Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for January, 2007

Night ride

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

I had a terrible day at work yesterday, although I’m not going to go into that. Dave and Chris were planning to go ride at Brown County last night, and invited me to come. I wasn’t sure I’d be up for it. With the kind of day I had, I couldn’t decide whether I was too exhausted to ride, or if I needed to take out some of that negative energy on the trails. Ultimately, I decided it was the latter. This would also afford me the opportunity to try the light my mom got me for Christmas, a Cygolite Hi-Flux 100.

One thing I’ve noticed about night rides: I often don’t do them, or go reluctantly, because I feel like I won’t have very much fun or that I don’t really want to ride because it’s cold and dark, etc. But I always end up having fun — not once have I wished I didn’t go. Last night’s ride was no exception.

We started by the shelter up the hill from where we normally park, since the very bottom part is so muddy. Things were a bit muddy around where we started, but quickly improved. However, the trail conditions were the most uneven I’ve seen them. Usually, the trails at Brown County are almost completely in good shape or almost completely in bad shape. Last night, it was about a 60/40 good/bad ratio. No part was unrideable, although a few were close. I don’t mind riding in mud, but we probably did a bit more damage to the trails than I would’ve liked.

All in all, it really was a great ride, we were all struggling more than usual due to our lack of recent riding and the muddy conditions, but temperatures were good, in the lower 40s I’d guess, and if anything, we were a bit too warmly dressed. Nobody wiped out, despite the slick conditions, although we took our time.

My light worked great, it’s a bit brighter than the the LED mini-maglites. I mounted it on my handlebars, since it only comes with the handlebar mount. Sadly, between my bike computer and GPS mount, I’m running out of room on my handlebars, but I managed to get the light’s mount on there anyway. The battery pack is supposed to hang from the top tube, but I didn’t do that since it would’ve interfered with my brake/derailleur cables. Instead, I strapped it in my water bottle holder, which worked really well. I’m debating whether to continue using it in this manner, or order the helmet mount kit.

The light has a spotlight beam, but it comes with a lens to spread the light more, which I used. If anything, the beam could have been a little wider. It’s nice to have this flexibility. It also has high/low settings; I used the high setting, of course. Low would be fine if you were riding on the road and just wanted to be seen, but it’s not really enough light to see where you’re going.

The only real downside that I can see so far with this light is that it uses four C batteries. I don’t normally keep C batteries on hand, and they are pretty bulky/heavy. And of course, in order to carry an extra set of batteries, I’d be lugging 8 Cs around with me. That’s kind of a lot of weight. However, supposedly the 4 Cs last 25 hours, so if I had two sets of rechargeable batteries, I could probably get away with not carrying an extra set.

There was a full moon last night, and it was somewhat cloudy — but the clouds were dispersed enough that you could see the moon through them most of the time. We probably could have ridden by the light of the moon alone if we had to.

After the ride, we hung out for a few minutes. Chris brought some beer, so we each had one and we just chilled for a few minutes, successfully avoiding talking about work.

I’m more sore than I should be today, given that we only rode about 6 miles. But the mud meant using more power than usual, and I’m pretty out of shape now, so I guess that’s to be expected. I actually think being a little sore is a good feeling, a reminder of the ride that caused it.

Pyramid Ruins

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

As I mentioned previously, I found a Web site with some information about, and directions to the ruins of what was to be a 1/5-scale replica of the Great Pyramid of Cheops and a 650-foot copy of the Great Wall of China, both made of limestone. The project was started, but never finished.

Sarah and I went there on December 27 to check it out. What we found was a bit disappointing — pretty much just large piles of limestone, and the rusted trucks mentioned on the site above were nowhere to be found.

Still, we found one building we couldn’t identify — it seems to be some kind of barn-like structure, except that it doesn’t look like one. Maybe someone out there knows what its purpose might be:

Building

We did find some cool piles of limestone:
Piles

As well as a great view of the neighboring quarry. It really looked like a world of its own. I did an experiment with the Orton Method with this photo, and I kind of like the effect:
Quarry (Orton experiment)

Here’s a neat shot of the gravel drive that ran alongside the ruins:
Gravel drive

Finally, a Limestone and Rust abstract shot, for good measure:
Limestone and rust

Welcome to the future

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

There’s a post over on Squublog about life and time and whatnot that really got me thinking, so I think I’ll post some of my thoughts here. First, though, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. 2007 sure sounds futuristic to me, and it’s sort of hard to believe it’s here.

Squub hit on some interesting points, but this one part sums things up pretty well: “If I always knew when I was doing a thing for the last time I’d spend every minute sappily bemoaning the passing of an age. What if I could decide to be twenty four again and …”

Both these sentiments are things I’ve experienced in general, but particularly recently as a part of my quarter-life crisis. I’ve felt an increased sense of nostalgia, even for some aspects of the lowest points in my life. It’s so easy to only remember the good things and forget about the bad ones, or even to view the bad things in a good light in hindsight.

I think about when I lived in the ghetto, across a big fence from an all-but-abandoned apartment building where a crazy Jamaican guy named Dread lived. Dread constantly had a joint in his mouth. He had a ladyfriend on the south side, and a Jewish woman from Skokie would, for reasons I never understood, drive him to the south side to see her.

Sometimes, I even miss taking the El around Chicago, which was almost always an incredibly frustrating experience in practice. But trains are inherently cool, and being able to look at various neighborhoods — including many where you wouldn’t want to walk — from an elevated position was pretty cool. It was a fascinating cross section of city life. I tend to forget now about the bad parts: waiting 20 minutes for a train and watching three go by in the opposite direction while standing on a platform in -30 degree windchills, surrounded by shady characters and hipsters and mothers with four children and no father in sight.

It’s also interesting how you can reconnect with these experiences. Dread used to throw movies over the fence for me to borrow, without my asking for them. They always turned out to be terrible, such as The Perfect Fit, a movie about a couple who would kill for the perfect pair of blue jeans — in fact, the woman couldn’t get off otherwise. Then there was the one about a Jewish woman falling in love with a Nazi (described as a “chick flick” by Dread). But best of all was Contaminated Man, a “bio-thriller” that has to be seen to be believed. I can’t possibly do it justice, but Sarah got me a copy of Contaminated Man for Christmas, and even though the circumstances are completely different now, watching it still takes me back somewhat to the time Dread threw the movie at me from the balcony of the adjoining building, and Sarah and I watched it on the couch that my roommate Josh and I had struggled to haul up from the alley behind our apartment.

I was going to write more about nostalgia, but it’s not really necessary because even if I do feel some at times, I know that I’m much better off now. I’ve got the greatest woman in the world, a good job, I’m close to my family and in a beautiful place. I wouldn’t trade any of that to go back to any previous point in my life. But I will continue to think about the past and try to reconnect with it in some ways, whether it’s by watching ridiculous movies, listening to CDs I listened to at that time, riding my bike, or making occassional trips to the other places I’ve lived (this is something I haven’t done yet, but need to at some point).

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