Event takes cyclists across Indiana

Logging 60 miles on a Saturday morning is pretty routine for a group of Franklin cyclists who turn to their bikes for exercise, stress relief and a sense of accomplishment.

If they are hydrated, prepared and stay with their riding group, the cyclists won’t recognize a huge difference between, say, biking 60 miles or nearly three times that distance.

Maybe. Or is that wishful thinking?

Ask them on Sunday.

A group of Franklin cyclists organized through the Gray Goat Bicycle Co. shop downtown will be part of a 1,500-person ride across Indiana on Saturday. They’ll leave Terre Haute about 7 a.m. and head toward Richmond.

The Ride Across Indiana is a 20-year-old event organized by the Bloomington Bicycle Club that brings together riders of all ages and experience levels to complete what some might call a grueling tour of the state. The Franklin cyclists pull their energy from being organized through the Gray Goat shop, which they say has helped the city become more of a cycling community where riders can get help, pointers and support from each other.

The ride will be the longest that most of the 20 or so Franklin cyclists have participated in this year. The only difference between this and shorter practice rides: “You just hurt longer,” said Mike Kyle, an attorney who already knows that his left wrist will be aching.

Blazing heat? No big deal. Rain? Not a problem. Their top concern: Please don’t let there be a headwind; a tailwind would be nice.

At the end of the day, they’ll be able to say they’ve biked from one side of the state to another.

For the most part, the riders of all ages and experiences will travel in two rows, with other cyclists within inches to the front, back and side. They provide conversation, support and literal strength to complete the ride.

The front riders will create a draft that lets the riders further back in the group exert much less effort over the same distance. The Gray Goat cyclists will rotate who leads the pack so that everyone leads, and everyone rests.

“There is a pride to being able to pull the pack and being strong enough to do that,” Kyle said.

Gray Goat manager Brandon Street has organized the training rides and the shop provides any support the cyclists will need Saturday. Street will be among the riders.

The goal is to complete the ride without injuries, but the riders have individual and collective timing goals to put in 160 miles and make it to Earlham College in Richmond.

Franklin school superintendent David Clendening would like to be done in 11 hours, which will include riding time and several stops along the route, which mostly follows U.S. 40.

“Everybody wants to see everybody make it,” Clendening said. “You have to have miles on your feet and your body to make it. You will will hit the 100-mile mark and about have had enough. We can all do this together. It’s fun to be in that group.”

Dave Purk, a business analyst with Chase Bank who lives in Franklin, has put in 75- and 90-mile rides to train for Saturday, and hopes that will be enough to get him across the state. He’s been biking since the 1990s when he rode in the Little 500 at Indiana University.

Mike Taylor is a bit newer to the sport, having taken up riding last year at the encouragement of his sons, who lived across the country but had been on the Purdue University and Rose-Hulman cycling club teams. His sons got him into the sport, and they enjoyed biking together when they came to Indiana to visit.

Now both Adam and Ryan Taylor have moved back to central Indiana and the three will complete the RAIN ride with the Gray Goat group.

“This may be my first and last,” Mike Taylor said jokingly about his expectations of Saturday.

Up until last week he was debating whether to sign up. He decided it was a personal challenge to complete the event and put in 100 miles on Sunday to get ready.

“I’m the type — if I start something, I’m going to finish it,” he said. “Quitting is not an option for me.”

Franklin attorney Mike Auger has retired the bike racing of his youth and is now more of a touring rider, and he wants to be able to say he’s pedaled across the state in one day.

He completed the RAIN ride once before in 2013, and his main concern will be alleviating any pain from where the bike and the body come in contact. Auger cuts to the point: The saddle time is the thing, he said.

As the weekend approaches, they’ve cut back on their daily rides to be rested, are drinking more water and eating more carbs. They’ll meet family and friends at rest points along the way Saturday but won’t linger too long at any one spot until they cross the finish line.

“You just want to get it done,” Auger said.

Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mholtkamp@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2774.