Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for July, 2007

Low mileage week; weekend plans

Friday, July 20th, 2007

It’s been a bad week for cycling. It started out great, with my 56-mile Mahalasville ride on Sunday — the longest ride I’ve done to date. But I was feeling sick Sunday night and Monday and didn’t ride at all. Then, it rained Tuesday through Thursday. Fortunately, there was some time in the evenings when it didn’t rain. Still, I didn’t want to go too far, lest I get caught in a storm.

I did some work on my old mountain bike (a mid-90s GT Timberline — the green bike in the photo). I’m going to repurpose it as a foul weather/backup commuter, around town, and general trekking bike, to explore dirt and gravel roads. It needs more work, but I think that if I fix a few things and add fenders and a rack, it’ll be great for these purposes. I already put some slicks (road tires) on it that I had on hand, and it works pretty well on the road and on gravel.

The high point of the week in cycling terms was on Tuesday, when Sarah was in a bad mood and I tried to cheer her up with a bike ride (it worked). She wrote a great blog entry about it. We rode across Lake Lemon and back on South Shore drive. Sarah hasn’t cycled very much in a number of years, and I know she feels intimidated sometimes riding with me. But I enjoy riding slowly and enjoying the scenery (by “scenery,” I mean her — the lake was nice, too). It’s also great just to see her on a bike.

DSCF1645 DSCF1678

DSCF1665 DSCF1663

DSCF1654

We rode about four miles, and Sarah did a great job. None of the hills on this road are huge, but she did great on the hills that are there. I’m proud of her for giving it a shot even though she didn’t feel like it, and I’m glad she had a good time.

I am excited about this weekend. We’re going to Versailles State Park, a couple of hours away, to camp. We’ll also do some hiking, biking, and canoeing while we’re there. It’ll be great to get away, just the two of us (well, the dog is coming, too), for a whole weekend. That hasn’t been possible since Sarah has had class on Saturdays, but the class doesn’t meet tomorrow. It’ll also give us a chance to break in our new hiking boots and streamline the camping process for our trip to North Carolina in August. I’m sure we’ll also take about a thousand photos.

I have been to Versailles once, Thanksgiving weekend last year, when I went mountain biking there with my mountain biking buddy Dave. Here’s what I wrote about it then. We were only there long enough to ride the trails, which are fantastic. I plan on mountain biking again this time, but most of our time will be spent doing stuff together. We’ll also be near Clifty Falls State Park, so if we get bored (not likely) we can always head over there to check that out.

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.

Paddling

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.

Hiking

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

Pedaling

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.

Riding around Lake Lemon — backwards

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Last night, I did the ride around Lake Lemon “backwards” that I’ve been planning. No, I didn’t get a fixed-gear bike and ride it in reverse (although this guy on YouTube did). I simply rode around the lake in the opposite direction from what I’ve done in the past. I modified the route slightly, in addition to changing its direction, to put me on Shilo Road for a stretch. Here is the Bikely route.

It was a windy evening, which slowed me down quite a bit, although it helped me in some parts of the ride. Still, wind almost always seem to result in a net loss of speed, and a more difficult ride.

I’m glad I rode on Shilo Road, because that was one of my favorite parts of the ride. As I mentioned before, it’s a very windy, rough road. Before then, I had only ridden it in the opposite direction, which has you climbing pretty much the whole way. This way, it’s mostly downhill, and it’s a real challenge avoiding potholes and rough pavement and flying around sharp turns. It’s more like mountain biking, in a way — you have to try to pick the best line to make it through the rubble. In fact, I’m a little concerned that if I keep doing this, I’ll knock my wheels out of true. My mountain bike might be better, or at least some fatter tires — but that extra challenge is part of the fun.

Shilo Road
Shilo Road

Another great thing about Shilo Road is that it’s very narrow and has pretty dense tree cover. It’s nice and cool back there, and there’s very little traffic. I really got in the zone, and finding the best line became easier. I took the curves faster than last time, and had fun sprinting up some small climbs.

Anderson Road was pretty tame in this direction, but it’s always a pleasant ride. North Shore was quite a bit different going this way. I think there was more climbing than in the other direction, or at least, you can’t use momentum to help you through as much. Also, it’s a longer, more gradual climb, as opposed to going the other way, where you have several steeper climbs. I’m not sure yet which way is easier, or which is more fun.

North Shore Drive
North Shore Drive

It’s pretty interesting how different riding the same route in reverse can be. It can result in some unexpected challenges, and some parts that seem like they would be hard turn out to be fairly easy.

State Road 45  Railing

View from State Road 45
This section of State Road 45 was easier than I expected. It goes up a pretty good hill, but it’s not steep, and you can spin up fairly easily.

The wind really made my ride more difficult as I rode west on South Shore Drive. This is a very straight section of road that goes through some fields and stuff, and of course, I was headed into the wind the whole time. I saw a herd of cattle and some cattails. I also snapped a decent photo of some corn as I whizzed by.

South Shore Drive  Whizzing past endless corn

Cattails Cows

Later, South Shore goes right over the lake on a causeway. You’re out in the open, and there’s nothing to shield you from the wind.  I didn’t take any photos of this part this time, but there are some in this older post. I had a tough climb up to Tunnel Road on North Shore, and then rode home on 45. The ride was about 35 miles. I really need to get some more rides in this week — I’ve been slacking lately (although in all fairness, the rain hasn’t helped). I really want to ride out to Mahalasville or something similar soon, after driving through there with Sarah on Sunday.

I’m also thinking about sometime trying a “sub 24-hour overnight” (S24O) bicycle camping trip. Basically, you load up your bike with everything you need to camp for one night, ride to your destination, sleep there, and ride back the next day.  An account of such a trip on Kent’s Bike Blog is inspiring to me, and this explanation from Rivendell is useful, as well. I have no idea if/when I’d do this, but it’s something that I’d really like to try.

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