*the title and format of this post are inspired by the children’s book, Good News, Bad News, by Jeff Mack.
Good news! Beloved Mr. C. was diagnosed with colitis and was given the appropriate medicine for a speedy recovery, so we were able to enjoy his company before we left his town.
Bad news. We had to ride 55 miles to our next destination. You could have stuck a fork in us; Old Man and I were done by the end of it.
Good news! Grandma and her friends greeted our arrival, fed us well, and even indulged us with a lunch date the following day.
Bad news. We crossed the boundary for the Great Ice Age continental glacier that blessedly flattened out the northern half of Indiana, and are now officially in hill country created by its melting ice floods.
Good news! We stayed with Warm Showers hosts who are avid cyclists (even on a tandem!), who fed us well, comfortably accommodated us in their period-appropriate home (as only an American Folklore PhD could create), shared touring stories with us, and advised us on how to navigate their local hilly terrain, specifically to the local honey farm and beyond to Bloomington.
Bad news. A bridge was out on the way to the honey farm. The detour added 6 miles to our route and made us late for our scheduled tours.
Good news! The owners waited for us and we still got to do the barn tour and bee hive tours. All of us left more knowledgeable about honey bees and more appreciative of the fruits of their labor.
Bad news. The remaining distance to Bloomington nearly defeated us. We noticed our bike gears were beginning to slip, but since it had only been 1,000 miles since we got new cassettes (and the previous ones lasted over 2,000 miles), we figured we could easily eke out the remaining miles to the next bike shop with Old Man’s attentive tuning.
Good news! The next day we went to my cousin’s. They took us on a hayride around their property, their kids played and shared well with ours, and we enjoyed adult conversation after the kids were in bed.
Bad news. The steep hills continued.
Good news! We made it to Spring Mill State Park. We arrived in time to see the tail end of the Pioneer Village life that day with the potter, weaver, and miller.
Bad news. The remnants of Hurricane Irma arrived and rained on us.
Good news! Our schedule had room for a rest day, so we took the day off and stayed at Spring Mill, did homeschool, and checked out the Nature Center at the park.
Bad news. It was still raining the next day, and we had no more wiggle room for sitting it out.
Good news! We checked out the Grissom Memorial trying to will the rain to end before that day’s launch. Eventually, it reduced and we hit the road.
Bad news. More hills. Really steep ones. Our chains began slipping more.
Good news! Beautiful views abounded. Tango suggested that biking the hills are how we earn the tremendous views.
Bad news. Old Man uttered the words “catastrophic failure” to describe Eleanor. Somehow, the chain slipped, then jammed behind the cassette, bent the rear derailleur and broke a spoke.
Good news! After an hour and a half roadside, Old Man repaired Eleanor well enough to get us moving again. The Bigs rose to the occasion in our moment of crisis and read to the Littles so Old Man could focus on the repair.
Bad news. Eleanor could no longer operate in the first chain ring or change gears very responsively. We were on a winding, rollercoaster road without a shoulder with plenty of speedy rural road drivers. We could only attack the hills with difficult [for hills] gears, and pedal like hamsters on the flats.
Good news! Only 5.5 miles to go. The boys and I prayed that God would see us safely to our destination. The boys rallied and we surmounted the hills, even if ever so slowly.
Bad news. Frank’s relatively new chain broke at the top of a hill and mysteriously broke his front derailleur. No more getting out of the first chain ring for him.
Good news! As Old Man attended to Frank, a man pulled over to see if we needed help and offered Old Man some wipes for his greasy hands. He then followed us the remainder of the winding, rollercoaster road with his hazard lights on to prevent road racers from unwittingly crashing into our hoopties.
Bad news. The day was running incredibly long and we were worn out pedaling like hamsters.
Good news! We made it safely to our destination, got a hotel room, and went to a restaurant to try and salvage the remainder of the day and sate our monstrous appetites.
Bad news. We unwittingly transported a cluster of daddy longlegs into our hotel room (we mistakenly thought we had discharged all the campground’s overpopulated vagabonds on our tents and trailers), and only discovered this when they started crawling over my and Old Man’s heads as we tried to relax at the end of the evening.
Good news! We began our day rested and well-fed.
Bad news. There are no bike shops here. The closest well-stocked bike shop is in Bloomington (where we were a few days ago). Also, we promised Sissy cabin accommodations at Mammoth Caves National Parks for her birthday, which is remarkably booked up for this time of year, so we are without schedule flexibility, but have no bikes with which to achieve that destination and timeline or their own repairs.
Good news! There are U-haul trucks here, so Old Man drove the hoopties to Bloomington, tracked down the necessary parts at various bike shops, and dropped them off for their repairs.
Bad news. We are still without wheels. We are walking everywhere. Proof that there is a slower means of travel than bike touring with kids.
Good news! A future host, the mother of one of Old Man’s friends (who is an accomplished cyclist), is driving to pick us up tomorrow, putting us back on schedule for Sissy’s birthday accommodations! Tomorrow we pick up the rehabilitated bikes.