Saturday, August 15, 2015

Day 13: Denver to Lafayette IN (80 mi)

Today was off-the-map.
Not as in I'm biking to places unknown (I am), it's just that until now I followed a route from one of the dozen cycling maps I carry. Today was not one of those days. Today I trusted Google Maps.
This is where Google Maps put me.

Don't get me wrong, using Google Maps or even Apple's Map app can be incredibly useful, especially in navigating urban areas. 
It cannot, however, always be trusted with routing 80+ miles of rural Indiana, particularly with the bike function.
Maps is smart, but it's a computer program nonetheless. My guess is that the car function uses algorithms that find the shortest route time-wise, usually along highways. The walk function has the constraint of no highways or major roads, also preferential to walkways. The bike function is wild. It assumes you can get anywhere you'd otherwise walk (see above photo), and allows for most highways (just not some interstates). 
Needless to say, I left the woods with a good layer of mud on both myself and the bike.
Today was also the first day that I left my previous host without a real plan for the night. I had already contacted a couple potential hosts in Lafayette, so I figured by the time I reached town, one or both would respond with a "yes".

Instead I got one "sorry man, we're in Mexico right now" and one "bummer dude! Girlfriend's mom is sick so we have to leave town!"

So it was back to the drawing board in downtown Lafayette at 7 pm with a storm approaching. Think think think! 

I posted up near the fire station so that if no last-minute hosts were available, I could ask for some floor space and avoid the rain. Thankfully a Purdue graduate student was available on short-notice.

Malcolm studied computer engineering at the university, and now has a job working with cyberforensics there. He also used to work in a bike shop, and offered to help take apart and clean off the bike components caked with mud from my woods adventure.

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