Jojo was in Terre Haute, and I took off early to explore the back country past the TC Steele home. I had mentioned McGowen Rd. to Fred at the Bike Garage, and he was sceptical that I could actually ride the road on my recumenbent. Truth is, I had to walk up when we first explored here. Then it occurred to me that if I rode down McGowen, it would not be so difficult, and I was right!
Full Picture Gallery of TC Steele-McGowen ride
As it was a quiet Sunday morning, I was able to safely ride straight out 3rd St. and SR 46, all the way to TC Steele Rd, about 12 miles from downtown, in less than an hour. I climbed the hill past the TC Steele home and studio, and continued to Gilmore Ridge.
I stayed on the ridge, passing the turn to McGowen Rd, and to my surprise, the gravel road became paved once again. I kept riding the ridge, and came to the crossroads, and took the hill down to the lake where the “Road Ends in Water” The road got rougher and rougher as I descended, turned to dirt near the bottom.
I was on the south shore of the lake, directly opposite of the Pine Grove ramp. We were at this same spot in January, when the lake was frozen and we rode over from the ramp. Last year at this time the area was out of the water and filled with thousands of lotus plants, this year it is totally flooded. I hung out for while listening to the birds and watching the fish leap into the air after insects.
I walked and then rode back up the hill (on Google maps is it called Friendship Rd., and I can see how it connected through the valley/lake to the current Friendship Rd. which ends at the north end of wildlife area. There was an incredible view of the valley on Gilmore Ridge, and the riding was quiet. I turned north on McGowen Rd. and quickly started downhill. I took this video part of the way down, but had to stop before getting to the bottom, I had to use both hands to stay on the gravel.
From there, the road (which on Google maps is called E. Rogers Rd, though I have also seen it named Eldridge as well, but at the other end it is always name McGowen) is all gravel, with most of it on the road. It winds in and out the little valleys, about a third of the way up the ridges east of Pine Grove. This is deep forest, with no one making noise but me, some woodpecker and the occasional squirrel.
I took a peek the DNR buildings and equipment west of the road, and then climbed the last little hill before arriving at the corner where the old Salt Creek bridge foundation is still visible. This is a favorite spot for yakkers to put into the creek, I’ve seen someone there both times I’ve come through this year. I hope to get to the other side (from Friendship Rd.) sometime soon (before it is closed for the season on Oct 1.) McGowen Road is open all year, but it was underwater all summer, and in winter the county does not maintain it (making it all that more attractive to me!).
I got back to Kent Rd, and then took SR 46 only to Getty’s Creek, the highway is much busier on Sunday afternoon. I rode on up to Kerr Creek Rd, and even though it is considered rough riding by most cyclists, I found it easy (and quiet) after a 12 miles on the gravel. I took a shot of my favorite bluff along the road, I have a shot of it in winter as well. Kerr Creek hill is always a challenge, quite steep, and long enough to wear you down, but I made it once again, climbing is much less stressful below 80 degrees!
Total miles were 32, but 12 were on gravel, so it felt more like 40 or more. But I never pushed hard except on the hills, and kept up with my eating and drinking, so I was nowhere near bonking. I saw a great blue heron along the shore of the lake, but otherwise, not much wildlife. The small yellow sunflowers are everywhere, I saw an occasional phlox or argeratum, and there were just a few trees turning color, very few.
All in all a great ride, I hope to do it again this fall and winter.
Gallery of TC Steele-McGowen ride