Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Two fantastic rides

Monday, November 19th, 2007

It was a great weekend for riding, sunny most of the time with temperatures in the 50s. I went mountain biking at Brown County State Park on Saturday and hit the road to Morgan-Monroe State Forest on Sunday.

Mountain Biking at Brown County

Saturday was a stunning day with temperatures approaching 60 degrees and some sun. I rode a lot later than I planned but late afternoon was a great time to be out. I rode “the trifecta” — what used to be all three trails (there are some new ones now that I didn’t ride). I took my time a bit riding up the parking lot connector but once I reached the North Tower Loop I kicked it in gear and rode hard. It felt so great to ride during the day after the past few rides being night rides and I was able to go a lot faster. I was pushing the envelope as the leaves hindered my traction and even felt my rear wheel drift a few times. But I kept it in check and managed to learn the limits without wiping out. I don’t normally ride this hard but it felt really good and I was just hauling through the woods. I attacked logs aggressively, clearing them in one smooth motion. I was on fire.

However, I knew I couldn’t maintain this pace and once I finished the North Tower Loop, I rode a little toward the Aynes Loop and stopped for a minute to make some adjustments to my saddle. It felt too far forward. I rested for a few minutes and caught my breath. I knew I’d need it for the long climb just ahead, and for the remainder of my ride. I paced myself on the climb and even stopped to take a few photos.

A switchback on the Aynes climb

There were a lot of leaves on the trail but I was surprised by how colorful a lot of the trees were. Some were completely leafless but others were shades of orange and some even had burning bright red colors. It was beautiful, and I had the trails almost completely to myself. I almost didn’t take any photos because part of me selfishly wanted to keep this moment to myself. But I couldn’t help myself. Even if the photos can’t do it justice, they remind me of how it felt to be there.

More of the Aynes climb

The leaves on the trail slowed me down a lot but I wasn’t in a hurry at this point and even enjoyed this difficult climb, spinning up it slowly and not pushing it too much.  Still, I stopped at the top to rest for a few minutes and take some more photos.

My bike at the top of the Aynes climb. You can see the hills in the distance behind it.

I rode fast, but not hard, on the descent. Since it’s mostly downhill I let gravity pull me and tried to use my brakes minimally. Once again I was pushing the envelope but keeping my bike under control. My suspension fork was working overtime absorbing rocks and roots and other bumps I couldn’t see through the leaves. As I went through switchbacks and rode along the edge of the hills I knew I must have a big stupid grin on my face. I was having a blast.

As I passed a pond on my way to the Hesitation Point trail, I passed a couple hiking with their dog. They moved off the trail to let me past and we traded greetings as I rode past. They were very courteous and really seemed to be enjoying the trails. These trails were built for mountain biking but seem to be capturing more and more interest with hikers, which is not surprising because they are just incredible trails. I wish all the hikers were as courteous as these.

I reached the Hesitation Point trail and continued riding. Sometimes I take a break at the trail intersection, but I was having too much fun to stop. I saw another couple hiking with their dog and they were just as courteous as the other couple, letting me by and saying hello as I passed. I rode down into the valley, eating up the double switchback along the way and some steep downhill sections. I had fun following the creek on the trail and once again attacked some log piles aggressively, riding over them about as smoothly as it’s possible to ride a bicycle over a pile of logs.  I stopped for a snack before beginning the long climb out of the valley.

I handled the climb better than I expected, given that I’ve ridden so little lately. The Hesitation Point trail is only a bit over two miles but it’s almost all climbing in this direction and there are numerous technical features on the way up that can really make a dent in your momentum, making the climbing a lot harder. I didn’t clear everything on the way up but I kept on riding as much as possible. I did well in the two sharp switchbacks and on some of the rock features. Other rock features I had to walk. I’m OK with this. I remembered how hard the climb was this summer when it was in the 90s and was grateful for the cool temperatures. By the time I reached the top I was pretty tired and stopped to take in the view and catch my breath.

The view from Hesitation Point — well worth the climb!

My bicycle at Hesitation Point

I was more than ready to let gravity do its part on the way down and cleared every technical feature — even a log dropoff that I had never cleared before. It’s not even that hard if you know how to ride it. Now, I do. There’s another dropoff that I’ve cleared before but that always scares me and it felt easy this time around. I’m gaining more confidence on this trail.

As I flew down this trail I achieved a certain connection with the trail where dodging trees, weaving back and forth and going through switchbacks became a rhythmic action, not repetitive exactly but when you know exactly where you’re going and when to go there you can really feel a sense of harmony with the trail. Instead of having to think “turn left, go straight, jump that rock, duck under that branch, carve that switchback, dodge that rock” it becomes one fluid motion, simply riding. It’s hard to describe but I’m sure some people who read this blog will get it. I had that feeling through most of my ride but especially going down Hesitation Point.

I passed the hikers again on my way back and once I finished the Hesitation Point trail I went directly back to the parking lot. That’s a few miles but I was still in the zone and it’s in my memory as one action.  This was the best ride I’d done in quite a while.

Road Ride through Morgan-Monroe State Forest

Sunday was another great day for riding, with a high of 50 degrees it was cooler than Saturday but still not bad. There were winds, headwinds at first that made my ride tough from the start. It was only a 35-mile ride but I was surprised how hard this was for me. Maybe I was worn out from riding the day before and maybe I just haven’t ridden enough lately, but I had to work hard at it. That said, after the first 10 miles or so I felt more warmed up and rode better, but I still felt a bit sluggish.

Old State Road 37

Farmland by Old 37

I won’t go into as much detail about this ride. Once I got going I felt a bit better but like I said it was a challenge. I’ve ridden this route many times before although it was a little different this time because it went by the Hilly Hundred route. This brought back memories of riding the Hilly which I really enjoyed. But I forgot that hunting season started and my peaceful ride through the state forest was marred many times by gunshot blasts, and once by a jeep hauling a buck carcass away. I have no moral qualms about hunting but I can’t understand the motivation behind it — why people take so much pleasure in killing something beautiful. It’s their prerogative, but I didn’t need to see it. Fortunately before long I rode the fantastic descent down Beanblossom Road (a big hill that we climbed during the Hilly Hundred) and out of the forest. All in all it was a beautiful ride on a slightly hazy day.

Me, being a mouth breather once again

Farmland along Anderson Road

Another self portrait

Climbing into the distance

2 Responses to “Two fantastic rides”

  1. furiousball Says:

    the colors of the leaves in that one shot are awesome

  2. Schoffel Says:

    It seems like something is missing, no?

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