Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Running into an old friend; Foliage peak

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

On Saturday, I rode at Nebo Ridge. The leaves are finally reaching their peak colors; even a week before, things weren’t nearly as colorful. I wanted to ride Nebo since I didn’t get to in the Epic last weekend. The guys who rode 52 miles did. I was also determined to ride out and back on the trail, instead of taking the Combs Rd. alternate route back.

Climbing the first hill was really hard, as always, but I didn’t take much of a break, and was doing great after that. A few spots were a little muddy, but for the most part, it was pretty dry. There were several other bikers on the trail — I didn’t see any horseback riders or hunters.

Anyway, I was riding along through the doubletrack section and moved over as I passed some guys who were going the other way. I didn’t think much of it, but after I passed the first one, I heard “Michael?” I was pretty surprised — there are a lot of people who I kind of know from riding a lot, but for the most part, they wouldn’t know my name. At first, I thought it might be DJ, but I turned around and it definitely wasn’t. He was like “Do you know who I am?” I tried to figure it out, but couldn’t.

Then he took off his helmet and I immediately recognized him as John, a close friend who I’ve known forever but hadn’t seen in about 8 years — or at least, that’s what he said. I think I might’ve seen him a little bit more recently than that. Sarah later pointed out that John is pretty much my oldest friend — I’ve known him since before I moved to Bloomington, and I didn’t really keep in touch with anyone from Northbrook, where I lived before. (It’s funny I say that, because after not seeing John for 8 years, it’s hard to say I’ve kept in touch, but it sure doesn’t feel like it’s been that long!)

I met John a few months before I moved to Bloomington, which was in 6th grade (probably 1992). I was from suburban Chicago, pretty much a city boy. My dad had been down in Bloomington checking out schools and whatnot before the rest of us came here and had met John’s family at church. John has a brother, Jim, and two sisters, Janice and Mary. They lived out in the country.

I arrived at John’s house for the first time to find all the kids running around out in the woods, barefoot, swinging on a vine and generally being rowdy. I had never seen anything like this! John was pretty rough on Jim, probably hitting him a few times. At one point, John and Jim both swung on the vine across a small ravine, but it couldn’t hold both of them and broke, sending them tumbling to the ground. They got up and didn’t skip a beat.

All of this was completely overwhelming to me, and of course, this being my first impression, I figured all of Indiana must be like this. I was wrong about that part, but after we moved, it didn’t take long for me, the city slicker, to adapt to my new surroundings. Soon, I was romping through woods myself, some at the end of my street, in fact — although I preferred to keep my shoes on. I would say that my friendship with John played a big part in becoming better at hiking, exploring, etc.

The last time I had seen John, he wasn’t doing too well. I don’t want to go into detail, but his life was pretty messed up at that time, and I was concerned about him. I knew he had thought about joining the Air Force, but had no idea if that ever happened. I had been wondering if he got his act together.

So it was a complete surprise for me to run into him at Nebo Ridge. I’d never known him to do much bicycling, either, although I can’t say it surprises me to find him mountain biking. It turns out that John is living in Lafayette now, has a daughter, and is in school for something business-related. That’s pretty much all I learned in the brief time I talked to him, but he said he’ll be in town again in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, we can catch up more then. It was cool to see him, and things seem to be going a lot better for him now, which I am very glad to see.

Anyway, after I talked to John, I rode to the end of Nebo Ridge. There’s a huge hill at the very end that I didn’t ride down, because I didn’t see the point in riding down, only to have to turn around and ride back up. I messed around with Sarah’s old camera for a few minutes before I turned around.


Foliage at the end of the Nebo Ridge trail


I accidentally snapped photos a few times when trying to set up a shot of myself. Also notice the ridiculousness done to my hair by the vents in my helmet.


Trees casting shadows on fallen leaves


Distinguished.


The bike


Foliage and shadows

After that, I turned around and rode back. Nebo is a bit different in the other direction. Some parts are easier, and some are harder. There were a few more hills I had to walk up on the way back, even though I was doing particularly well at climbing, even with a bunch of rocks in the way at times. I did, however, have some shifting problems that were plaguing me. Pretty much the same problems I’ve had for a while — ugh!

All in all, I rode about 16 miles at Nebo Ridge, averaging 6 mph. That’s pretty good for me.

On Sunday, I rode the North Tower Loop and Hesitation Point trails at Brown County. It was pretty damn cold outside, maybe in the lower 40s, and fairly windy. I was freezing before I started riding. Fortunately, once I’d gone a ways, I started warming up. By the end of the ride I was actually hot, and I just wore my long-sleeved jersey, shorts, and knee warmers. I thought at first I’d need another layer, but that turned out not to be the case.

The North Tower Loop was pretty easy, as usual, and I rode it fairly quickly. I practiced shifting my weight and putting pressure on the outside pedal in turns to try to maximize traction. I rode a bit faster than usual, probably, but still didn’t go super fast most of the time.

After that, I debated whether to ride the Aynes Loop or Hesitation Point, and decided to go with Hesitation Point. I need more practice on HP, and it has the benefit of that spectacular view at the top. I took some more photos along the way.


Part of the Hesitation Point trail


A particularly difficult switchback on HP. Harder than it looks in this photo, and it’s hard to tell here how tight the turn is and how if you tried to turn too wide, you’d fall right down the ravine.

I did pretty well on the bulk of HP, but once again got rather frustrated once I got to the new part of the trail. First of all, it was a bit wet compared to the rest of the trail, which I think is only normal for such a new trail. Also, some of the bench cut seems to me to be angled down a bit too much, so sometimes I feel afraid that I’ll slide off the hill sideways. I really need to build up my confidence; I know that in reality, that’s not going to happen, but it is nerve-wracking.

I started to notice that if I kept my speed up, I could clear a lot of the obstacles on the new section a lot easier. However, keeping your speed up isn’t always easy, as you are climbing the whole way, and if you make one mistake and have to stop, it’s really difficult to get going again. I did the best I’ve ever done on this part of the trail, but still had considerable trouble.

There are some things I think I may never be able to clear.


You want me to do WHAT?!? This isn’t even the hardest-looking rock garden there …

I made it to the top, to be greeted with this view!


Hesitation Point in all its glory

The trip down was fairly uneventful, I took the fire road as far as I could in the interest of time. I wanted to get home to pick Sarah up, as I had promised her I’d take her out to Brown County after my ride to see the foliage. My ride ended up being a bit over 12 miles, with me averaging about 5.8 mph — not as good as Saturday, but there was some pretty hard stuff in there.

Sarah and I went to Brown County and took Sarah’s sister, Rachel, with us. She hadn’t been out there before, and she really enjoyed it. It’s hard not to. Rachel also took the greatest photo of Sarah and me!

One Response to “Running into an old friend; Foliage peak”

  1. furiousBall Says:

    I can’t wait for my bike, there’s a little website I’m doing for a Medford Lakes mobile bicycle repair guy and he pays me with bikes for me and my kids.

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