Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for September, 2006

Aynes Loop

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

I rode the Aynes loop tonight. I took my time and rode at a nice leisurely pace, taking some photos along the way. Of course, I brought Sarah’s old digital camera with me, not one of our nice ones, and the photos really didn’t turn out. Part of the problem is that there just isn’t enough light back there, with all the trees. I’ll post some photos, even though they’re crappy.

Map/elevation profile

It had been a pretty crappy day, with quitting smoking being hard, and a headache and upset stomach earlier. I worked from home today — it’s nice to be able to do that sometimes.

Anyway, I had a nice low key ride — well, as low key as it can be, given the activity. I am starting to build up some endurance — I didn’t have to stop often to catch my breath. On the other hand, I did stop fairly frequently to take photos during the first half. I pretty much gave up on that during the second half — I just wanted to ride.

Obligatory bike shot

Part of the long climb in the Aynes Loop

I had a mishap at the point where Ken almost crashed on Saturday. We really had opposite problems. He caught too much air and almost ran into a tree. I didn’t jump enough and came down on my front wheel, throwing myself over the top of it in the process. Fortunately, I managed to land softly. I did throw one of my bar ends out of alignment.

View from the trail. Not one of the more scenic points in Brown County, but fairly typical terrain for this area.

I saw 6 deer on my ride, all does. I had a really cool experience with two of them as I was on my way back. I was riding on an easier section of trail, and saw these two deer. I was fairly close to them, within 20 feet or so. They watched me go by and started running with me! They stuck with me for about 15-20 seconds. We were going about the same speed, and since it was an easy section, I was able to look over at them, to find them looking back at me. I tried to stay as quiet as possible, not shifting or pedaling too hard, so I wouldn’t scare them away. It seemed to work fairly well, but once I had to shift, they ran away.

This is cheesy as hell, but I was really inspired by their grace. I try to ride as fluidly as possible in general, but riding with those deer, somehow the riding just came more naturally to me and I didn’t even have to think about it. Which was good, because I certainly wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have been.

I actually had a number of times tonight where I was able to ride by instinct. It’s always a great feeling when that happens. I’m also getting a lot better at anticipating what’s coming and shifting my weight to control the bike. Those things combined are starting to make for some extremely fun and less stressful riding.

An example of how the trail sometimes goes right to the edge.

Chainstipation and goodbye

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

The other day, Michael was complaining about how the chain on his bike gets bunched up a lot.

Michael: You know, they have a name for that.
Me: What?
Him: When your chain gets all bunched up.
Me: Ooooh! I hope it’s chainstipation!!
Him: No, it’s chainsuck.

This is the first time ever that someone else has come up with some dumb word dumber than my dumb word. On that note, I have a new blog called Sarahdigm Shift. I know, I know, it’s dorky. Although our idea for a joint blog was nice one, Michael writes almost exlcusively about adventuring, whereas I do not. Hopefully, he’ll eventually write about other things but at least now I won’t be cluttering up his biking badassery with my “heh, chainstipation” posts.

Nebo Ridge, Hesitation Point

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

Wow, I certainly shredded my legs this weekend! In addition to riding in the woods on Friday and the Aynes loop on Saturday, I rode at Nebo Ridge on Sunday with Dave, and Hesitation Point plus the North Tower Loop on Monday with Dave, Chris, and Ken.

Nebo Ridge was really awesome. I wasn’t really sure about it for the first few miles, as they consisted mostly of a big climb and then several descents and climbs followed that. There were some cool spots on ridges and some good downhills, but it got a little repetitive. There was a cool spot where the trail was surrounded by poison ivy — it made me kind of nervous, but I never realized how pretty poison ivy can be. It was really cool the way it moved with the air movement from our bikes.

(Note: this image links to a 4mb PNG with lots of detail)

Nebo Ridge map and Elevation Profile

Gently winding trail at Nebo Ridge. You can’t tell too well from this angle, but it goes down into a ravine and then back up here.

However, it got better, with more curves, technical obstacles, and better views. One thing I need to get better about is enjoying the scenery during these rides. It’s pretty hard when you’re blazing through there, but it would be worthwhile to stop more and enjoy the view.

A horrible photo, but you can sort of see how it drops off after the trail, and get some idea of the elevation.

Eventually, we got to a point where Dave said we could either go back the way we came, go over to the jeep road and go back that way, or finish the trail. I suggested we finish the trail, then take the road + the jeep road back. I’m really glad we did it that way, because the last 3-4 miles of the trail were definitely the best. There were still a bunch of hills, but once you built up some momentum, you could easily do the climbs. That section of trail is amazingly fast — we passed 30 mph, which is pretty fast for a bike in general, but really fast on a trail.

It was still somewhat technical, with switchbacks, and often dropoffs very close to the trail, so you had to be careful. There was another spot where all of a sudden we were in the pine forest — and it was immediately obvious, as all the trees were suddenly pines. It was a very abrupt transition, and surprising, but cool.

After we finished the trail, we noticed there’s a new parking lot at that end of it, where we might park sometime in the future.

We took a road to the jeep road, which we took back to the trail and got to do the final downhill even though we didn’t go all the way back on the trail. There was a tough climb on the jeep road, which Dave conquered without stopping. I had to walk past a couple of these ridges.

The jeep road climb — much harder than Dave made it look.

Monday’s ride was, well, more ambitious for me than I realized. We were supposed to ride at 8. I was running late, but I wasn’t the only one, so even though I got there at 8:30, I don’t think I held things up. At least, I didn’t hold anyone back until we started riding. I hadn’t ridden Hesitation Point before, and it starts with an awesome descent. I’m not sure how fast we got going there, because the GPS was acting up, but it was definitely even faster than I got going at Nebo Ridge. That’s one hell of a way to wake up! My eyes were watering from the wind, even though I had my glasses on.

Hesitation Point was every bit as difficult as I expected based on what I had heard, maybe moreso. The trail here is extremely narrow at times, and right on the side of a ravine. A small mistake would mean going over the edge, and it’s very steep and would be a long way to fall. The trail is so narrow that I sometimes had trouble pedaling because there isn’t enough room on the inside.

Don’t get me wrong, Hesitation Point was a hell of a lot of fun. It’s harrowing riding on such a narrow trail with nowhere to go, but there are a lot of fun switchbacks and some rocks and stuff to deal with, and despite its difficulty, it flows very well. Once you get down on solid ground, there are a bunch of cool creek crossings, and a place where you ride a bridge over the remains of a large fallen tree. I made it over that in both directions, which I think surprised everyone else, because it’s harder on the way back, when you’re going uphill, and I was just exhausted from all the other riding this weekend.

After Hesitation Point, we rode the North Tower Loop. It’s funny, the first time I rode that, I was thinking, they call *this* easy? Now I understand why — it’s a whole lot easier from the Aynes Loop and especially Hesitation Point. We had to ride back up Hesitation Point to our cars. By that time, I was really struggling. My legs just didn’t have much left in them.

Still, I got over one really hard place where the trail makes a tight turn, there’s a dropoff immediately on the left and not much more ground on the right, and at this point, you’re going uphill very slowly. I managed to keep myself relaxed, which was great because I pretty much just rode right through. A lot of times if you get too nervous or tense up, you’ll make a mistake. I’m getting better about that.

We also took a little detour to check out a new part of the trail they’re working on, which was cool, but I could have done without it at that point.

Here’s the map and profile — I had to guess at part of it because the GPS screwed up again.

I think that pretty much sums up my weekend of riding — wow! I’m still sore. But it was great, and it helps immensely with quitting smoking.

So the latest crazy idea is to sign up for the Epic ride sponsored by the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association:

I’m going to sign up for the 35-mile ride. I’m probably insane for even trying this! I’ll have to bike harder between now and then to prepare.

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