Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for October, 2007

Dr. T’s Funky 50; cracked rim

Monday, October 8th, 2007

I had quite a ride yesterday as I decided to do “Dr T’s Funky 50” from one of the Bloomington Bicycle Club map books. I had ridden in that area a bit before when I did the shorter Ride around Lake Monroe but this ride took me further south and took a different route back into town.

The ride started by going over to Indiana Highway 446, a two-lane highway which for a while has speed limits of 55 mph. I rode on Sunday morning this time instead of a Saturday afternoon so there was less traffic. The parts of the road with fast speed limits also have wide shoulders, so I had no problems with cars. I don’t usually ride on the shoulder but I made an exception in this case for part of the way and I felt pretty comfortable doing so. There was some debris to watch out for, but it wasn’t bad.

There was a stiff headwind that kept my head and my speed down. The first part of 446 has some rolling hills which didn’t give me too much trouble, and the road was mostly straight. There wasn’t much protection from the wind, but I did pretty well anyway. After a while the shoulder disappeared and the road began to wind, the speed limit decreasing at the same time. That was the section of road where I had some trouble with drivers before since they couldn’t pass me. I was concerned based on that experience, but I had no problems this time around.

The scenery improved, with some good hills and some parts of road carved into the limestone.  I passed by the entrance to the Paynetown State Recreation Area and the “Fishin’ Shedd,” a convenience store/gas station. The road wound around some more and went downhill through more limestone and down to the causeway. I love riding across lakes in this way and I had a particularly leisurely trip across the lake as there were no cars behind me.

Riding across Lake Monroe
Riding across Lake Monroe

View from the causeway
View on one side of the causeway

As cyclists know, if you ride down toward a body of water, you’re going to have to climb up the other side unless you follow the water instead. I climbed a formidable hill after I crossed the lake. It was fairly steep for a while but eventually became more gradual. It’s about a 1.25-mile climb and is pretty tiring, especially with my rack trunk bag on my bike with a bunch of stuff in it weighing me down.

After the causeway and the climb, 446 twisted around a bit more.

Streaks of light
Rays of light on 446

But then it got flat and mostly straight for several miles. It was easy riding but not as exciting as the hillier, curvier parts. It did allow me to cover a lot of ground pretty quickly though and it’s beautiful country, with a lot of farms and more road carved through limestone in places.

Rabbits 4 sale
Rabbits 4 Sale sign that Sarah and I have driven past countless times but never photographed

Straight, flat, easy riding
Straight, flat, easy

I noticed that a building that Sarah and I had photographed previously is now gone, all that was left was a pile of rubble. We had driven by it a few times and each time a couple more walls would disappear. Now, it’s just gone. I went across a bridge by a creek and a pond and was struck by a field with many hay bales. A man was searching for geodes in the creek.

Hay bales and a creek
Hay bales in a field near a pond and a creek

Eventually it got hillier again, and it was heating up. The forecast said it would be 92 degrees and that we might break high temperature record. I heard a little noise in the lowest gear of my cassette but figured it was just my derailleur needing some adjustment. I ignored it. I rode through more cut-out limestone sections and stopped at one to take a break and take a couple of photos.

Bike and limestone
My bike against a limestone wall

Road carved through limestone
Road carved through limestone
I went a few more miles on 446 and was really glad to turn off of it. It really was dull and there was no shade. I turned onto Gil Gal Road which followed a long line of trees for a few minutes, providing much-appreciated shade. I went into a great flowing descent, flying down a flat stretch of road before going into some curves that were tight enough to be fun, but just wide enough that I didn’t have to touch the brakes. I hit 43 mph on my way down the hill. It was an exhilarating ride and getting moving so fast cooled me considerably.

I flew by a church, the Gilgal Primitive Baptist Church, a very small church with a cemetery. Small churches with cemeteries turned out to be a theme of the ride for me, as I passed many of them.

Gilgal Primitive Baptist Church Gilgal Church Cemetery
Gilgal Primitive Baptist Church / The Gilgal Cemetery

As I rode through this valley I was struck with how hard the drought hit here. It seemed counterintuitive to me that the low-lying areas got hit the worst — you’d think that they’d get some runoff and so end up with more water than the ridges, but obviously my logic missed something. The low-lying areas looked dead.

Dead field
The effects of the drought

I made a detour to Heltonville to hopefully find some water and maybe a snack. I had some Balance bars but they didn’t sound appealing at all. According to the map, Bonehead’s Heltonville Store was only about a mile off course. I cruised past a somewhat decrepit-looking park and baseball diamond and into town, passing another church. This one was bigger, being in town, but Heltonville is a very small town. I also passed a tiny post office that I found amusing. I couldn’t find Bonehead’s store and tried a different route. I found what I believe was Bonehead’s, but there was no sign stating the name of the establishment.

Bonehead's Heltonville Store
Bonehead’s Heltonville Store (I think)

I walked in and saw some bananas which looked good, but I would have had to buy a whole bunch. There were some Granny Smith apples in a refrigerator and that looked delicious, so I bought one. I also bought some water and gatorade to replenish my fluid supply.  I put the apple in my bag and filled my water bottles so I could go eat somewhere more scenic. I also felt out of place in my cycling clothing at this small town gas station, and it was fairly crowded as I believe church had just let out.

I headed back to the park and saw that it had a shelter, so I stopped to rest and eat and rehydrate a bit. The apple I had gotten wasn’t the best apple I’ve tasted but it sure beat energy bars and Nutter Butters. It was also great to find some shade. I watched some kids play on the playground and enjoyed my snack.

Pleasant Run Park playground
Pleasant Run Park playground

I started riding again and saw a lot more dead plants. It’s really sad to see so many crops dead and gone to waste.

Cornfields Forever
Cornfield and an incredible sky

I crossed Dunn Bridge, which goes over a creek. I had to dodge some cornstalks that were laying in the road.

Dunn Bridge
Dunn Bridge

I passed a small cemetery that appeared to simply be a family cemetery with no church in sight. There was a strange combination of old, run-down houses and gorgeous new ones. Run-down barn
Decaying barn

Goldenrod, barn, blue sky
Goldenrod, old barn, blue skies

This area had a lot of rolling hills and I kept hearing more noise by my rear derailleur when in my lowest gear. I started wondering what was up but kept riding. I passed the Bartlettsville Christian Church, with another cemetery. Some people were visiting sites at this cemetery, unlike the others.

I continued riding and passed Mama Jean’s Restaurant. It claimed to be open all day or something like that, but I couldn’t tell if it was open at all.

Mama Jean's
Is that a grave by the stop sign?

Mama Jean's
Great benches on the porch … junkyard alongside the building

I have been meaning to take a photo of my bicycle leaning up against a row of corn. I don’t know why, I just got the idea in my head. I guess I wanted something showing my bicycle in the context of something that’s ubiquitous locally, which is also why I took the photo by the limestone above. I meant to do it by green corn, but I guess I missed my chance — maybe next year. Still, I think this shot turned out pretty cool.

Bicycle, corn
My bicycle by some corn

I had a huge hill to climb and heard more sounds from my gears. I also felt a bump each time my wheel went around. I stopped to check it out, thinking it must be a loose reflector or something. What I found was pretty upsetting.

Cracked Rim

Cracked Rim II
Cracked rim

I had cracked my rim somehow. I had no idea how this happened. I didn’t remember hitting any big bumps or potholes. Maybe I just wore it out or something … I’m really not sure. I took a few minutes to rest and decide what to do. It was really getting hot now. I could still ride, it seemed, but I had to avoid the lowest gears of my cassette. I decided to try to ride home but called a couple of people first to let them know what was going on, where I was, where I was headed, and that I might need a ride if it got worse. I was only 25 miles into my ride, which was supposed to be 50 miles but I knew would be a bit more due to my detour into Heltonville.

This problem with my wheel put a real damper on my ride pretty quickly. The heat was also starting to get to me and I started riding very sluggishly. I had some fun downhill sections but then had a huge climb to contend with and stopped partway up to take advantage of some shade. I called Sarah, afraid I might have missed a turn. She looked up some things online for me and as far as we could tell, I was on the right road. Once I started pedaling again, I quickly confirmed that I was going the right way. I passed some more pretty areas but didn’t feel much like taking photos anymore. The problem got worse as my wheel went more and more out of true, eventually rubbing my rear brake pads as I rode, slowing me down considerably.

Judah-Logan Road Panorama
Judah-Logan Road Panorama

Before long, I reached Old Highway 37 and felt a bit relieved. I hadn’t ridden this section of it, but I felt it would be easier riding, and it was. However, there was absolutely no shade to be found. I rode for quite a while on Old 37, and was a bit like 446 in this section — wide and boring. Eventually, I made it back to Bloomington. I winged it on my way home and took kind of a stupid route through town, but I made it home. It felt like the last 15 miles of my ride were completely uphill, and even some small residential hills gave me trouble.

I enjoyed my ride, but the second half or so of it was very tough given the heat and the state of my bicycle and the brutal hills.  I think I liked the Ride Around Lake Monroe a bit better since it went through Coveyville, a small town I really like, and it was a bit more scenic. It also spent less time on 446 and none on Old 37 and skipped some more the more boring parts of the ride. However, I do like the additional distance that this ride gave me.

I went into the shop where I bought my bike on lunch today and the wheel is under warranty. They’re letting me upgrade with a credit for the value of the wheel instead of getting another wheel like the one I already broke.  If I like it, I’ll upgrade the front wheel too. I feel the wheels on my bicycle are among its weakest components.

An old friend

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Jon Grinder has an interesting post on his Two Wheels blog about the old mountain bike he’s using for commuting. His is a late 80s-early 90s Jamis Diablo. He has added fenders and a rack and attaches panniers to it.

This got me thinking about my old (1993-94 maybe) GT Timberline, which I am turning into a foul weather commuter/around town beater bike. I put slick tires on it and added fenders and a rack. Here are a few photos. I guess I should have taken a photo with the pannier on the bike (yes, I usually only use one pannier).

DSCF2481

DSCF2485
Those are the stock handlebars. I can’t find ones like that now, so it’s a good thing these are still in decent shape.

DSCF2483

DSCF2482

It still needs work. The shifting is messed up by the rear derailleur. I have a blinky light to put on the rear and need a light for the front. I want to get some new pedals. I may put knobbies back on it or get some studded tires this winter. I haven’t ridden this bike that much recently, because I ride my Giant OCR2 most of the time. But I have a feeling this will be my main ride through much of the winter.

I’ve had this bike since high school. It’s been with me for many miles on roads and trails. It was my main transportation at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. I took it to Austin, TX where I didn’t ride it that much there, unfortunately. Later, we moved back to the Chicago area and finally back to Bloomington, IN where I first got it. And I’m sure it’ll take me many more miles. The bike shop that sold it to me went out of business, but the bike is still going strong.

Bikes
In its natural environment

Recovery?

Friday, October 5th, 2007

I’ve hardly ridden since the Breakdown on Sunday. Who would think that 70 miles of mountain biking would wear me out? Actually, the biggest problem was my sore butt. It wasn’t a good idea to use a brand new saddle for a 10-hour ride, although it may just be that my new mountain bike saddle is better suited to shorter, more technical rides than epic all-day treks.

Yesterday, I was feeling pretty good and thinking I’d ride after work. Then I was invited to ride with Chris (not the same Chris I go mountain biking with), and his roommates last night. I rode with them once before, but I guess I forgot to write about it. Chris just got a 2007 Giant OCR2 pretty recently. I have the same bike, only mine is the 2006 model — in fact, I ran into him at Bikesmiths when I went in to get a few things for my bike and he was looking at an OCR2. I knew him a little bit before that — he’s Sarah’s best friend from high school’s cousin. Yeah, we live in a small town.

Chris’s roommate Ryan rode with us before. He has a Cannondale Rush full-suspension mountain bike that he also uses for road riding. I’m continually impressed with how well he can ride that thing on the road. I’ve ridden my mountain bike on the road a few times and it’s insanely inefficient. Ryan does very well on his, and it scares me to think how fast he’ll be once he gets an actual road bike. The other roommate, Yoder, didn’t ride with us last time but must ride a lot as he rode pretty fast. He also has a 2007 Giant OCR2 and it’s interesting riding with two guys with identical bikes that are also almost identical to mine.

I was hoping last night’s ride could serve as a recovery ride. So when I arrived at their place and they started talking about riding Boltinghouse Road, which has one of the hardest hills in the area, I was not amused. Chris wasn’t feeling up for it either, but Ryan and Yoder were pretty insistent, so we headed in that direction. I hung back and rode with Chris most of the time. It felt great to be back on my bike, but I was taking it easy. I still wanted to make this mostly a recovery ride.

We had a nice downhill and then had a pretty good climb that really got my heart pumping. I felt warmed up after that and we headed to Old 37. We saw a group riding the other way, and I think my coworker Randi might have been in it. As we approached the climb on Boltinghouse, I saw that the spray-painted smack talk on the road was still there. The hill itself was taunting me. I took a different tack from last time, climbing out of the saddle a little bit as before but then sitting and pedaling slowly in a sitting position most of the time. I could have gone faster if I had stood to climb the whole thing, but I didn’t feel I had the energy. I wasn’t sure if I could keep pedaling this slowly and I did have to stand once to get my cadence back up, but I made it up the climb. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t fast, but I made it.

After that, we headed to State Road 45 and rode back into town on 10th Street. They like to ride through downtown and do a “victory lap down Kirkwood into the setting sun.” I usually try to avoid town on my rides, but I have to admit that it was kind of fun riding through campus and downtown. We rode on the brick path that goes through the Sample Gates at the end of Kirkwood, and while I wouldn’t want to do it all the time, I did enjoy myself. We took an interesting and useful route north from downtown that I’ll have to remember for the future.

It’s interesting how different people’s riding styles can be. Yoder keeps a very high cadence. Ryan goofs around a bit more, which his mountain bike allows. They also made some interesting choices, like riding on 10th Street. It’s a fairly busy road, the speed limit is not fast, but there are ways you can go that have much less traffic. Also, the right side of 10th Street is very rough and they were just kind of riding in the rough section. In fact, they stayed very close to the right edge of the road in general, sometimes going into a turn lane to get right to let cars pass and then going back to the main traffic lane. Personally, I stay in the main lane unless I’m turning, and I ride about where a car’s right wheel would go, not two inches from the side of the road. I think it makes me more visible, and it’s safer anyway. They also rode on the shoulder in a few places where I would stay on the road.

All in all, it was a good ride. We went about 18 miles at 14.5 mph average. And aside from the Boltinghouse climb, I did feel it was a good recovery ride. I hope to do more rides with these guys, maybe some longer ones at some point. It’s cool having someone to ride with on the road.

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