Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for February, 2008


Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

My commute this morning was quite nice, with an inch or so of snow on the ground. Believe it or not, this is probably the biggest snow of the winter so far. This is abnormal; most winters, we get at least a couple of decent (6″+) snows.

Most streets were clear, and it was cold enough (low 20s) that the snow on the bike path was powder for a change. Recently it’s been, if anything, wet snow or ice, usually ice. I didn’t experience any ice this morning, and I enjoyed watching my front wheel plow through the snow. I was running a little late, and campus was full of students going to class, giving me some obstacles as I cut across campus. I arrived at work a few minutes late and wiped the grin from my face before I went inside. Having fun is unprofessional, you know.

I took some photos but can’t transfer them here at work. I’ll post them tonight or tomorrow, hopefully. It’s snowing more as I write this and there’s more in the forecast. Maybe tomorrow will hold even more fun.

Modified Paragon route

Monday, February 18th, 2008

It was a good weekend for riding. On Saturday, it was sunny and around 40 degrees. The only time I have ridden a version of this route before was with the Bloomington Bicycle Club back in May of last year. I looked at the map and it included an out-and-back stretch that went to Paragon and then crossed State Road 37. I decided to leave that portion out, since I would be looking at about 40 miles already and I had other things to do that afternoon.

My ride started with part of my commute route, and on the road bike the bike path was quite treacherous. Most of the snow and ice had melted by this time, but the bike path is shaded, and still had ice on parts of it. This really made me appreciate how much my knobby tires help on ice. My back tire slipped out from under me as I was pedaling uphill. Fortunately I knew falling was a possibility and I kept my speed down, so I fell at around 4 mph. No damage was done to me or my bicycle.

After going through town I headed up through Cascades Park, where the road follows Cascades Creek for a while. It’s a very pretty area, although none of my photos of that part turned out very well. After that I passed the Tibetan Monastery and made the climb up to Kinser Pike, which goes by the Cascades golf course.

Tibetan Monastery
Dagom Gaden Tensung Ling Buddhist Monastery

Clubhouse Drive hill
Climb up Clubhouse Dr.

Cascades Golf Course
Cascades Golf Course 

The roads had been in pretty good shape, but once I crossed State Road 37, I was getting further from town and the roads got much sandier. I went more slowly than usual because traction was sketchy and patches of sand could come up unexpectedly. And since I’m not familiar with these roads, turns and hills were unexpected to me as well.

The first part of my ride was deceptively easy, with no major climbs for quite a while. I was cruising along at a pretty good clip through cornfields, passing by farms and rural houses.  I remembered taking a photo in this area in May and tried to get the same shot at this different time of year for comparison. Here are the results:

Field by Bottom Rd
Field by Bottom Road, February 16, 2008

Mount Pleasant Road
Field by Bottom Road, May 8, 2007

I think the route I took differed a bit from before, as then we rode by Mount Pleasant Church, which I did not see this time. Next time I may try to include that in my ride as it’s a neat country church.


New Drainage ditch — notice the clumps of dirt still off to the side of it on the left side


I got comfortable with the ride being so easy — and then the hills started. There were several good-sized climbs. In one, the sand-covered road climbed gradually, then steepening and going into a turn, followed by some more gradual climbing. It was tough, and I look forward to getting in better shape. But I’m already a strong rider now than I was last May, probably, so this year looks promising for riding. There were also some really nice rolling hills that were a lot of fun.

Winding Road
Sandy, twisting road with rolling hills

There were some electrical or telephone line poles laying on the ground for a while that almost looked like crosses. It was more than a little eerie. They seemed new so I assumed they were waiting to be installed, but they also looked shorter than the existing poles, so I’m not sure what to make of that.

Electrical pole laying on ground
Electrical pole awaiting installation (or crucifix)

I have been mostly avoiding riding new routes this winter, as I sometimes tend to get lost and when the condition of the roads is questionable, it’s really helpful to ride on familiar roads. I lucked out on this ride as all the turns I had to make had street signs, something that isn’t guaranteed when you get to remote areas like this. Many roads on the southwest side of Bloomington in particular don’t have signs. I really enjoyed breaking my routine and trying a different route. It doesn’t hurt that it’s really beautiful country out there. It’s a different area from where I’m used to riding and has its own character, with some great views from hilltops, but also some flat farmland and rolling hills, and roads that more or less follow a creek for miles.  It’s a really interesting combination of terrain.

Barn and tree
Barn and tree

Before long I crossed the highway again and found myself in Morgan-Monroe State Forest. At this point I was on familiar terrain again and I stopped to call Sarah and let her know I wouldn’t be home as soon as I’d projected. I believe I was about 25 miles into my ride at this point and estimated it’d be another hour or longer before I got home.  I had at least 15 miles to go.


Bicycle, forest, road
Bicycle, forest, road

I picked up the pace a bit, being back on familiar roads, although they remained quite sandy.

Rock face on Old 37
Rock face along Old 37

My ride home was pretty uneventful from this point. I took Old 37 to Bethel and took that over to State Road 45, seeing a few other cyclists along the way. I faced a headwind during the last few miles of my ride, but it wasn’t too bad. My front derailleur threw my chain on one climb, and at first I thought I had broken my chain. With a little work I managed to get the chain back on the chainring and finish the ride. All in all, my ride totaled 40.9 miles. My pace was slow at about 15 mph, but I felt good about doing a ride of this distance in February.

Sunday was even warmer, with temperatures above 60 degrees, but I only managed to ride about 4 miles in a couple of neighborhoods. There were high winds at 35 mph, gusting to 45 mph and above, and I had other things to do. Still, it was a good weekend of riding, for February.


Friday, February 15th, 2008

I’ve been sick the past couple of days. We had a bit of snow, and yesterday it was warm enough for some, but not all, of the snow to melt.

This morning it was 35 degrees, which felt very warm and comfortable to me.There was a chilling wind, but still, 35 is pretty warm compared to the commuting weather to which I’ve become accustomed. I still felt sort of sick upon departure. The snow on the bike path had melted and then re-frozen, leaving ice of varying thickness and smoothness. I went slow, feathering my rear brake and trying to brake in the few places that had exposed asphalt (the bike path is mostly downhill in this direction).

I tried to ride on the rougher ice toward the sides of the path to increase my traction, and it helped, but I still slid around a lot. Each time I tried to pedal, I found myself fishtailing, especially going uphill. But I managed to keep my front wheel from sliding, and stayed upright. I just let the rear wheel slide beneath me when necessary and it wobbled a bit but ultimately was OK.

By the time I arrived at work, I felt a lot better. It was a really pleasant ride, and I wished I could’ve just tooled around town. Alas, work awaited.

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