Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A ride on the Nickel Plate Trail

The Nickel Plate is over 34 miles of trail.
For the third summer in a row, Linda and I made a trip north to ride the Nickel Plate Trail. This trail runs from Cassville, just north of Kokomo to Rochester, Indiana. In 2011 and 2012, we took our boys Tyler and Justin along to ride the southern and middle sections of the trail. For this year’s excursion, we invited some our cycling friends from a couple of different groups we belong to, with the intent of researching for a future larger outing.

A paved rail trail, the Nickel Plate parallels US 31. Rochester and Peru are the two largest towns on trail, while Denver Indiana, about 9 miles north of Peru, is a small four corner town that is also a trailhead. Crossing the two river valley, the Nickel Plate offers a variety of terrain, as you climb up out the river valley’s, and then off the bluffs onto the surrounding farmland. This also means there is always some shade coming up along the trail at any time of day to let you enjoy the any time of day.

For our latest outing, since we were unsure of Linda’s final miles, we set up a progressive start with our friends; we would meet 1 couple in Denver, about halfway up the trail. Another couple started and hour and a half before us in the morning from the southern end at Cassville. Our fourth couple started from the Lovers Lane (really!) trailhead north of Peru. This was all coordinated with texts, emails and few calls the day before and as we drove up. And it all worked out, the 8 of use arriving in Denver within in 10 minutes of each other.

Meeting our friends in Denver.
We all headed north from Denver for Rochester, currently the northern end of the trail. It was a beautiful day for riding, and overnight cool front having knocked down the heat and humidity from earlier in the week. After a short stretch of shaded grade out of Denver, it was easy rolling to Rochester, a 16 mile ride. A treat there was an additional mile and half of new trail not on the map, that took us right to the edge of town. From there it about about a mile of side streets to our lunch destination, the Streamliner restaurant, just off the classic town square.

We enjoyed a classic midwest lunch of cheese burgers and tenderloins before starting our run back down the trail. While by no means crowded, we did see other riders in almost every section of the trail throughout the day. After returning to Denver regrouped, and we all decided to head back down the trail to Peru, in the search of ice cream.
The Ultimate Tenderloin at the Streamliner 

The next 7 miles were were an easy grade up and through the river hills on the north side of the Wabash River and Peru. There is no trail through Peru yet, so we followed road markings into town. With a little help from Siri, and finally, a lot more help from a local police officer, we found Peru’s best ice shop, just a few blocks off the marked route through town.

After a well earned reward of sundaes and floats, we were back on the road for Denver, again going up and over the Wabash bluffs. Along the way were dropping off friends, before ending up back at out car with over 50 miles. It was a great day of riding, and well worth the drive.

Shady rest at the Lovers Lane Trailhead, Nickel Plate Trail

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