the worst part of the ride was on the return. Not the wind, not the heat, but the smell of the road IN the heat. Yeah, go ahead and laugh, but I just don't like riding through and having horse crap thrown up on me and my bike. It's horse crap folks, and while you're laughing, next time why not put a pile on your plate sometime and dig in. Damn, I about got sick from the smell of it all, mile after mile. I won't ever smell that again without thinking of this ride! But finally I got back to the Pumpkinvine Trail and got some shade and a welcome wind break again from the trees on the trail. And at the end I finally got that pie and ice cream that I'd been dreaming about for the past 10 miles. It was a great treat at the end of a long ride back on a hot day! For the day, 58 miles.

All in all, the Pumpkinvine Bike Ride is a nice, scenic ride with interesting scenery, a few rolling hills but mostly flat miles. The volunteers were great and the ride is very well organized. I'd certainly recommend it to riders of all abilities. Now, if they could only get some street sweepers to get those roads cleaned up...