Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Adjusting to commuting; hitting the trails again

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

I’m still enjoying commuting by bicycle a lot, although I haven’t done it as much this week as I’d like. I worked from home yesterday, and attended a Microsoft workshop on architecture and design patterns in Indianpolis with a coworker on Tuesday.

In fact, I was driving somewhere with Sarah the other day, and there was a fair amount of traffic (by Bloomington’s standards) on Third Street. Sarah said something to the effect of “This is insane!” and I agreed. I was reminded of how I used to drive that way to and from work every day. It’s worst in the evening (more people go home from work than go to work in the first place, it seems), and I realized that I actually save time on my trip home by riding. It takes a little bit longer for me to get to work on the bike, so I had assumed that I was losing some time overall — but figuring in the time savings in the evening, I’m pretty sure I actually spend less time in transit.

I almost drove to work today, as I was running late, but I decided to ride anyway. I’m glad I did, because I was in a pretty weird mood this morning, and riding always makes me feel better. I waved to another guy on a bike — it turns out, he works at the bike shop where I got my bike. I am bad at recognizing people when they have their helmets on. But I had to go into the shop on my lunch, and he mentioned seeing me that morning. In the shop, I also ran into a consultant who built a site semi-related to the main one I work on — he was picking up his new bike. It’s cool how many people ride, and what a small world the cycling community is.

On Tuesday night, I finally did some mountain biking again; the last time I attempted to do so was February 11, and the last successful attempt was February 5. I had put some new tires on my mountain bike (a Kenda Nevegal in the rear and a Kenda Blue Groove in the front, both 2.1″ wide). They worked extremely well — my traction was excellent. I took some parts of the trail pretty fast, and I never felt the tires slip once. In fact, if anything, I think the Nevegal in the rear might be overkill — it felt like it was adding a lot of rolling resistance, and really I don’t mind a little slipping in the rear occasionally, so long as the front is solid.

I did pretty well, considering I hadn’t done any mountain biking for a while. I actually felt I wasn’t doing that well while I was riding, until I realized that I did the whole North Tower Loop without using my small chainring once, and I didn’t have to stop every half mile or so like I did when I was in terrible shape. The thing is, even when you are doing well, mountain biking is just a lot harder than road riding.

I ran into (not literally) a guy on the trail who had stopped to rest. I made sure he was OK, as he seemed pretty beat. He said he was about to bonk, and I offered him a Clif bar. He said he was OK, that he was trying to quit smoking. I told him how I did the exact same thing last year, and it worked great, and I encouraged him to stick with it.

The trails were in pretty good shape. There were only a few muddy spots, but those were messy. I got pretty muddy on this ride, even though 99% of the trail was dry. I like mud, though, and it’s nice to have something to show that I pedaled through the woods.

I struggled a bit with the Aynes climb, as always, but only had to stop once on the way up. It was particularly beautiful, and I took a couple of photos from the top. They didn’t turn out great, Sarah’s old digital camera didn’t capture how orange the sun looked — but it was still worthwhile. I rested for a few minutes and chatted with a guy who I talked to at the bottom of the hill a little. He beat me to the top, but was still there by the time I arrived.

Top of the Aynes
View from the top of the Aynes hill

The Aynes descent was a blast, as usual, and I made it back to the parking lot 10 trail miles and 100 smiles richer, a little bit before the sunset. I drove through the park on my way home, and saw another gorgeous scene. Again, the camera didn’t capture the orange that well, although this one is a little better.

Sun setting over Brown County
Sun setting over Brown County State Park

It felt so good to ride on the trails. I was starting to feel a little down on mountain biking, and just needed a trail ride to remind me of how great it is. Still, I’ll probably continue doing mostly road biking. My rationale the other day when deciding what kind of ride to do sums it up pretty well: I can drive for half an hour, ride 10 miles, barely finishing my ride before it gets dark, and then drive home 30 minutes in the dark. Or, I can ride 20 miles and be home and done before the sun sets.

I chose the road ride.

Still, when I can find time for it, mountain biking is a lot of fun, and a harder/different kind of workout.

3 Responses to “Adjusting to commuting; hitting the trails again”

  1. furiousball Says:

    Holy moly that’s beautiful. I need to ride this weekend, yogi will be mad with me, but I need to have some quality time with my bike.

  2. Marty Says:

    You know, I never think of rolling hills like that in Indiana … but it makes for a beautiful place to stop and reflect. You keep up posts like this, and I’ll have to pull my bike down and get it tuned up to go get muddy myself.

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