Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for May, 2007

Riding Home on 45

Friday, May 11th, 2007

I rode last night, intending to ride Mount Gilead Road and considering tacking on a quick extension down to Lake Lemon. I thought about taking Tunnel Road down to the Riddle Point Park area, a private park that isn’t too far from State Road 45, where I would be anyway.

After riding the Mount Gilead Road part, I turned onto Tunnel Road and rode a bit on that. However, I changed my mind and turned onto South Shore Drive instead of following Tunnel to the park. South Shore goes right by the lake, even going across the lake for part of it (it has a causeway). I didn’t plan on riding all the way across the lake, but once I got started, there weren’t really any good places to get back to the highway. Well, that and I was just having too much fun, and the lake is really beautiful.

I stopped and took some photos, hoping to make a couple of panoramic images. The first one didn’t turn out that well, as I couldn’t get some of the power lines and road stripes to line up, and the difference in waves on part of the water are very apparent. However, I’m going to post it anyway, as it gives you a bit of an idea what it feels like riding across the lake.

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Part of the view as you ride across Lake Lemon

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This train trestle can be seen in the above photo, but I thought it deserved its own panoramic shot

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Another shot of the causeway across Lake Lemon

I had ridden across the causeway before, but it had been a while, and I went across in the opposite direction before. This area is actually not as far by bicycle as I realized, I’ll have to ride there more often.

The way back was a little grueling, as State Road 45 climbs for approximately forever as it goes through part of Yellowwood State Forest. In fact, a couple of times it levels out or even sends you downhill a little bit, but almost immediately starts climbing again. I’d probably do better to go the opposite direction, taking 45 out and South Shore back. I’d still have a big climb, but it wouldn’t be drawn out over such a long distance.

I had some Richard Buckner song in my head through much of the ride. I am not sure which song. Sarah and I have listened to a lot of Richard Buckner while driving through that area. He has some song with a line “… that stretch of 99 / that’s claimed so many lives / one of them was mine.” That line always sticks with me for some reason, even if the hope is for a safe journey.

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Unionville Post Office

Sarah and I love this little post office. I wish I had taken a better photo, but I wanted to take this for her because we’ve talking about photographing it for a while. We have also talked about photographing post offices as a matter of habit, because a lot of towns around here have interesting post offices. I think you can learn a lot about a town from its post office.

I said something to Sarah about “riding home on 45” when I was telling her about my ride, and she thought that sounded like a song title. Maybe someday, it will be.

Here’s a Bikely Route of my ride. It was a bit over 26 miles. When I got home, Sarah had her delicious white chili waiting … oh my god, that stuff is delicious.

Panorama attempts, cycling updates

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Cycling

It’s getting a little warm here, not too hot yet, but the humidity can be killer. Even in the morning when it’s only in the 60s or 70s, I work up more of a sweat than I should in the under-three-mile ride to work. If anyone wants to offer any tips for staying cool when biking in humid weather, I’d love to hear them.

IU has let out for the summer, so most of the students are gone. Bloomington is a very different town without the students — it’s much quieter and feels more like the small town that it is. The only real downside is that many businesses aren’t open as late when the students aren’t here, but that’s not a big deal.

Oh, and there’s more road construction, too, and some particular work has forced me to ride through campus on sidewalks for a small distance. The first day I discovered that road work, I ended up taking a route that went pretty far out of the way. Bloomington has something of a transportational black hole around campus. There are no through streets between 3rd and 10th streets, except 7th, which is where I normally ride … and you can’t drive through part of 7th, you can only walk or ride a bicycle. When I first discovered the construction, I ended up going south of 3rd Street, which was a completely stupid way to go. Now, I just ride through campus on sidewalks/paths. It’s legal, and there aren’t many pedestrians or other cyclists now that the students are gone. It’s also pretty. No complaints here.

I rode the Water Works ride the other day and saw more cyclists in that ride than I ever have. I was pretty surprised, figuring that with the students gone, there would be fewer people riding. I guess the beautiful weather brought out more cyclists than were lost when IU classes let out. I think I saw one of the Bloomington Bicycle Club guys riding the other way, but the sun was in my eyes, and it was hard to see.

Panoramic Photos

During our hike at Yellowwood State Forest on Sunday, I tried to do some panoramic photos, inspired by the ones Jett posts on his Atlanta Intown Cycling Blog. My camera doesn’t have a panorama assist mode, but I tried using a program called PTgui to perform the “stitching.” It seems like a good program, it messed up a bit on one of them, but I think that’s probably my fault.

Yellowwood Lake
Yellowwood Lake – A great place for a picnic.

Sarah on Scarce o' Fat Trail
Sarah on the Scarce o’ Fat trail

Scarce o' Fat decision point
Decisions, decisions …

The last one is where we followed our instincts and went to the right, then second-guessed ourselves and went back and took the left side, and then had to go back again and go right like we started to do in the first place. It was also right near there that we saw the snake.

Paragon, High King, and Scarce o’ Fat

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Our weekends have just been getting better and better. We’ve really lucked out and had great weather to be outdoors. This past weekend, I rode again with the Bloomington Bicycle Club (“BBC”), and Sarah and I hiked the High King and Scarce o’ Fat trails at Yellowwood State Forest.

Cycling to Paragon

I was a little unsure whether to ride with the BBC on Saturday morning. There was rain in the forecast, and when I woke up, it was overcast, but it didn’t look too threatening. There was also a pretty good layer of fog covering everything. I decided to go for it, and I’m glad I did, because the rain never came. I got ready and rode over to the meeting place, the Bryan Park Pool parking lot. The ride went to Paragon, IN, a very small town around 20 miles north of Bloomington, and a bit to the west, and back.

It was a beautiful ride, especially with the fog, until the sun burned it away. We took a lot of remote roads through various wooded areas and by farms, etc.

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A field on the way to Paragon

I’m getting better at riding in a group, but I still have a lot to learn. I’m getting more comfortable with riding so close to other riders, drafting, etc. Sometimes it’s a little baffling trying to keep track of what’s going on, as we usually ride two abreast, and people have to dodge various obstacles … potholes, sticks, rocks, rough pavement, etc., and most of us will point out these obstacles to the cyclists behind us and announce “rock!” to warn the others, etc.

This means that the two lines of bikes move almost like a snake, the riders in front moving out to avoid an obstacle, and the others following. Also, people in the group regularly pass each other or fall back, so you never know who will be in front of you, behind you, or next to you at any given moment — and it happens so smoothly that sometimes you almost don’t even notice.

We saw a couple of turtles crossing the road in different places (I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere), and it was pretty funny to see someone point and yell “turtle!” The warnings were helpful, but in a way, it felt like being in elementary school all over again.

Our first break was at the Mount Pleasant Church (I think), and there was a dog wandering around with no apparent owner. He seemed friendly, though, and one of the other guys pet him a little bit. When I stopped, the dog made a beeline for me … he must have smelled Rob. I pet the dog for a little bit and snapped a photo of the church and cemetery. I noticed some of the gravestones read, “Acuff,” and there’s an Acuff Road not too far from where we were.

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Mount Pleasant Church (I think)

Those are the only photos I took on this ride; one disadvantage to riding with a club is that it’s not conducive to photography. But from a riding perspective, it was great. I even lead the group for a little while, although I wasn’t sure how fast to go. I tried to keep the pace they had been keeping, but then the rest of the group fell behind. I slowed down, and they caught up with me, but then I thought that I was going too slow.

We took another break when we got to Paragon and went to a gas station to get some additional snacks and fluids, but for some reason ended up going to the other Paragon gas station, which was about two blocks away. It was a really small town, but pretty quaint. I enjoyed what I saw of it, which admittedly wasn’t much.

We rode back by way of Old State Road 37, going by the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. This part of the ride was more familiar to me. All told, I rode 51.3 miles. I think I’m going to join the BBC. The social aspect of it isn’t really what I had hoped, but the rides are great, and they come up with routes I would never think of. There was one pretty cool guy, Wade, who rode with the BBC for the first time, and I’m hoping he’ll come back.

Hiking the High King and Scarce o’ Fat trails, and a picnic

Sarah and I had planned to hike the Scarce o’ Fat trail at Yellowwood State Forest on Sunday. I took quite a few photos on this hike, but I’ll put them at the end of this post as a PhotoBucket “remix.” We got up and went to Subway so we could have a picnic before our hike. We drove to Yellowwood, driving my Ford Taurus through a creekbed that it certainly wasn’t designed to go through, and hiked up a hill to eat by Yellowwood Lake. It was gorgeous, the perfect picnic spot, and there weren’t too many other people around. We ate and admired each other and the lake. It was bliss.

Sarah took some photos of some of the many butterflies we saw as we went to the car to put our trash in it and grab whatever gear we needed for the hike. There are (at least) two ways you can go: you can hike up High King Hill and take that to the Scarce o’ Fat trail, or you can hike up Scarce o’ Fat itself. We had heard we should do the former, so we did.

High King Hill is supposedly so named because it’s the highest point on land that used to be owned by a Mr. King. That seems to be true, but you can’t tell me that the play on words is coincidental. There’s a sign at the bottom that says 1/4 Mile Steep. I didn’t find it to be super steep, but that’s only because it’s a well-designed trail. It even has some wood pieces in places to create makeshift stairs and prevent erosion. This makes hiking it relatively easy, although it’s a bit tiring to hike up a hill that size no matter how you do it. On the way up were a couple of tree stumps that had been cut out in the shape of chairs. I set the camera on self-timer on another stump, and Sarah and I sat in opposite tree trunk chairs looking at each other. It’s a pretty funny photo, and it’s in the “remix.” There’s supposed to be a “vista” at the top of the hill, and there sort of was, but it was too overgrown to get a very good view.

We reached the Scarce o’ Fat trail, which is supposedly called that because farmers had little success growing anything on that land. The trail followed a ridge for a while before descending into a valley and following a creek or two for a while. It was really pretty, and we saw tons of toads and butterflies, some mushrooms, lots of wildflowers, etc. Eventually, we climbed out of the ravine and the trail met up with a fire road for a while. This fire road supposedly used to be a stagecoach road, and it’s fun to imagine riding through the area on a stagecoach.

The road split, and we weren’t sure which way to go. There were no obvious signs. There were shapes spray painted on trees which we had seen along the way, but I guess we didn’t completely understand that we were supposed to follow the diamonds. Leave it to me to overthink things instead of just following a diamond shape painted on the trees. Anyway, we followed our instincts and hiked for a while, but it seemed like we had hiked for a long time without finding the trail.

We second-guessed ourselves, went back, and went the other way for a while, but there were no markings of any kind in that direction. Eventually, we turned back to go the way we had initially gone. When we reached the point where the road splits, I saw a snake basking off to the side. We took some photos, and I apparently scared it away. It darted back into the woods and disappeared.

Eventually, we arrived at the trail. By this time, our feet and ankles were pretty tired. Most of that road had been rather loose gravel, and it was the hardest part of the whole hike. And then we walked on it a lot more than we would have needed to had we trusted our instincts a little longer. But most of the rest of the hike was downhill. It felt great to be back on the trail instead of that gravel road. Things were a lot prettier again. Sarah was hiking ahead of me and was going pretty fast — I had to hurry a bit to keep up. I was impressed with how well she held up and how fast she was still hiking.

As we descended toward the end of the trail, I was really glad we had hiked up High King Hill instead of going up the way were going down right now. It wasn’t steep, but we went downhill for what seemed like forever, so I know going the other way would feel like climbing forever and probably would have been a lot more tiring than High King Hill.

I love being out in nature with Sarah, away from people for the most part. Something happens to me when I’m there — the rest of the world melts away, leaving only Sarah and me in a place of quiet beauty. I would say it makes me feel like the luckiest man under the sun, but it’s more than that. It makes me feel like the only man under the sun, with the only woman who matters, and it seems like the trees, creeks, toads, flowers, mushrooms, and even the snakes are all for us … and that’s even better.

We arrived at the car and left, still feeling the sun on our faces, and I watched Sarah’s hair blowing in the wind from our rolled-down windows. We were tired, but it felt great. We felt a real sense of accomplishment and connectedness to each other and nature. I stopped to snap photos of a couple of things on our way out of the state forest. I know we’ll go back again soon.

Finally, here’s that remix with photos from our hike. I didn’t add any music this time, as I couldn’t find anything fitting in the options on PhotoBucket.

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