Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Fantastic weekend

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Sarah and I had a great weekend. On Saturday, we slept in, had lunch with my sister, and then went to the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. We mostly just drove around there, but we did stop at a cemetery there that’s notorious in this area for being haunted: Stepp Cemetery. We took some photos there. More on that later, once I post some photos.

I hadn’t been in that state forest for years, and I never spent much time there before. I think Stepp Cemetery is the only part of it I had been to. I definitely want to go back and do some hiking and possibly camping there. It’s more rugged and not as groomed as the state parks, so it feels more remote and I think we could connect with nature better there.

We debated what to do next, hiking was an option, but I really wanted to go for a bike ride. We ended up heading to Brown County State Park — I rode the North Tower Loop and the Aynes loop, and Sarah sat in the North Tower and read. I was worried she might get bored, but she really enjoys reading there, and needed to do some reading for class anyway. As she puts it (I’m paraphrasing here): “If you have to read, why not do it in a log cabin with a beautiful view?”

My ride was incredible. I was just flying, all these road miles pay off in ways that aren’t always obvious. But since I hadn’t ridden on the trails in almost a month, I felt a huge difference. I was climbing better than ever, and my average speed for the ride was about 7.8 … very fast for me for trail riding. The trail conditions were great, too, parts were so dry they were dusty. I am digging the new tires I’m running on my mountain bike, a Kenda Blue Groove on the front and a Nevegal on the rear. They grip very well, and I have more confidence in turns and whatnot. I might switch out the Nevegal for something a little less aggressive in the rear at some point, but for now I’m very satisfied. I had to hurry a bit toward the end of the ride, because the sun was setting and I didn’t have lights with me.

Sunday was another great day; I rode at Brown County again, this time with Dave. I had been planning a road ride one day this weekend, but my trail ride on Saturday felt so good that I wanted to do another one. Plus, I hadn’t ridden with Dave for a while. We had a great ride, although I was feeling Saturday’s ride more than I would’ve expected. Mountain biking really does take a lot more out of you. We kept a pretty good pace, although it was slower than Saturday’s. We took our time and took several breaks. It’s good to be out there and not be in a hurry.

On our way back to the parking lot, we saw a kid with a flat tire and tried to help him fix it. I had a pump, and we tried to see if we could just inflate the tire, but it definitely had a puncture. There wasn’t much we could do. The kid said his dad was around but went to ride some more.

When we got back to the parking lot, I saw a couple unloading some bikes, one with a child seat on the back of it. They asked if the “moderate” trail was a good one to take a baby on, and I immediately told them no. Dave agreed with me, but proceeded to tell them the part of the trail that is the flattest and smoothest. When he finished, I reiterated, “But I wouldn’t do it with a baby.” They didn’t listen. At least the baby had a helmet, but the parents weren’t wearing any, and their bikes were really insufficient for trail riding.

It always astounds me when I see people doing stuff like this. I’m glad they want to ride their bikes, and want to ride on trails, but I see a lot of people with inadequate bikes, not wearing helmets, simply being reckless. I’m not one of those guys who thinks everyone needs a $1000 bike (hell, I don’t have one myself), but still, the bikes you get at Wal-mart are not safe for mountain biking. And it’s one thing to take risks if you’re an adult, but putting children at risk is something else entirely. In this case, we’re talking about a baby on a mountain bike trail. These trails have rocks, roots, sticks, logs, and other hazards on them. We’re not talking rails-to-trails smoothness here. Even the “easy” trails are physically demanding and technically challenging. They’re no place for a baby.

Finally, we took Rob for a hike in the woods yesterday afternoon. I only took Sarah’s old point & shoot digital camera, so the shots aren’t great. Rob was a lot more into it this time around, and did more running and sniffing and checking things out. I tried to play fetch with him with a stick, but it couldn’t hold his interest. He really wanted to drink out of the pond, but it’s pretty nasty, and we stopped him.

Sniffing by the pond
Rob thinking about drinking from the pond

Rob loved running in the creek bed. I threw some sticks to get him to run, and while he didn’t fetch them, he did take them as a cue to run in that direction. He slipped a couple of times, but just loved splashing and getting wet and muddy.

Rob running in the creekbed
Running in the creek bed

The woods are really looking like spring, with lots of budding trees, green ground cover, some flowers and other things.

Fiddlehead
Fiddlehead ferns

Mayapples
Mayapples

Yellow flowers
Small yellow flowers that lined part of the trail

Again, we had a great hike. This was in “my woods” in the neighborhood where I grew up. Some parts of the trails are in pretty good shape, but others really need some TLC. I used to go mountain biking back there fairly frequently, I should do so again, even though there are only a couple of miles of suitable trails.

Rugged trail
Particularly rugged part of the trail with big protruding roots and erosion

I wish I knew how to fix the above section of trail. I suspect some of the roots aren’t doing any good anyway and could be cut out, and then maybe things would smooth out. But I don’t know the proper way to do it, and I don’t have any way of getting permission to work on these trails, as far as I know. Rumor has it they’re private property owned by John “Cougar” Mellencamp.

Sarah and I both have a renewed interest in hiking after all that, and we’re hoping to do more of it soon. We are thinking about possibly hiking with the Bloomington Hikers.

5 Responses to “Fantastic weekend”

  1. furiousball Says:

    Beautiful my man. Glad to see Rob playing and not intensely staring at something! Good call on keeping him out of the pond water, Yogi had horrible issues with Giardia from Bull Run Dog Park back in Austin. Dog Diarrhea is for real.

  2. John Says:

    Cross training is good. Time on the bike, time with the bride and time with the dog. Check, check, check.

  3. MRMacrum Says:

    When I raced both on and off road many years ago, I discovered the mutual benefits of each type of riding for the other. Mountain biking enhances handling skills and confidence on a raod bike. Road biking increases endurance, leg strength and pedaling technique for the mountain bike. I always advise a hard core rider do both. It becomes the best of both worlds.

    The bonehead parents with the baby – They are everywhere my friend. I see it all the time.

  4. Marty Says:

    This does sound like a fantastic weekend – great pictures of Rob having a great time. It\’s amazing how much fun they can have when there’s water involved, isn’t it?

  5. Jett Says:

    This is great stuff. I don’t have a mountain bike and this post has me beginning to wonder why.

    I’m sure the parents were intending to have fun, but I’m not sure that they would have. I know I would have way more fun if 1) I was familiar with the trails, 2) I had equipment I knew was suited for the ride, and 3) I didn’t have to worry about breaking my kids’ neck. I hope they find other ways to get out on the bikes until they have a little more time in the saddle.

    John, I like your crosstraining checklist. It’s an easy recipe for happiness and well-being.

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