Eat, Pray, Bike Indiana: Central-East Indiana

Writer  /  Frieda Dowler

In early August, after a demanding spring/summer, it was time to balance body, soul, and spirit. They’re called one-tank trips, girlfriend getaways, and weekenders, but I call them peace-seeking adventures. An oxymoron, I know, but Melissa Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, advised globetrotting to find peace, a very successful oxymoron! However, Indiana offers opportunities to recharge at a fraction of the cost.

Peace, for me, begins with planning—seeking bike trails for exercising the body, great local food for the soul, and a quiet sanctuary to refresh the spirit. With Central-East Indiana as the destination, I looked to our state map, the Indiana Travel Guide, and the Internet.

Saturday we headed east on U.S. Route 40, steeped in history as the first federally funded highway, and approved by Congress in 1806. It was the first ocean-to-ocean route in the U.S., now ending in Park City, Utah. It crossed 12 states with seven state capitals along the route (three former and four current).

Notable in all 12 states are monuments erected by Daughters of the American Revolution, “Madonnas of the Trail,” celebrating the courage and faith of pioneer women who forged a new America in Conestoga wagons. Richmond’s monument was erected in 1928 and stands proudly at the entrance to Glen Miller Park.

The Richmond Rose Garden, our sanctuary for prayer, is in this 194-acre park. “Star” bricks immortalize names of loved ones and form pathways through 1,100 rose bushes, gazebos, fountains, and trellises. It was a gentle reminder that beauty blooms in spite of thorns.

Finding bicycle trailheads in the past has proven a challenge and this time was no exception. The official guide, Bicycle Indiana, does not always show exact locations. I recommend stopping at Welcome Centers for up-to-date information. With their help, we located the beginning of this 62-mile rail-trail to Muncie, cycling partway on a mostly wooded, paved trail. Thanks to Greenways Foundation and the Hoosier Rails to Trails Council for these trails that benefit all Hoosiers.

Food topped our weekend experience with excellent fare from the Molina family’s establishments. Galo’s Italian Grill delighted us in a Tuscan-inspired atmosphere with handcrafted, special selections of Osso Buco, cooked in wine and chicken stock, and Shrimp Risotto. It was food for the soul on a Saturday night.

Sunday started with breakfast at 5th Street Coffee & Bagels. A sun-dried tomato bagel, spread with olive cream cheese, topped with bacon, and served with Colombian Supreme, provided energy for cycling and an architectural walking tour of historic Richmond.

The staff at Old Richmond Inn perfectly prepared and served late Sunday lunch of Chicken Piccata. Serving fine food for 26 years, prepared by their world-renowned chef, Galo Molina, earned them “Worth the Drive,” one of 25 top restaurant destinations by Indianapolis Monthly magazine.

Satisfied in body, soul, and spirit, the drive across the serene countryside sealed our peace, at least until Monday morning.

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