A VISIT TO THE HOME OF THE CLASSICS – AUBURN, INDIANA

Recently I rode my trike from my home in Fort Wayne up to Auburn, Indiana, known as “Home of the Classics” because of all the old classic cars that are found there often. There are museums, parades, auctions and displays of classic cars on the downtown streets.

The future Poka-Backe Trail is shown by red line in photo above.

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg  Museum (ACD Museum)(shown above) is well known. Visitors from all over the world come to Auburn to see it and the many classic cars that appear in Auburn at certain times of the year. The museum is located in the same building where they used to be sold. It has a second story also used to display  these collector cars. There are actually 3 automotive museums in Auburn. There used to be a 4th museum (Corvette Museum) as well as a WW2 museum. They are both gone now.

Auburn was once a manufacturing hub for early cars and, of course, the well known Auburn automobile was among them. Auburn was once called Little Detroit. Yes, Auburn has a very rich car history.

I know Auburn pretty well as I was born and raised there and in Garrett, an even smaller town about 5 miles southwest of Auburn. Auburn is a nice small town although it has grown considerably since I grew up there. With its growth has come a lot of changes and new things. One of those things is a bike trail known as the Rieke Park Trail   shown in red in the image below. The blue line is the Auburn-Waterloo Bike Path which will be used as part of the Poka-Backe Trail along with the Rieke Park Trail. Another part of it is the glorified sidewalk along Betz Rd. shown by  broken line.

I have known of its existence for a few years now but I had never been on it. In my recent posting about the Pufferbelly Trail here in Fort Wayne I talked about it being part of the future Poka-Bache Trail which is a rails to trail project and will be the longest in the state of Indiana … 81.3 miles going from near Bluffton to north of Angola to Pokagon State Park. It will pass right thru Auburn right in front of the ACD museum.

So yesterday I rode up to Auburn and rode in the stretts alongside of these wide “glorified sidewalks”) to check out what this future trail will offer. It connects to the Rieke Park Trail as part of the trail going up to Pokagon State Park. When I turned onto the Rieke Park Trail I was pleasantly surprised as it was as nice of a trail as I have seen or ridden on.

It is only 1.2 miles long however but it sure is nice. It had very smooth asphalt pavement and most of it is very well shaded. While there I encountered a woman out walking her dog and we struck up a conversation in which she told me about the nice paved trails available to ride on at the former Greenhurst golf course which is now called Greenhurst Park. She was referring to the golf cart paths. So after my ride on the Rieke Park Bike Path I rode on over to check out what she had told me about. In the image below Rieke Park Trail is shown in red. Another glorified sidewalk is shown in blue. The Auburn-Walterloo Bike Path is shown in yellow. Greenhurst Park is at the bottom of the yellow line.  The Auburn-Walterloo Bike Path is the continuing trail utilized for the Poka-Backe Trail going to Pokagon State Park.

I thoroughly enjoyed riding around Greenhurst Park on the former golf cart trails. It made the ride more worthwhile than just riding on the short Rieke Park Trail would have been.

Labor Day weekend is the busiest time for the Classic Cars so if you are interested in them it is a good time to come. Be warned however, the city becomes a very busy place. As a resident of Auburn it was always a good time to leave the area so I didn’t have to deal with it. I had my welding business there however and usually had  extra business welding on trails and the cars themselves. I once welded the broken off left front axle on a Mercedes Benz armored car that used to belong to Hitler. It was being auctioned off and I got called to go to the museum building to repair it. The armored car had a bullet hole in the bullet proof rear door  window.

I had a 58.6 mile ride on my trip up to Auburn and back. I ran both of my batteries down to the 20 % level. I just had enough battery to get back home. I turned the power down quite a bit of the time on my 2nd battery to conserve power in it.

BTW, I have ridden up to Auburn and Garrett on my trike about six time previously. It is true … you can never go back home. It is just not the same as I remember it and I never see anybody I know.

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THE PUFFERBELLY TRAIL

I thought I had written at least one article about the Pufferbelly Trail previously but upon doing a search I discovered I haven’t. I have talked about it a few times in various posts but I have never featured it. So guess what? Yep, I decided to do so now. The Pufferbelly Trail is an ongoing rails to trail project located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Nearly 7 miles of the Pufferbelly Trail have been constructed: 4.75 miles from Washington Center Rd. north to Life Bridge Church.  Another 2.25 miles is constructed from Lawton Park and Fourth St north to Lima Rd and Ice Way.  Eventually, this trail will extend from the northern edge of Allen County south 13 miles where it will connect with the Rivergreenway in downtown Fort Wayne.  The Pufferbelly Trail is one segment of a State Visionary Trail. When completed, the trail will be part of the Poka-Bache Connector, running from Ouabache State Park near Bluffton to Pokagon State Park north of Angola. This 81.3-mile connector trail will bring Steuben, Dekalb, Allen, and Wells counties communities together. This trail is a crucial part of the United Trails project in our region.

Although** I have not seen or heard of any of it being built other than about 7 miles here in Fort Wayne and Allen County our local trails manager tells me that about 50 % of the 81 miles is already complete. **Until just now I was unaware that anything has been done in Dekalb County north of Allen County. I was wrong. They have built a trail that goes right past where I used to live. It starts near the intersection of County Rd. 11A and County Rd. 56 goes alll the way into and thru  the city of Auburn (right past the Auburn-Cord- Dusenburg Automotive Museum). The trail connects to the Rieke Trail going north out of Auburn and will follow along Betz Rd. to connect to the pre-existing Auburn-Waterloo Trail. HERE is some information of the Steuben County plans.

In Allen County right now the Pufferbelly Trail ends  just a little ways north of Carroll Road at Life Bridge church. Life Bridge church has generously built a connecting trail over to their church and provided a trail head to park motor vehicles there for trail users. They have even built a pavilion near the trail for trail users to use.

Although there remains a few more miles of trail to be built to the north to reach the Allen County line where Dekalb Couny takes over the good news is the State of Indiana has pledged the funds needed to complete it. That being said it hasn’t been made available yet so construction has not started yet. I hope they get it built clear up to Pokagon State Park while I am still able to ride as I would love to attempt it. Fort Wayne is located about half way on the trail so it would be approximately a 40 mile ride to the northern end.

Right now the trail ends to the south at Washington Center Rd. There is a delay continuing it further south from there to connect to the next section they have already built. A major busy road (Indiana State Highway 930 otherwise known as Coliseum Blvd.) must be crossed which eventually a bridge over it is planned but that is many years off as it will be very expensive. Meanwhile the plan is to have the trail cross at ground level. I find that scary. It is very busy and very wide, especially at this planned location. I am told the crossing will be near Industrial Rd.

The map below shows the tuture planned trail route from Washington Center Rd. south across  Coliseum Blvd. and further south connecting to  the existing Pufferbelly Trail which goes right behind the Trek Bike Store making it very handy to cycle to. The Trek Bike Store is our local Catrike dealer.

I am sure many have already figured out where this trail got its name. Those who are old enough probably remember the popular childrens’ song …

Yep, steam engines, affectionately called “pufferbellies” used to operate on this railroad corridor. Thus the powers that be named it Pufferbelly Trail.

I had a little fun photo editing …

Years ago I read that this trail will eventually connect into a future east-west trail in northern Indiana … all part of the “visionary trail network” in Indiana. I see on the map that connecting trail will follow along Indiana State Highway 4 running northwest.

The Pufferbelly is a really nice trail … perhaps my favorite local trail. It is quite popular having more traffic on it than any other local trail. It also goes by Salomon Farms where another tradilhead is provided. Solomon Farms has a nice nearly 2 mile long trail around it which I always ride. Nice restrooms are available there.

Much of it is pretty well shaded which I always appreciate.

The trail passes under Dupont Rd., a busy 4 lane city road.

One of the trail extensions underway.

The trail as it crosses over W. State Blvd.

Some homeowners have the trail right in their back yard. How handy that would be.

I ride all year long as much as I can.

Riding north on undeveloped train track corridor.

Speaking of State Visionary Trails here is a map of future planned trails in NE Indiana …

 

There have been two incidents of trail users on bicycles getting hit by cars while attempting to cross the roads. The first one was killed. The most recently one was seriously injured. I haven’t heard any updates on her. Both of these happened the same way …  motorists stopped at the crosswalks to allow trail users to cross. They are not supposed to do this as it creates a very dangerous situation for trail users. They start to cross the trail and get hit by motor vehicles who are not stopping. In Indiana if there are  people already IN the crosswalk motor vehicles are required to stop and give them the right of way. But if they have not entered the crosswalk motor vehicles are not required to stop. Not only are they not required they are not suppose to because  this is what is happening. People need to get educated. If someone stops to let me cross I motion them to drive on. And I am finding more and more trail users are doing the same. Still, however, there are trail users who take off across the road. Just yesterday I saw a car stop to let trail users cross and a pick up truck went zooming around the stopped car. Fortunately the trail users had not attempted to cross. All of this I am sharing has been explained on the local TV news a few times but there still seems to be a lot of drivers who are not aware that they are not suppose to stop. I have written articles about these .two incidents .. https://tadpolerider.com/2022/03/07/trail-crossings-dont-become-a-victim/  and https://tadpolerider.com/2022/08/19/another-bicyclist-on-pufferbelly-trail-hit-by-car-at-road-crossing/.

Right now there is no practical way by bicycle  to get to the Pufferbelly Trail where it takes off north from Washington Center Rd.  I have a route I take but I end up riding down the the turning lane on Coldwater Rd. and the outside lane of Washington Center Rd. Most cyclists would not do that saying it is way too dangerous. Honestly I feel quite safe doing so and never have any issues with motor vehicles. I have the outside lane on Washington Center Rd. all to myself. A couple of days ago I was driving my car on Washington Center Rd. and spotted a guy on a tadpole trike riding in the outside lane. He turned off to ride on the Pufferbelly Trail. So I am not the only one who does this.

I just found this about the trail development in Dekalb County so now I know a little bit more about what has already been built in Dekalb County … https://www.co.dekalb.in.us/egov/documents/1626786696_485.pdf

BTW, I am originally from Dekalb County and know it well … probably better than I know Allen County where I live now.

If you ride on the Pufferbelly Trail be safe crossing the roads.

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STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES

assume I am not the only  one of us trike riders who deal with absolute stupidity on the part of trail users. I deal with it on a daily basis … several times a day. What am I talking about, you ask? Let me give you an example. I was out riding along a trail today going around a corner when suddenly right in front of me two females were walking on my side of the trail toward me. I had to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting them. I said to them “I can’t get over any farther” which I don’t think they even began to understand. I was as far over to the right as I could get riding on my side. The picture below is just for the purpose of illustration. It is not a real picture but one I put together. The two females are purposely blurred so they can’t be identified. The place on the trail was on a blind curve and well shaded so it was rather dark. As I came around the corner there they were right in front of me. As I said, I had to brake hard to keep from running into them. Stupid is as stupid does!

 

I can’t help but wonder if these people who do such stupid things like this do the same thing if and when they drive a car. I would hope not yet I can’t help but wonder why they would do it while walking. Stupid is as stupid does.

As bad as walkers and runners are I find the worst to be bicyclists. Most bicyclists ride in the center and even left of center and many of them meander all over the place. To make matters worse they pay absolutely no attention to whether or not any others are on the trail. If I am behind them they make it quite impossible to pass them. If they are coming toward me they often nearly collide with me riding over on my side not paying attention. Stupid is as stupid does. And that is really stupid.

And curves and hills don’t seem to matter to them. One would think that they would realize the danger and that the situation is an accident waiting to happen. Many times I have had to brake hard to avoid an accident. Sometimes I have had to ride off of the trail to avoid a collision.  Stupid is as stupid does. Are people really that stupid? Apparently they are.

I am sure we can all get along out there but it would be a lot easier if some would put more effort into doing their part. But stupid is as stupid does and it is what it is. Try to be safe out there.

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BICYCLE TRAILS I HAVE RIDDEN

With over 110,000 miles of trail riding most of them have been on my local trails here in Fort Wayne, Indiana where I live. I have however managed to ride on a few other trails … mostly in northern Indiana. Among them are: Angola Trail, Auburn Trail, Decatur Rivergreenway, Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Nickel Plate Trail, Panhandle Trail, Cardinal Greenway, and the Monon Trail. In Ohio I have ridden on the southernmost section of the Little Miami Scenic Trail. That is about it. It is certainly not a large number of trails. I know some riders have a huge number compared to me. I am just not in a position to travel about seeking out trails to ride like some do. Like I said, most of my trail riding is on my local trails. I will say this … I do know my local trails quite well … possibly better than anyone else who rides them.

I would love to ride on a lot more trails checking a new one out each day. If I were a rich man and not committed to my wife needing to be here for her I would be doing that very thing. I don’t know if anything will change once my wife retires. I am older than she is so I have been retired for a number of years. But you know, thinking about it I doubt very much if I would travel about to ride different trails and that is because I can’t sleep worth a darn in any bed other than my own. My body just can’t take it. So I have my answer … it ain’t gonna happen. I will just do my best to …

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