Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for January, 2008

First road ride, and first flat tire, of 2008

Monday, January 7th, 2008

It was around 40 degrees on Saturday, and Sarah and I took advantage of the warmer weather to go hiking at Morgan-Monroe State Forest. We hiked the 2.7-mile Mason Ridge Trail, which was cool despite the fact that it crosses the road a few times. The downside was that part of the trail was closed for logging. The more I learn about (and see first-hand) the logging that goes on in our state forests, the more it upsets me. They claim it’s sustainable, but I’m not sure I’m convinced. We had a good hike though, despite that and despite the fact that we had trouble following the signs and maps we had.

It’s incredibly warm here now — it was around 60 degrees yesterday, with a high of 69 predicted for today. For January, this is insane. I took advantage of the warm weather to go for a bike ride yesterday. I chose the Ride Around Lake Monroe route, which  I’ve ridden once before. This ride also goes to the same area as Dr. T’s Funky Fifty.

Despite the warm weather, it was a pretty dreary day. It wasn’t raining while I was riding, but it had been earlier, so the roads were covered in water and grime. And it was overcast to the point where I wasn’t sure how well my camera would work. Fortunately, it did work. Anyway, I set out on Smith Road and took Moore’s Pike over to 446, which took me away from town. Traffic was light but winds were harsh, gusting to some 30 mph, and I rode into the wind for the first 12 miles of my ride or so.

Riding across Lake Monroe is always a highlight of any ride that takes 446 across the causeway. The lake had a weird blue-green hue, not the kind of green that makes you think of algae, but something a little brighter. Contrasted with the grey clouds and dark hills in the distance, the color of the lake seemed emphasized, and it looked almost surreal.

Lake Monroe
Lake Monroe had a weird blue-green hue

After Lake Monroe is a big climb that took a little more out of me than it should have. The lack of riding as of late is taking its toll.

Hill
Hill after crossing Lake Monroe

Limestone
Limestone lines the road on another part of the climb

After that hill, 446 is pretty easy for a while, a little curvy but not very hilly. I took 446 to Chapel Hill Road, which is a fun road to ride on. At some point I realized that this route is roughly the same as the Hoosier Hills 60K route and for a while followed Dan Henrys. Chapel Hill has some rolling hills and a patchwork surface from workers patching potholes many times. For some reason I love riding on this kind of road more than roads with a perfectly smooth surface. It has a lot more character, each patch reflecting some part of the road’s history. It also makes things more challenging, choosing a good line, rather than ambling down the road without giving it much thought  — which is also great, just different.

I passed Krazy Joe’s Trading Post, which I’ve written about here before. I didn’t stop this time and I took some photos, but don’t feel the need to post more. For more about Krazy Joe’s, see my blog post Food, fiddlin’, and fun … plus caskets.

I rode further and the map didn’t match what I was seeing. To make matters worse, a number of roads didn’t have street signs. So, I got lost. Well not lost exactly, but I wasn’t sure what road I was on, or how to get to the road the map said to get on. I passed a church with a cemetery and a tattered flag, like so many flags around here have been since the winds hit a few weeks ago.

Point of view
Point of view riding shot

Chapel Hill Pentecostal Assembly
Chapel Hill Pentecostal Assembly

Tattered flag
Tattered flag

I took what I later determined to be a wrong turn and started noticing a weird squeaking sound as I pedaled. I thought it was my bottom bracket at first, but then I realized my tire was flat. I wasn’t sure, really, if it had just gone flat or if it had been slowly losing air, or what. I stopped and pumped some air into it to see if I could hear where the hole was. I couldn’t hear anything so I inflated the tire the best I could and continued riding back toward where I thought I had made the wrong turn. My tire continued losing air. I got onto what I thought was the right road and stopped by a forest across from an abandoned house to fix my tire.

Run-down house
Abandoned house

Normally, I would patch my inner tube and try to keep using it. Since I couldn’t find the leak, I had no choice but to install a fresh tube. A dog at a neighboring house took an interest in me and I almost moved elsewhere to get away from the dog, but he stayed on his property and watched intently without disturbing me. I felt the inside of my tire and the rip strip to see if I could find anything that might have poked the inner tube, but couldn’t find anything. I installed a fresh tube and it seemed to be holding air. After pumping for what seemed like forever, I was on the road again. I couldn’t help but feel a little jinxed because 2/3 of my rides in this area have been plagued with mechanical problems, first my cracked rim on Dr. T’s Funky Fifty, and now this. And every time I’ve ridden out here, I’ve gotten lost.

Rough, hilly road
A pretty place to change my tube

Pine-lined road
Pine trees

I soon determined that I was on the wrong road again, but I was on Coveyville Road, which was the next road I was supposed to turn on. So I kept going, knowing that this would get me to where I needed to be. This turned out to be a more fun way to go, I think, and it had me ride down a big hill and then climb up to the intersection of Hardin Ridge (I think) and Coveyville, which looks out over some farmland and a pond, with hills in the distance.Coveyville Panorama
Coveyville Panorama

After descending into a valley, the road becomes straight and flat for probably 3/4 mile, quite a dramatic change from the twisty, hilly roads I’d been on.

Straightaway
Flat, straight road

After this brief and easy flat section, the road turns and begins a climb labeled “The Alps.”  While I’ve never seen the real Alps, I suppose this name is apt. There’s a really long climb and once at the top you can, at this time of year, see through the trees to see valleys and hills after them, and the lake appears to be suspended on a hill; presumably I must have been seeing the dam. It was beautiful, but I knew my camera would focus on the forest and miss the scenery beyond.

I eventually got lost again. I was supposed to find Ramp Creek Road, but I saw nothing with that name. I need to look at some real maps of this area and see if I can’t figure out how things connect. I always get lost here and the Bloomington Bicycle Club maps do not at all seem to match the roads as I see them. I’m a decent map-reader, so I really do think it’s the map.

Lake Monroe
Lake Monroe

From here I decided to try to find Ramp Creek Road, which turned out to be a bad move as I passed where I feel I should have turned and ended up taking a really stupid route through town. Something similar happened on a past ride, but this was worse. I’ve never gotten lost so many times on one ride before … especially in my own town! I also ended up riding on some much busier roads than I would’ve liked. Drivers were courteous, but this was not a good way to go. I’m not sure what I did, but I need to familiarize myself with these roads. Perhaps a drive out in that area is in order.

Despite my flat tire and getting lost, I very much enjoyed this ride. I’m glad I took advantage of the rare January warm weather and rode longer than I have for a while. My ride ended up being just shy of 45 miles.

Silo, silhouette, sky
Silo silhouetted against the sky

Best rides of 2007

Friday, January 4th, 2008

I’ve been meaning to post this for some time now, but I keep getting sidetracked. Before I get to the list of rides, some commentary. I got my road bike in January of 2007, after doing a lot of mountain biking the year before. This is the first time I’ve owned a road bike since I was a kid. I reconnected more with cycling in 2007 even more than in 2006. I started road biking again, and loved it. I started commuting in March, and have ridden to work most days since then.

A few statistics:

2007 total miles: 3586.48 (251 rides)
Road: 2468.40 (97 rides)
Mountain biking: 412.95 (29 rides)
Commuting: 720.70 (119 round trips)
Errands: 30.47 (10 rides)

Now, onto my best rides of 2007, in chronological order. Each links to my blog post about that ride, and I’ll post one photo from each ride, if possible. It’s taking a lot of restraint not to list a hundred rides here.

02/05/2007: Snowy trails winding through blue forests

Snowy trail winding through blue forests

03/05/2007: Moore’s Creek Road exploration
Do you think this road is closed?

03/12/2007: My first bicycle commute

05/10/2007: Riding home on 45
trestle1

06/11/2007: Ride around Lake Monroe
Valley Mission Road

07/26/2007: Bloomington Rail-Trail
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08/13/2007: Two Thousand Miles

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08/20/2007: Franklin, NC by bicycle
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08/22/2007: Mountain biking at Tsali (no blog post about this yet)

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09/03/2007: Pre-Breakdown Shakedown

09/30/2007: Brown County Breakdown 2007

Dave and DJ resting before climbing up trail 18

10/07/2007: Dr. T’s Funky Fifty (made the list even though I cracked my rim)
Riding across Lake Monroe

10/13/2007: Hilly Hundred Day One
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10/14/2007: Hilly Hundred Day Two
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10/24/2007: A lovely evening ride
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10/28/2007: Nashville Ninety
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11/18/2007: Foliage peak at Brown County State Park
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11/26/2007: Black Friday mountain biking: Oriole West and Tipsaw Lake
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11/28/2007: Riding around Lake Lemon with Dan on Bike
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12/02/2007: Rainy Water Works Ride
Bicycle on bridge

12/16/2007: Snowy Road Ride
Snow drifts in road

Warming up

Friday, January 4th, 2008

This morning’s commute was downright balmy, at 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of the snow has either blown off the roads or melted by now, so conditions were pretty good aside from excessive salt all over the place. This is really going to take its toll on my bicycle, I think. It’s supposed to warm up this weekend, so maybe I can give my bike (or bikes) a good, thorough cleaning.

I wore my orange wool sweater and my Descente Element jacket today, and I was plenty warm. When it gets really cold again, I may try that jacket with a few layers beneath it, rather than my heavier winter coat.

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