Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for May, 2007

Pedaling around town together

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

I wanted to do some riding last night, and Sarah had been reading some children’s books about cycling and said she felt like going for a ride, too. I was happy that she said that because we’ve only ridden together a few times, and I always enjoy it (despite her insistence that it must be terrible since she’s slow and I can go fast). I can ride fast, but that doesn’t mean I always want to. I had also been looking for a good opportunity to ride my “new” 1960s Sears bike.

So, after I rode home from work and we took my mountain bike into the shop, we went back home and got ready to ride. I wanted to look for an Iron & Wine CD, The Creek Drank the Cradle, and wanted to see if Tracks, a record store downtown, had it. We also planned to go to Moe’s for dinner.

It was a fun ride at a fairly leisurely pace. Sarah did very well, better than the last time we rode. She gets a little daunted by hills sometimes, but then again, so do I. And climbing is something that gets easier with practice.

Sarah zooming down 7th Street

We had to take a bit of a detour because of some construction, but this let us go through a pretty part of campus with a creek and some bridges.

Sarah on campus


The old bike by the creek

I noticed the grips on that old bike were sort of disintegrating in my hands as we rode. I will need to replace them. We arrived at the record shop, locked our bikes, and wandered around in there for a few minutes. I found what I was looking for and another CD I wanted, and we headed back. Dinner was good, too. I think food tastes better when it’s a stop on a bike ride.

It was really fun riding around town together, and it even made running errands fun (if you can call buying CDs and eating dinner “errands”). We didn’t end up going to the grocery store, which we needed to do, but we can do that tonight. As I told Sarah later last night: I had really fun!

Old Sears bicycle, lots of mountain biking, LBS woes

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

We had a very full and fun holiday weekend. I didn’t even touch the road bike, but I did a lot of mountain biking.

Mountain Biking Brown County Saturday Morning

I decided to forgo riding with the Bloomington Bicycle Club on Saturday morning in favor of mountain biking with some of my riding buddies from work. Chris forgot his shoes and ended up riding in sandals.

Chris riding in the parking lot before the ride — in his sandals.

Chris: Do I win a Guinness award or something for mountain biking in sandals?
Me: Hmm, maybe a Darwin Award … (yes, I speak in hyperlinks)

We rode the North Tower Loop together, and they headed back while I rode the Aynes Loop. It was a great ride, Chris did better than I would’ve expected in his sandals, and I rode pretty well.

Sears Roebuck Bicycle

Saturday afternoon, Sarah and I went to this flea market we went to before so I could see if the guy had put a chain on one bicycle I wanted to ride. He hadn’t, and we were about to leave when another old bicycle really caught my attention. It was a real beauty, red with chrome fenders and a chrome rack on the back, even a light on the front. It had ridiculous bright orange makeshift mud flaps and a bright bicycle caution sign on the back. I took it for a test ride, and it worked surprisingly well.

Side view

The sign in the back

“I have a story to tell you about this bicycle,” the guy told me. “It used to belong to Johnny Bunch. Johnny was a messenger for Western Union. He put that sign on there to warn folks he was moving slow, and he went about his business. Johnny rode this bike all over making deliveries from 1965 all the way up through 1980 — And there it stands. Johnny passed away about three months ago. He used to live in my apartment complex, and I ended up with his bicycle.”

He sold it to me for $30.

Look at that designer chainring!

Another character came up and started admiring the bike, claiming the pedals alone must be worth three times what I paid for the bike. Yeah, right. He looked at the head badge on the bike, which reads “Sears Roebuck and Co.” and exclaimed, “Sears Roebuck, huh? That’s great! Although Sears really went to hell after Roebuck left.” I couldn’t argue with that point.

Sarah and I also stopped by the Bloomington Community Bicycle Project — what a cool place! There were probably 10 people out front working on bicycles. It took a few minutes to find a volunteer to tell me how things work there. You can take your bike there to work on it, they sell some bicycles, and have an attic full of bikes in various states of disrepair. If you fix one, it’s yours. Volunteers help keep things running and help people fix their bikes. I’ll probably take my new/old Sears bike over there soon to see if I can make some improvements. I haven’t been able to figure out what model or year this bike is, I e-mailed the National Bicycle History Archive of America to see if they can help me identify it.

Nebo Ridge ride on Sunday

Sunday morning, Dave and I went mountain biking at Nebo Ridge. Neither of us had ridden there since about October. It’s about an hour away, so we don’t get out there very often, but it’s always worth the trip. We met in Nashville, put my stuff in his truck and he drove the rest of the way. We stopped at Crouch’s Market to get some trail passes and saw some pretty crazy-looking characters outside. They seriously looked like civil war veterans, old and wrinkled with long grey beards and messed up teeth. We went inside and went to the counter and the old lady there asked us, “You fellas need bike trail passes?” We asked how she knew that, and she said that when a couple of handsome men come in there that’s usually what they’re looking for. I felt like she was pulling my leg, but then I remembered the characters outside and the fact that she knew exactly why we were there. We got annual passes, and Dave reassured her that we weren’t doing that so we wouldn’t have to stop at her shop in the future; we’d still stop there, just for other supplies. She felt reassured.

We continued on our way to Nebo Ridge, and saw a wild turkey and a dead snake in the road on our way there. Nebo Ridge starts with a difficult climb, but that really went quite well. However, I forgot how difficult it can be. The first half basically consists of 7 big descents and climbs. The descents are fun, but it still adds up to a lot of climbing. I made it up some steep and rocky climbs I had to walk in the past. There were trees down in a few places, and I jumped them pretty smoothly.

Once you get past all those climbs, things really get fun. It’s a really fast trail, but also windy, and there are a lot of roots and rocks to deal with, but you can really keep your speed up. There’s a part that goes through a pine forest, and then the last two miles or so are downhill. We rode to the end of the trail and took a break. Well, we didn’t do the last 1/4 mile of trail or so which simply goes down a huge hill, because we knew we’d just have to turn around and go back. You can go back on the trail or take some roads that reconnect with the trail later on. In the past, we’ve usually taken roads back, but we decided to take the trail back instead this time.

We started heading back, and of course in this direction, what was a 2-mile descent before turns into a 2-mile climb. In fact, there was a whole lot of climbing overall. But once we got past the halfway point, the part that was really hard on the way in became an absolute roller coaster with great downhill runs, banked turns, and still some difficult climbs, but we carried momentum through most of them.

It was the best ride I’ve done in a long time. It was pretty hard, and it was hot outside, but it was a blast. Dave and I were both riding really well, and we didn’t have any major mechanical problems. I did have to adjust my rear derailleur and saddle a bit, but that was no big deal.

LBS Woes

I do have a gripe with one LBS (Local Bike Shop), Revolution Bike & Bean. I went in there in search of a new saddle for my mountain bike after bending the one that came with the bike. I was interested in the WTB Saddle Trial program, where you can borrow a saddle for a while and test ride it on the trail. However, one of the guys there talked me into getting a Specialized Rival saddle instead. Specialized has no trial program, so I really can’t return it. He basically told me WTB is trying to copy the Specialized design, and the Specialized saddle is better. That may be true, but everybody’s butt is different, and this saddle just isn’t that comfortable to me. I do like that it’s smaller than my old one and gives me more maneuverability, but it isn’t comfortable.

I shouldn’t have let him talk me into the Specialized saddle, but I did. But now I’m dissatisfied and feel ripped off. Not only that, it seems either defective or poorly-assembled. The saddle is loose in the rails. I tried tightening the screws on the bottom of the saddle, but it didn’t seem to help. I hope I can get them to take it back even though he said they wouldn’t. He asked me to trust him and I did, but now I feel ripped off. And they might not be able to sell it as new now, but I think it’s defective anyway, and if they don’t screw with me, they’ll probably get a lot of business from me in the future. I hope they’ll make it right.

Hanging out with Sarah and riding the Sears bicycle

Anyway, Sarah and I took it easy Sunday afternoon and most of Monday. I did do a little work on the Sears bike on Monday, taking off the mud flaps and that caution sign and fixing a couple of other things. I took it for a ride around the neighborhood, and I had a lot of fun riding it. The bottom bracket (I think) needs some work, as it’s pretty noisy and inefficient. I’m sure most of its parts need lubrication. But I had a blast riding it.

Me riding the Sears bike (yes, I was too lazy to put actual shoes on)

We had a cookout with my family last night that was a lot of fun. We had bratwurst, beer, salad, jello … and later, ice cream. Sarah and I pretty much ignored our diet this weekend, and it was wonderful. She and I didn’t actually do much this weekend, but we did spend most of it together, and sometimes, that’s enough.

Shilo Road and Lake Griffy

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

I told Sarah last night that I need to figure out some new biking routes. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about cycling last week, and my rides over the weekend were good, but during the week, I basically do one of two routes almost every time I ride. I looked at some maps before I left to ride last night, but didn’t exactly settle on a route. I usually try to have a plan, but I decided to wing it this time.

I’m glad I did, because I had a really great ride, and I feel I should play it by ear more often. Part of what I like about bicycling in the first place is the sense of adventure it can give you — but that can get undermined by riding the same routes too much. Here’s a Bikely Route of my ride last night. The elevation profile is worth a look, too (Show menu -> Elevation Profile). You can see that the ride was basically in a figure 8 pattern.

My ride took me down one of the more notorious hills in this area, up some tough climbs on Shilo Road, by the Butler Winery, near Lake Lemon (but not close enough to actually see it), then west, by Lake Griffy, the IU stadium and part of campus, and then home. I saw two deer and three wild turkeys. I tried to get my camera out to photograph the turkeys, but they were a little alarmed that I was so close. One of them jerked his head up and looked at me, and his snood (the flap of skin under the beak) wobbled around. It was about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. Then, all three wild turkeys flew very awkwardly across the street to another field.

I only took a few photos, as I was a little pressed for time and I more or less just felt like riding. There are some things I’d like to photograph sometime, such as the winery and Lake Griffy. I had a really fun ride and want to do more exploratory rides in the future. This ride also made me realize that it would be relatively easy to make a route that goes to both Lake Lemon and Lake Griffy. Hell, I could probably throw in a trip to Lake Monroe, too. It would end up being a fairly long ride, but three lakes in one ride sounds nice to me.

Beanblossom Creek
Beanblossom Creek as seen from Shilo Road

Shilo Road Bridge
Shilo Road

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