Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for June, 2007

Mountain Biking and Camping

Monday, June 18th, 2007

It was another great weekend. Sarah had a class Saturday morning, as she will the next several weeks, so I planned to go mountain biking with Dave at Brown County. He was still a bit sick, but wanted to ride anyway. We opted for a change of pace and headed directly to Hesitation Point from the lower parking lot. We were both riding really well, especially considering the fact that Dave was sick … and I developed a headache right before we started riding. I was feeling a little sluggish, so I was riding a little slower than usual, but I wasn’t making many mistakes.

I don’t often ride Hesitation Point, largely because it has a lot of technical obstacles (mostly rock gardens, and one rock waterfall). But this time, following Dave, I was able to clear most of the obstacles. I watched what line he took and tried to follow his lead — and for the most part, it worked. He did a few surprising things I wouldn’t have thought to try, like suddenly turning the handlebars at key points. I need to learn a few more tricks, but now I can finally see how if I can learn what line to take, maybe someday I’ll be able to clear everything there. We also rode the North Tower Loop “backwards” (counter-clockwise) on our way back.

Sarah and I had planned to go camping at Morgan-Monroe State Forest Saturday night. This was our first time camping together, and the first time either of us had gone camping in a very long time. We bought a tent a little while back, a Eureka Tetragon 7, but hadn’t had a chance to go camping yet. We were anxious to give it a shot, and borrowed some gear from my mom and bought a few other things.

We got off to a pretty late start, and didn’t arrive at the state forest until it was almost dark. We picked up a registration card at the forest office and went to find a campsite. We found a pretty good site, with its fire pit set back toward the woods, and a good place for the tent not far from it. We pitched the tent and realized we had forgotten to bring pillows. We also needed firewood, so we figured we’d go find some and drop off the registration card and camping fee ($8).

Finding firewood was a lot more difficult than we expected. Morgan-Monroe State Forest is near Martinsville, a terrible town infamous for its large population of KKK members. A lot of the people there are just plain scary, in a Deliverance sort of way. It’s like a whole town full of the kinds of people you find at Wal-Mart at 3:00 am. And among other places, we ended up at their Wal-Mart. We looked for firewood at several different places, and even Wal-Mart didn’t have any — but we bought a hatchet there, which we should have had anyway. The gas station outside Wal-Mart did have firewood, so we bought a bundle there and drove back to our campsite, forgetting to drop off our registration card and fee along the way. We figured we’d worry about that later.

Once back at the campsite, I started a fire while Sarah poured the first whiskey and diet cokes. We never used to drink Diet Coke in any fashion, but with this diet, even just the whiskey itself has more calories than we should consume, so we went the Jack and Diet Coke route — it’s surprisingly tolerable, especially once you’ve already had a few. You really don’t even notice at that point.

Us

Sarah and Rob by the fire Rob

Rob and me Fire

Since I had the hatchet, I couldn’t resist hacking at some branches we found to supplement the bundle of firewood we had purchased. It was kind of fun for a while. We enjoyed the fire for a bit (even though it was hot outside, the fire didn’t bother us) and waited for it to develop some coals so we could cook bratwurst. We were starving and getting anxious. We decided I was going to make two brats for Sarah and three for myself, but I dropped one of mine into the fire. Whoops. There’s something great about food cooked over an open fire. It just tastes better.

Bratwurst
Bratwurst cooked over the campfire

After dinner, I decided to ride my bicycle down to the forest office, which was only about half a mile away. I was getting a little drunk, and of course, it was extremely dark, but I held a flashlight in one hand. Some fellow campers who were still up watched in disbelief as I rode by their campsite — who is this loon riding a bike with a flashlight on a gravel road in the middle of the night?

I didn’t see any cars on the road. In fact, I didn’t see much at all, aside from lots of lightning bugs.

Night bike ride
The view from my bicycle.

I made it back to our campsite without incident, and Sarah was surprised I wasn’t gone longer. I was gone maybe 10 minutes.

We drank some more and decided it was a good time to make s’mores. They sure were delicious! We each made two and I wanted another one, so I put a marshmallow on a skewer. As I was holding it over the fire, it caught fire and fell off the skewer, landing on the ground. Always thinking fast, I stepped on it — putting out the fire, but also leaving a gooey marshmallow mess on the sole of my shoe.

S'mores Marshmallow on shoe

At this point, we stepped up the debauchery a notch and had hot, wild, beautiful, drunken sex next to the open fire. Thus, we completed number 87 on Sarah’s 101 List and experienced a wonderful first for both of us.

After this point, my memory gets a little hazy. I know we went to the bathroom, put out the fire, and got in the tent. More debauchery followed, after which we passed out.

We woke up a bit after 9:00 am, feeling a bit less than 100%. We had drunk an entire bottle of Jack Daniels, and we had mild hangovers. We had planned on hiking in the morning, but didn’t feel up for it, and it was hot. We ate a small breakfast and hung out a little bit.

Me Sarah and Rob at the campsite

After that, we packed our stuff and headed home. Along the way, we saw this:

Rooster
This rooster was strutting his stuff along the side of the road.

Hitting the road again

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

I’ve been riding on the road more this week. I haven’t done any lengthy rides since my ride around Lake Monroe on Saturday, but aside from a ride on Sunday, I haven’t been mountain biking yet this week. It’s been hot (above 90), and I’m trying to force myself to get out there anyway to hopefully help my body to adjust to the heat.

I rode my Water Works route yesterday. It was a good ride, and the heat didn’t bother me as much as I expected. I was sweating a lot, but the UnderArmour Mesh Skullcap I got has done a good job of keeping the sweat out of my eyes and face; that’s been a source of frustration in the past, especially when sweat gets in my eyes and they burn, or it runs down my glasses and I can’t see. This was a fairly typical ride, but there was a scene I had to photograph.

A place for reflection
Stone picnic table

It was kind of a zen moment riding along, looking up and seeing that stone picnic table illuminated just perfectly by the sun, which was getting low in the sky, casting long shadows and giving everything a warm glow. I would have stopped to rest there, but it seems pretty clear that it’s on private property. Alas. I’ve had a few moments like this on that street, Shady Side Drive (here’s another, with a photo of a view of Lake Monroe). There are many really cool houses there as well, including one with a bunch of pine trees in front. I’ll have to photograph some of the houses sometime.

Tonight, I rode on Mount Gilead Road, another routine route and a routine ride, except that I attached my camera case to the stem and took a number of photos as I rode. Here are some highlights.

Tiger Lillies
One of many patches of Tiger Lillies

Tiger Lillies are Sarah’s favorite flowers, and they are all over the place right now. I know this isn’t the greatest photo, but it’s the only Tiger Lilly shot that turned out. I stopped at one patch of Tiger Lillies and stole one for Sarah, putting its stem in my saddle bag. It survived the trip home surprisingly well, and Sarah put it in the blue vase I had given my grandmother when she was alive. It looks beautiful there and makes me think of Sarah, and my grandma too — two of my favorite women.

Mount Gilead Road
Mount Gilead Road

The roof is purely decorative
The roof is purely decorative

New Unionville Baptist Church
New Unionville Baptist Church

Riding Home On 45
State Road 45

I'd live there
Field with some trees and a house further back. I’d live there.

Commuting fun!

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Today’s commute was particularly fun. The past few commutes had been a little routine and not boring exactly, but a bit less invigorating. But something happened this morning that made things fun — there was more traffic. Yes, incredibly, having more traffic improved my ride this morning.

For one thing, I figured out a really cool trick that I’ve been working on perfecting, but sometimes it’s hard to find the right opportunity to practice it. The trick I figured out is a way to accelerate much faster from a stop. Yesterday, I my rides to work and home were almost nonstop. I had to stop a few times this morning and got to practice the trick.

Maybe it seems obvious, but it wasn’t to me — here’s the trick. You need clipless pedals. When you stop, keep one foot clipped in (I use my left). When you are ready to go, start pedaling and clip in with your right foot as quickly as possible. When your right foot reaches the bottom of the pedal stroke, stand up, lean forward, and pull your right foot up and forward very quickly. If you’re in the right gear (use a higher one than you normally would when stopping), you’ll shoot forward — I can reach 10 mph almost immediately. You should be pedaling on the upstroke in general anyway, but I’ve found that I can get a lot more acceleration by doing the whole leaning forward and pulling, than by pushing down on the pedals. Does anyone else do this?

I saw a lot of cyclists this morning, and blew right by all of them. I was going to say hi, but I realized that they had headphones on (but no helmets, of course), so I just flew by. This is sort of a pet peeve of mine — if you’re riding, you need to be in touch with the world around you, not engrossed in music and off in another world.

Anyway, I rode harder than usual this morning, but it was just so much fun! I got to work in only 12 minutes. I was going to go slow and try not to sweat too much, but instead I had a few extra minutes to cool down, and I arrived at work with a goofy grin on my face. That’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make.

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