Cycling in Shipshewana Indiana

Cycling in Shipshewana, Indiana

Shipshewana Indiana offers wonderful cycling opportunities. North Central Indiana roads are flat to rolling, very lightly traveled, and easy to navigate. There are little towns to visit for food and water. You can visit Topeka, Middlebury, Goshen, Mongo, Howe, Honeyville, White Pigeon, Sturgis, and a host of other welcoming communities. The residents are happy to share the road with you. Bicycling transportation is common in this part of the country.

Amish Quilt in Shipshewana

Amish Quilt in Shipshewana
Amish Quilt in Shipshewana

Places to Visit

The entire north central Indiana region is oriented toward three industries: building RVs, farming, and tourism. Every little town has antique shops galore. You can always find someone to fill your water bottles or sell you a sandwich.

Amish businesses tend to be understated. Many are operated out of residences or outbuildings on family farms. You won't see huge glowing neon signs; look for small signs at intersections and even smaller signs at the tops of driveways. The larger businesses with dedicated structures will be more obvious, but don't miss out on the smaller less-traveled entrepreneurs.

Almost everything is closed on Sunday. Hotels and gas stations remain open, but not much else. Plan ahead. Shopping opportunities are nonexistent.

Navigation

For the most part the roads are laid out in a grid pattern. Intersections are typically arranged at 1 mile intervals. It's an engineer's paradise. When a lake or other natural feature disrupts the grid, it simply adds to the natural beauty of the region.

Roads are named (actually numbered) according to their relative position to the county seat. For example if you are on a road called 100N (100 North) then you are on an east-west road that is 1 mile North of a line running east-west through the center of the town of LaGrange. Shipshewana is in LaGrange County, at the intersection of 800W and 200N. The county seat, LaGrange, is at 00N and 00W.

Come Prepared

If you ride a mountain bike or hybrid, you can probably pick up spare parts at local bike shops. The good news is that bicycles are popular in this part of the country. Amish riders use bicycles for basic transportation. They tow trailers filled with groceries, sundries, and children. The bad news is that traditional road bikes are scarce. Don't expect to find aero spokes or 700X20 tubes at the Honeyville Bike Shop.

Downtown Shipshewana, Indiana
Downtown Shipshewana, Indiana
LaGrange, Indiana
LaGrange, Indiana
Nature Reserve in Mongo, Indiana
Nature Reserve in Mongo, Indiana
Mongo, Indiana
Mongo, Indiana
Howe Military Academy in Howe, Indiana
Howe Military Academy in Howe, Indiana
Howe Military Academy in Howe, Indiana
Howe Military Academy in Howe, Indiana
The Chapel at Howe Military Academy in Howe, Indiana
The Chapel at Howe Military Academy in Howe, Indiana
Downtown Shipshewana, Indiana
Downtown Shipshewana, Indiana
Middlebury, Indiana
Middlebury, Indiana
Downtown Shipshewana, Indiana
Downtown Shipshewana, Indiana
Downtown Shipshewana, Indiana
Downtown Shipshewana, Indiana
Rural Shipshewana, Indiana
Rural Shipshewana, Indiana
Middlebury, Indiana
Middlebury, Indiana

Condition of the Roads

Condition of the Roads

Roads in north central Indiana are mostly asphalt. Some chip and seal surfaces pop up, but they have no loose gravel and they are still relatively smooth. Infrequently a road will turn to loose gravel or gravel over asphalt for short sections. You can easily avoid these undesirable roads by turning around. There's always another road somewhere else. Once in a while a nicely paved road will end in unpaved loose gravel that's not at all inviting for skinny tires. Be prepared to back-track very infrequently.

Most of the main roads have a unique feature that you won't see in other parts of the country; a shoulder wide enough to accommodate a horse and buggy. The Amish community travels almost exclusively this way. As they move along at 10 miles per hour, they certainly need their own lane. Cyclists benefit from this lane also. A competent cyclist is usually comfortable with traffic whizzing by at 55 miles per hour as long as it's in a separate lane.

Many of the roads are decorated with 'local color', also referred to as 'road apples' or simply 'horse poop'. Horses towing buggies don't wear diapers. Be prepared to dodge and weave a little throughout your trip. Watch out for stray horseshoes as well.

Horse hooves will destroy asphalt in a hurry. Many of the roads are actually cupped in the center of the lane where the horses travel. Quite a few roads have special paving in the center of each lane, designed to resist the pounding hooves. This paving tends to be wonderfully smooth; seek it out and enjoy it. Just keep your eyes peeled for the road apples.

Almost without exception the roads are flat to rolling. Wind? Yes. A good 'wind' tip is to start your trip by riding into the wind, then enjoy the gentle push on your way back. In the warm weather, the wind is rarely excessive, but you will notice it sometimes.

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