Blink and winter will be here. It's time to take full advantage of fall and squeeze in as much quality time outdoors as possible. For me, that means time on a bike. There is no better ride this time of year than the city's first and most prized trail, the Monon Rail Trail. With a canopy of red, yellow, and orange that pops for a short window every year time is of the essence.
My challenge to you:
Before fall gives way to winter, ride the Monon from the north end in Westfield all the way to Downtown Indy.
As you'll see below, I recently did this ride to showcase what you're in for. We began at Greyhound Pass in Westfield which is not technically the northernmost point of the trial, but for purposes of parking it was ideal. At 16.1 very flat miles this ride is not a challenge fit only for extreme athletes. At a leisurely pace this can be accomplished in 1.5-2 hours.
- Main Street Carmel: You'll pass by Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream, home to the legendary Big Ugly Burger. You may want to hold off as consuming one of these monsters will make for a long and painful ride. Main Street itself is picturesque with shops, restaurants, and the lifelike statues that call this area home.
- The Center for Performing Arts: The towering Palladium theater is a hub of performing arts in Carmel. Artistic Director Michael Feinstein attracts top national theater, dance, and music permances. Local groups also perform at the Studio Theater and the Tarkington. Take in the architecture and views as you pass through this afluent community.
- Monon Center: With fitness facilities, one of the areas best waterparks, and a skatepark all situated on scenic land surrounded by trails the Monon Center is an early high point of the ride.
- Broad Ripple Village: You'll pass scenic bridges over the White River before making it to Broad Ripple. We stopped for coffee and a bite at Public Greens, a restaurant where 100% of proceeds go toward feeding and educating at-risk students in IPS schools. This stop wasn't merely for charity. Portland's famous Stumptown Coffee was served alongside organic pastries. Yum. Of course, Broad Ripple offers a lot of options for a pit stop, from a cold one at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub to a really cold one at Brics (Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station).
- Department of Public Words Mural: South of Broad Ripple you'll pass a long mural of a train. At first glance it seems straighforward enough. A train mural along a trail that used to be a train track. Look closer and you see positive messages drafted by the Indy's own Department of Public Words. If you need a little encouragement for your ride this mural is just what the doctor ordered.
- O'Bannon Park: Just north of downtown you'll pass O'Bannon Park, one of the largest recreational parks downtown. The old train caboose and soccer fields frame up a beautiful view of the skyline over the busy highway overpasses up ahead.
Get on your bike and get pedaling. If you still have energy keep it going as you connect to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail that traverses downtown. Make a point of getting out and getting moving while fall is at its peak. While you're at it, use this as a chance to explore Indy on the Monon Trail.