Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for April, 2008

Finally, some mountain biking

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

I heard the trails were in good shape at Brown County State Park, so I went mountain biking last night. Sarah came to the park with me and did some reading in a picnic area. We’ve done this a few times before, and it works out well, although I always contend that I have more fun than she does. She begs to differ. As she says, “you can’t compare riding and reading.” I’m not comparing them, I’m just saying biking is better.

After sitting in our shed all winter, my mountain bike is in need of some serious attention. I gave it a quick once-over, cleaned a bit, and lubed the chain, but it’ll need a lot more work. I think the roof must leak because there’s more rust on my bike than I expected. My mountain bike felt so clunky and inefficient compared to the road bike, but it really does pay off having a heftier bike with a suspension fork on the trails.

I set out, excited about my first trail riding since New Year’s Day. The first thing I noticed is how out of shape I am. All the road riding helps, but on the trails even just pedaling is more difficult.

Part of the North Tower Loop

I also felt stiff for a while, and slow to react to twists and turns in the trail. As I warmed up this got a little better, but I am going to have to work on my flexibility somehow. But overwhelmingly it just felt great to be out, riding on the trails, without the bulk of a jacket. I even saw flowers at some points growing alongside the trail.

It’s a little hard to tell, but in this next shot the trail comes toward you on the left side of the creek, just above the log you see there. Then it swoops around behind you, taking a rock bridge over the creek in a switchback, and spits you out on the right side.

Sweeping trail in the North Tower Loop

It took a little while, but eventually I started riding better. The mountain bike felt more natural, I did a better job of shifting my weight in turns, etc. The sun was low in the sky and casting long shadows. The trail was in good shape except for a few muddy spots.

Long shadows

The creek crossings had water in them, which was great to see. They were dry for most of last year because of the drought.

Creek crossings

I decided to ride the Aynes Loop as well. After a few creek crossings, there’s a really big climb. I made it up the climb without stopping, but it was slow going.

Rocky switchback at the top of the Aynes climb

Hazy hills in the distance

My bicycle

The massive climb pays off nicely, at first with a sketchy, rocky section and then with some great smooth and twisty sections through the woods. You can really fly through most of it and I did so. Traction was great except in one greasy switchback, and I was able to really carve through the turns.

Switchback on the Aynes Loop

After that section there’s some more climbing, and then a wild ride back to the connector trail. I headed back to the North Tower Loop and did the long climb there, then enjoyed the descent back to the parking lot. It was a great first trail ride of the spring. I hope I can get back out there again soon.

On our way home we stopped at Yellowwood State Forest to visit the spot where we’re getting married. The sun was setting and the lake looked beautiful. We definitely chose the right spot.

Yellowwood Lake

Riding the Helmsburg Loop with Dave

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Dave called me on Saturday to see if I wanted to ride with him. I was literally in the process of trying to figure out where to ride when he called, so it was perfect timing. He suggested we ride what he termed the “Helmsburg Loop.” I took him up on his offer, and furthermore rode out to his place to get some extra miles in. I rode my old mountain bike since I figured we might hit some gravel, and I knew he’d be on his mountain bike. We met at Unionville Elementary School, which is near Dave’s house, and also where I met Dan On Bike when we rode together back in November.

It was a perfect day, in the 60s and sunny. Our ride started down State Road 45 through part of Yellowwood State Forest. There wasn’t much traffic and it felt great to ride without a jacket. Dave has only been on a few rides since his spinal cord injury at the end of December. Each ride he does better. I know he can’t wait to get back on the trails, but you can tell he’s thrilled to be riding again, even if it is on the road.

Curvy section of 45
Inviting country road

Dave riding on 45
Dave is happy to be back in the saddle

We turned onto Lanam Ridge road and sprinted up the hill to try to outpace the dogs that live up there. They really wanted to catch us, but we flew past them and once we crested the hill, they didn’t have a chance. There are some nice rolling hills on Lanam Ridge, and some climbing.

Goats along Lanam Ridge

The climbing pays off with a great descent down to Helmsburg Road. We took this into Helmsburg.

Zebra Fire Engine
Zebra firetruck in Helmsburg

We headed back on 45 a bit and took a detour on Indian Hill Road. This is a gravel road with a nasty climb. We didn’t do that climb, though, we just took a break by the creek, which was very high and partially covering the road, while water rushed beneath it.

Crossing the tracks
Approaching the train tracks

Water flowing out from beneath the road
Indian Hill Road

This railroad bridge didn’t look too sturdy

We got back on 45. Soon we reached South Shore Drive, and rode across Lake Lemon. We saw a lot of turtles on logs in the water, and evidence of some beavers.

Riding across Lake Lemon
Riding across Lake Lemon


We climbed up Shuffle Creek Road. I stopped at Dave’s for a few minutes, then rode home. My total for the day: 33.6 miles. Here’s a map of the route:

Hiking at Leonard Springs

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Sarah and I went hiking at Leonard Springs Park yesterday. We were planning on doing a longer hike but we were having a lazy day and decided a shorter one would be better. It was a beautiful 70-degree day, sunny with a nice breeze. I believe the trail is about a mile, not very long but pretty good for a city park. We took Rob (the dog) and he really enjoyed it, except for a metal platform/staircase at the beginning.

Metal platform/bridge
This metal platform is not very dog-friendly
Rock overhang
Rock face over a cave entrance

There are a few different falls there, quite full from all the rain we’ve had, and the water made quite a noise as it cascaded down the hillsides.

Cascades IV
Cascades II
More falls
Sarah, taking a photo

Cascades VI
Slick with moss

Cascades VII
More falls

Sarah and Rob

Wetlands I

New life
Sign of spring

Weird bark
Weird bark

Wetlands III
More wetlands

We almost got stuck there, as the parking lot filled up and people had parked on either side of the entrance by the time we left. We were just barely able to squeeze between the cars and get out.

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