Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Paddling and pedaling (but no peddling)

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

It’s been far too long since I wrote anything here. This weekend was too full of living life to take the time to write about it. Yesterday and today have been too filled with illness and work to allow it. Note: there are three sections to this entry: Paddling, Hiking, and Pedaling. There’s even a video taken with my digital camera mounted on my helmet at the end.


Sarah and I both intended to get up early on Saturday — she had class, and I wanted to go for a long ride. But we were too tired and weary from a difficult work week and slept late instead. We ate breakfast sometime around noon, neither of us feeling as guilty as we probably should have for slacking off and sleeping in. It was a beautiful day to skip everything and just bask in the sun. We debated what to do — the ideas of hiking or going on a short bike ride together surfaced, but neither seemed like exactly the right thing. Finally, Sarah suggested we try something new, something we had been wanting to do for some time, and never got around to: canoeing.

Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves at Lake Griffy, a small lake in Bloomington, renting a canoe and asking the kid working there for any advice he might have, since neither of us had really done this before. Not surprisingly, he was no help. He did say that generally the stronger paddler should sit in the front, so that’s where I ended up.

So we set out, having to first figure out how to back away from the shore, turn around, and then start moving. We had some trouble at first, but improved fairly quickly. I had some trouble trying to steer the canoe, but I later learned that whoever is sitting in the stern is supposed to steer. So, I should have sat in the stern or let Sarah steer.

Lake Griffy I
Lake Griffy

Neither of us is accustomed to boating, so the experience was pretty novel. It was great to be out on the water, and since I have a thing for human-powered transportation, I really liked canoeing. We went around the lake clockwise, exploring some coves as we went around. I should note that these photos were taken with an underwater film camera I got at Goodwill for $2. We saw a bird sitting on a log that I think may have been a Great Blue Heron (Maybe Marty can have a look at the first one below and let me know if that looks right).

Bird Underwater plant

Sarah II Rocky shoreline

Waterworld Reflection

We made it all the way around the lake in about an hour, and only spent $5 on the canoe rental. That’s probably the best $5 ever spent. We had a great time, and are planning on doing more canoeing soon. We’re planning to make a trip to Versailles State Park this weekend for some camping, canoeing, bicycling, etc.


After that, we relaxed a little bit and went for a short hike at Yellowwood State Forest. With both canoeing and hiking, it sounds like a busy day, but it really wasn’t. We did everything at a very relaxed pace, and savored every moment.

Sarah and me
Hiking at Yellowwood State Park


We slept in later than planned again on Sunday, but we really needed the sleep. Still, I was a little irked with myself, because that meant I’d be going for a long bicycle ride in the hottest part of the day. It wasn’t a super hot day, but it was sunny, humid, and a bit windy.

Since I wasn’t sure how much riding I was really up for, I planned a route that allowed for short and long options and let me make a decision once I reached the point where the routes split. I started off riding pretty hard, which is what I tend to do, unless I make a concerted effort to ride more slowly. I’m not sure why, but I actually have to think about it to make myself go slower.

Once I changed my mindset and started riding at a more leisurely pace, the heat bothered me a lot less, and I enjoyed the ride more — not just because I was cooler, but also because I had more time to enjoy the scenery. I rode up to Morgan-Monroe State Forest, through the forest, and down the other side to Low Gap Road.

I made some videos along the way, using my digital camera and the Gorillapod I got at Best Buy recently. At first, I tried mounting it on my handlebars, but there was too much vibration that way. It worked better attaching it to my helmet, even if it did look ridiculous and make riding a bit awkward. Actually, you can see in the video the antenna-like shadow of the camera on the Gorillapod on the helmet on my head.

I decided to go the long way, taking me on Mahalasville Road for a while. It was truly beautiful, with some rides along ridgetops that afforded some great views and rides by cornfields swaying in the breeze.

Mahalasville Road III
Mahalasville Road

As I approached Lick Creek Road, a guy on a motorcycle stopped beside me and asked how to get to State Road 45. I told him I was about to take Lick Creek there, although this was my first time riding in this area, so I wasn’t too sure of where I was going. He asked, “It’s not too far, is it?” Of course, I had no idea, but I thought it was a funny question, with him on a motorcycle and me on a bicycle. I figured if I could make it without an engine, he could make it with one. I didn’t check the mileage, but it took me a long time to get down to 45 — it must have been 15 miles or so.

I saw a guy with a motor scooter stopped along State Road 45 later, and he couldn’t get the damn thing started. I would’ve stopped to help, but I know approximately nothing about engines. Too bad his scooter didn’t have pedals!

I stopped at the Need More Grocery store for some water and additional gatorade. This was a strange little convenience store, with most of the refrigerated shelves empty. You had to walk to the back of the store to get to the beverages. I noticed they also sell fishing and hunting licenses, as well as ammunition.

Need More Grocery

I rode back home on State Road 45. I could have gone down and ridden across Lake Lemon, and I probably should have. There’s about a two-mile stretch of 45 that is almost completely uphill. You have to climb the same amount the other way, but it’s not quite as bad. However, staying on 45 took me on a section of it I hadn’t seen in a while. I snapped a photo to compare to the ones Sarah and I took there during the winter.

State Road 45 Scene
State Road 45 in summer
Road fading into the fog
State Road 45 in winter
I was certainly tired when I finished my ride, but considering the fact that it’s the longest ride I’ve done yet (56.6 miles), I felt pretty good. Riding slower had made it much more doable, and I definitely could have kept riding a while longer if I needed to.

Here’s the video. Look for these things:

  • A pedestrian going the other way waving to me.
  • My hesitation at the intersection, deciding whether to go the short way or the long way (As Sarah pointed out, it didn’t take long to decide).
  • My shadow, complete with a dorky antenna-looking camera mounted on my helmet.

10 Responses to “Paddling and pedaling (but no peddling)”

  1. Sarah Says:

    You know, this is a a great post. Except for one thing. You left out this awesome photo.

    Geez, leaver-outter-of-good-parts.

  2. Dan Says:

    That’s a great video. How did you secure the gorillapod to your helmet to keep it from falling? I would be worried the whole time of losing my camera.

  3. Revrunner Says:

    Yep, Great Blue Heron and you’re right, the kid was clueless. Strongest paddler should always be in the back steering. You really can’t steer from the front. Now in whitewater, the person in the front can be of valuable assistance in making quick maneuvers and adjustments and some of these can require some considerable strength–e.g. back paddling, quick rights and lefts into eddies, and so forth. But you still need your “motor” in the back.

    Love canoeing. Haven’t done any this year only because I’ve gotten so intense about biking. In fact, I passed up a paddling event for the first time this spring because it conflicted with the Capital-to-Capital bike ride.

  4. Pete Says:

    Canoeing is great fun, glad to hear you guys made it back in one piece. 😉

    And cool video! I’ve been thinking about trying something like that.

  5. Apertome Says:

    Thanks for these comments. I have another video that might be good enough to post if I can edit it down a bit.

    I attached the Gorillapod to my helmet by putting its legs through the vents (they just barely fit) and bending them inward.

    Another way I’d like to try doing this is to attach the camera to my helmet with velcro zip ties. This works very well to attach a flashlight for night trail riding. I’m not sure how well it’d work with the camera.

    On the other hand, I’m lazy, and there’s a guy at work who has an actual helmet cam, so I may end up asking to borrow that sometime instead.

    I’m glad to see some other canoeists. Thanks for the advice, I’m sure it will come in handy.

  6. John Says:

    We just sold our kayaks this spring. I never cared that much for it. It was just ok. Sue loved it but her shoulder and neck problem forced us to give it up. Neither us us miss it luckily.

    Both hiking and biking are still on our list though. Lots of bike videos here and here

  7. furiousBall Says:

    Canoeing is the best, in the offseason, I’m hoping to get one for Bubba and Viv next summer. That State Road 45 is damn nice looking year round.

    I was about to correct the canoe kid’s theory, but I see someone already did. Strong paddler in the back.

  8. Sarah Says:

    For the record, I’m not a bad paddler. I certainly wasn’t chilling in the canoe while he did all the paddling, like every other woman we saw. As a matter of fact, we did just fine, with me in the back. The only problem was that Michael complained because I had us going too fast, and he wanted to stop to take photos. As Michael pointed out, why does this bug me? I have no idea. I’m a pro-life, anti-feminist, pink-wearing, God-fearing, penis-loving woman. But I can freaking canoe. That’s all I’m saying. End rant.

  9. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » Conquering Boltinghouse Says:

    […] be fun to try a new route and take Low Gap Road down. I had ridden on Low Gap before, during my Mahalasville Ride, but this would let me ride on a section of Low Gap I’d never seen before. I decided to go […]

  10. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » July recap Says:

    […] so far. The funny thing is, it didn’t even feel like I rode that much. However, I did do my longest ride to date (56.6 miles), which took me through Morgan-Monroe State Forest and Mahalasville. I only went […]

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