In two day, June 15, 2019, a thousand riders will participate in the 20th Pumpkinvine Bike Ride. They will enjoy seeing the new colts in the fields, the beauty of the Indiana countryside and at some point in their ride, experience the shade and off-road safety of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. As they ride the Pumpkinvine, what they may overlook, is the work done to patch the cracks in the trail by Bob Carrico and his crew that results in a far smoother ride than would be the case if they hit a crack multiple time every mile.
Parts of the Pumpkinvine’s asphalt surface are now 20 years old, with the majority of the asphalt being 10 years old. In that time, freezing and thawing have created cracks in the surface of the asphalt that give bike riders a jolt. (The bumps caused by tree roots going under the trail are another issue.) Filling these cracks in a way that makes them smooth is labor intensive, and the local park departments that manage the trail do not have the staff to fill them.
Enter Bob Carrico, the Trail Operations Manager for the Friends of the Pumpkinvine. He has devised a system for filling the cracks that is so good most riders will never know they just passed over a filled crack. In the past month, Bob and his crew have filled every crack in the 16.5 miles of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail from Abshire Park in Goshen to County Road 850W in Shipshewana.
Every time I ride the Pumpkinvine I’m aware of this difference this crack sealing makes, i.e., how smooth they are. Unlike the patches I encounter on the road, which more often than not, substitute create a bump up where there was a bump down, Bob’s patches are smooth, the work of a cyclist who knows how much cyclists dislike bumps that are even a quarter inch high. This kind of patching takes time and patience, something Bob’s crew has in abundance.
So, anyone who rides the Pumpkinvine Bike Ride this weekend or locals who ride it year round, when you encounter a sealed crack, remember the effort and attention to detail that went into making your ride a lot smoother because of the dedication and skill of Bob Carrico.