Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for October, 2006

Mount Gilead

Friday, October 13th, 2006

I didn’t get my bike back yet. The chain ring did come in yesterday, but not until about 5:00. The shop closes at 6, so it was too late for them to put it on. I would’ve just picked it up and done it myself, but with the Epic coming up on Sunday, I can’t afford any mistakes.

So, I did another road ride last night on my old bike. This time, I took 45 out to Mount Gilead Road, and came back on 45, for a total of about 14 miles. It took almost exactly an hour.

Mt. Gilead Road is a cool place to ride. It’s pretty hilly, and has a strong middle-of-nowhere feeling. In parts, all you see are farms. That’s one thing that is really cool about this area. I can be at the mall in 5 minutes, at work in 10-15, and in the middle of nowhere in 10 minutes. I saw a number of horses and cows on people’s farms — no deer, although it was too early to expect to see deer. I tend to say hi to the horses and moo at the cows as I pass. Yes, I realize how ridiculous that is. One young cow seemed pretty interested in my bike. On my way back along 45, there was a dude going the other way on a John Deere tractor. I waved to him, and he waved back, although in hindsight, perhaps I should have mooed.

In all this mountain biking, I sort of forgot how great road riding can be. It’s really cool to be able to cover so much ground so quickly, and sometimes you actually get better scenery when road riding. This is in part because you are able to look around more — you don’t have to focus all of your concentration on just staying on a trail. But covering more ground allows you to go to more varied places, and a lot of times, you just can’t see that much from a trail due to all the trees.

On the other hand, dealing with drivers is no fun. The majority of them are courteous, but many just don’t know what to do when they see a bike. Sometimes, they will hang back, afraid to pass until I wave them by. Of course, in that situation, I want to be sure that I can see far ahead before I tell them to pass, to be sure no one is coming from the opposite direction. In other cases, they are extremely impatient and pass me too close for comfort.

At any rate, I definitely want to get a road bike sometime.

Winona Lake trails closed; road ride

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

The Winona Lake trails are screwed up due to the 24-hour race DINO held there. They are closed, and trying to find volunteers.

Here are more details:

“If you missed the 24 Hours of DINO, we had one of the most bizarre weekends of riding weather I can remember. Although the rains seemed to not want to leave, the riders braved the elements throughout the cooler evening and early morning temperatures to wake up to bright sunshine for the noon Sunday finish.

However, the 3 separate rain storms that came in on Saturday combined with several hours of mud riding did a number on our beloved trails. And the 3 consecutive days of steady rain this week hasn’t helped them dry out either.

Therefore, until further notice, we’re closing the trails until we can get a few days of sunshine to dry them out and some work days in to clean them up. The next couple weekends will be voluntary work days. Show up on your own will and help lend a hand.”

(From Winona Lake Trails Temporarily Closed for Repair)

This race was on September 30 – October 1. This post was on the 5th, and the trails are still closed.

I’ve been trying really hard not to look at what I call “elitist racer types” in a negative light, but I’m really struggling right now. While DJ’s antics on Sunday were merely an annoyance, this is something else entirely.

I’m amazed that these guys hold a 24-hour race and have dozens of riders on the trails for a whole day, even riding through the rain, and don’t bother to fix the damage they’ve caused. For the most part, most mountain bikers (myself included) try to avoid riding in the rain. Sometimes, it’s inevitable, it’ll start raining while you’re riding, or whatever. A few riders in the rain is no big deal, but dozens of them is another story. Those trails have been in shambles for weeks, and probably will never be the same again.

I realize that I’m probably not being completely fair. I’m sure many people who raced *will* help fix up the trails, but obviously not enough of them. Hell, I’d go help, except I am not going to be in the area.

This makes me wonder if I should ride the Epic (a) at all, and (b) if it rains. That’s being held by the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association, and I’m inclined to think they wouldn’t continue if too much damage was going to be done to the trails. After all, it’s their biggest fundraiser, and it would be pretty counter-productive if it destroyed their existing trails. Still, I’m not sure.

My bike is still in the shop. They ordered the wrong chain ring and had to order another, and I don’t really feel like picking my bike up, then taking it back and picking it up again once it’s fixed, so I’m just leaving it.

So, I bought some slicks yesterday to put on my old mountain bike so I could use it as a road bike. I think I’m going to return them; I rode my old bike on the road last night with its existing tires, and the thing is just too damn small for me. It also has a number of drivetrain problems that I’m not sure I want to screw around with. I rode about 13 miles in about an hour.

I rode State Road 45 out to Russell Road, took Russell until it intersected 45 again (it loops around), and then rode part of 45 and part of Mt. Gilead Rd. Next time, I want to ride Mt. Gilead in its entirety. I remember it having some huge hills that would be fun, and a great workout.

Training for epic

Monday, October 9th, 2006

I rode a total of about 33 miles over the weekend, in preparation for the Epic ride, which is next Sunday.

On Saturday, Dave and I rode all 3 trails at Brown County, including the new portion of the Hesitation Point trail. Dave was keeping a pretty quick pace — so I was pushing myself more than usual, but I think that’s for the better.

The North Tower Loop was pretty easy, and I did better than ever on the Aynes loop. Not only did I make it up the rocks I cleared for the first time on the previous ride, I also cleared the rock gardens following them, which I had never done before. I didn’t clear those rock gardens in any intelligent way — I pretty much just powered over the rocks — but at least I made it! In the future, I need to figure out a better line.

I sometimes forget how awesome the Hesitation Point trail is. There are so many fun switchbacks, dips, climbs, etc. The wooden bridge on HP is pretty awesome, too. I have mixed feelings about the new section. Overall, the new trail is amazing — it flows well, even though it’s fairly technical, and there are some pretty unique parts, like a strongly-banked turn where you really need some good momentum to get through.

However, there are some logs you have to jump, and a bunch of rock gardens or large isolated rocks. Since we were climbing, and I was already pretty exhausted from riding the whole trail system, and I’m not that good at technical stuff like that, I had a lot of trouble and ended up walking at several points. On one of the ones I attempted, I screwed up and crashed, hitting my leg on my bike frame pretty hard. It still hurts.

Over time, maybe I’ll learn to love those rock gardens, but I’m not sure. They break up the flow, and other than those, the trail flows incredibly well. These rock gardens are truly works of art — well-designed, well-built … but trying to ride over what basically amounts to a pile of rocks just isn’t very enjoyable for me.

I think we finished the whole Brown County trail system in about 3 hours.

On Sunday, I rode at Nebo ridge with Dave, Ken, and DJ. The Nebo Ridge trails were in great shape. Some parts seemed a little more rooted than I remembered, but that could have just been the fact that we were going faster than last time. The trails were quite dusty, which I wasn’t really expecting. I’ve never seen the Brown County trails that dusty, and Nebo wasn’t like that last time.

Nebo Ridge is so much fun to ride — once you get past the first couple of miles, it’s really just a roller coaster ride. There are climbs and descents, but overall, you’re pretty much flying the whole time.

I wanted to come back on the trail instead of Combs Road, but everyone else wanted to do Combs Road, which is the way things will go at the Epic. I thought about going back on the trail myself — which in retrospect, I kind of wish I had done, but I did get to see where the Hickory Ridge trails are this time, and the ride back was pretty good.

Overall, even given a 30 or 40-minute detour to see the Hickory Ridge trails, we finished everything 10 minutes faster than last time. That means we rode Nebo 40-50 minutes faster! Pretty damn good, if you ask me.

I’ll need to do more training this week. I am thinking that I probably won’t ride tonight, or at least won’t ride for too long, as my leg still hurts where I banged it on Sunday, and I could use some rest anyway. There may be a night ride at some point — if so, I’ll definitely need to buy some decent flashlights.

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