Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for June, 2008

My neighbors’ bicycles

Friday, June 20th, 2008

If I look out our kitchen window, just as the sun is setting, I see angular light streaming into the corridor of the adjacent apartment building. There are often bikes parked there, and every time I see it I think it’d make a great photo. Finally the other night we were about to leave and I saw this once again. I couldn’t take it anymore, grabbed my camera, and took a couple of shots. Here they are — I think they turned out pretty well.

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Mountain biking at Brown County

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

I haven’t done much mountain biking this year. More and more, I’ve been appreciating the fact that when I ride on the road, I can leave from my front door, rather than driving 30 minutes each way or more to a good mountain biking trail.
But last night, Dave and I rode at Brown County, and I was reminded of how much I love mountain biking.  Tight, twisty trails, holding on for dear life during the descents, harder climbs, lack of traffic, and more remote locations are all unique to mountain biking. And I love all of it. The mountain biking experience simply can’t be replicated on the road.

I rode well. We rode the North Tower Loop in good time and headed toward the Aynes Loop, which Dave rode last weekend for the first time since his wreck. Dave felt up for tackling it again, and I was hoping to ride it. The climb felt longer than I remembered, (and I remembered it being long). But it’s 10 solid minutes of climbing, and I can’t think of a road climb that compares. I can think of steeper road climbs (North Shore Drive, Boltinghouse etc) but nothing that requires the same level of sustained effort. And certainly nothing that throws a bunch of big rocks in your way just as you are almost at the top.

I made it over those rocks without too much trouble, but when we started down the other side, I picked the wrong line and choked by the even bigger rocks on that side. I’ve ridden over/around them enough times to know there are a few ways that work, but the way I was headed was not one of those ways. I  stopped and walked over those rocks. I did much better after that.

The trails were in superb condition. Some areas Dave said were mud holes last weekend are now just slightly soft, and overall the trail surface was just wet enough to be tacky. Traction was great.

The climbing on the Aynes Loop always pays off during the descent, and this ride was no exception. We flew around countless switchbacks. Over logs and rocks. Up a few more climbs. And finally made the final, rocky descent back down to the other trail. After another long climb, we really let loose on our way down to the parking lot.

Our ride was only a 9-10 miles, but it felt much longer (in a good way). I hope to get some longer mountain bike rides in soon; I’ve been missing it more than I realized.

Another fun Shilo ride

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Last night I rode the Shilo Road route that is always so much fun. I set out a little unsure whether there’d be flooding on Shilo or Anderson, but there wasn’t.

There was something about the light during this ride that was truly wonderful. Warm and golden, rays of light increasingly radiated from behind hills and trees, drops working their way through the canopy and splashing on the pavement below. And it was windy, and cooler outside than it has been for a while (in the 70s), so the sunlight felt good, rather than overheating me. This was one of those rides where everything just looks better, and feels better.

The wind was just strong enough to give me a boost when at my back, but not strong enough that riding into it was a struggle. I rode out 45 to Mount Gilead and enjoyed a swift descent into the valley. The road surface here just keeps getting rougher, and there is still some sand at the bottom of the hill, forcing me to keep my speed in check.

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Barn on Mount Gilead

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Rough road

I climbed out of the valley. I felt strong, and climbed in a higher gear than usual. I spun up the hill with relative ease, compared to how much I sometimes struggle with it. I am finally starting to feel like I’m getting back in shape after really losing a lot of ground this winter.

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Part of the climb

I saw some weird shadows at the top and rode by some more farms, where the corn is really taking off (finally).

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Cool shadows

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Corn. We have lots and lots of this.

After riding Mount Gilead, I headed over and took Tunnel Road down to Shilo. Shilo always has an extremely rough surface, but it’s just getting worse. Somehow, for me, this makes it more fun. It’s great fun darting downhill and around a sharp turn, dodging potholes and other anomalies in the process. It requires more thought and more finesse than most roads.

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Shilo Road
My ride on Shilo was intense, but uneventful. Even the dog that usually chases me was nowhere to be seen. There was no flooding on any of the roads I rode on, it seems to have largely subsided. Sometimes it’s hard to predict how long some of these areas will remain flooded, and I often forget that the water seeps away and evaporates much more quickly in the summer. Some fields remained flooded.

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The always-scenic landfill

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Anderson Road

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Windblown grass and flooded fields

The climb up old 37 is always a long one, but once again I felt strong and kept my speed a bit higher than usual. It felt great.

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Old 37

The light just got better as I rode on, taking Bethel Lane back over to 45.

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Field, sun, trees, clouds

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Long grass

This was a great summery ride, without being too hot. I am loving these long days. Being able to easily fit in a 26-mile ride after work and still having plenty of light is fantastic. I really could have ridden further, but we had other things to do, and I was hungry. I think I could probably fit in 35 miles before dark … maybe one of these days, I’ll try to find out.

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