Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Farr out

Monday, September 8th, 2008

I planned to ride on Saturday. I wanted to ride early to beat the heat and finish my ride while Sarah was at work. Unfortunately I had some digestive issues and was feeling pretty crummy. I got up early but went back to sleep for a couple of hours. Even after that, I still felt a bit funky.

However, I really wanted to do a little exploration by bicycle. I looked at Google Maps for a while to try to figure out roughly where I wanted to go and came up with a 60-mile route or so. As usual it took me longer than I expected to get out the door, and I quickly realized that a ride of that length wasn’t going to happen.

No problem, really. I just adapted my plans. I figured I’d ride until I felt like I needed to turn around, since I still wasn’t feeling great.

My usual camera is in the shop. It was damaged in my accident and we just now located the paperwork for the extended warranty I purchased, which covers accidental damage. I may be without that camera for 4-8 weeks, they said, which has me pretty bummed. But at least I can have it repaired or replaced without any additional cost to me. So I brought my old Yashica Lynx 5000 camera with me. It’s heavy and the light meter doesn’t work, but it takes unique photos. They came back looking a little weirder than I expected; I think CVS messed up the processing somehow.

I rode out 45 to Bethel Lane, and took this to Boltinghouse, one of the steepest hills around here. I was going down it, which isn’t as bad, but I’ve mostly avoided even going down it this summer because it was in terrible shape the last time I rode it and I really felt it was dangerous. I am happy to report that they repaved the worst part of it and now I can descend there with relative confidence.

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Hills

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My bicycle by Anderson Rd.

I hadn’t really decided yet exactly where I was going to ride. I wanted to take Anderson to Low Gap and go back down on Bear Wallow, but that was pushing it, distance-wise.

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Field and hills

I headed in that direction anyway and suddenly noticed a small gravel road. I’ve ridden past this very road dozens of times but never paid any attention to it. I decided to see where it went. There was no street sign, but I later discovered it was Jack Weddle Road, which turns into Farr Road. It was a gravel climb for quite a while, but mostly it wasn’t too steep.

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Curvy gravel climb

There was one section where it was steep enough that my rear wheel was spinning out as I attempted to climb. I managed to shift my weight back and keep riding, but I almost had to push the bike up that steep part. I saw logging roads all along this gravel one, mostly overgrown. I believe the land lining the road was part private property and part state forest land.

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Meadow

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Curvy climb on a hard-packed gravel road

I found one old fire road (or logging road) and decided to explore, even though it was overgrown. I rode my bicycle a ways down this “road,” which really was hardly recognizable as such. There were still ruts/gaps in the grass where vehicles had once driven. I rode through the tall grass for a while just to see if I could do it and if I would see anything cool. I saw a wild turkey run away from me. Shortly thereafter, I turned back. This was fun, but I didn’t necessarily want to go too far on a “road” like this.

Fire road
Overgrown fire road

This of course made me think of part of the Chris Whitley song “Fireroad For Two”:

Satellites rise power lines grew
A million miles of fireroads for two
Now she awake the ride on my skin
Drop into drive fueled on the wind

I been making this song tresspassing home
Engine of blood flywheel of bone
Illuminate me illuminate you
We could escape fireroads for two

(Full lyrics here)

The road alternated seemingly randomly between paved and gravel sections for a while. I came upon a (cell?) tower of some kind.

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More gravel

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Tower

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A home with a gated driveway

I soon found myself on Old State Road 37 again. Farr Road ended at Old 37. Looking at Google Maps now I think there’s a way I could’ve ridden another part of Farr up into Morgan-Monroe State Forest on either gravel or fireroads. Might be worth trying sometime.

At this point I decided to go ahead and ride up into the state forest. I rode through and came down Rosenbaum Road (I think) on the other side. This is a long, bumpy, curvy descent. I picked up a lot of speed going down this hill and had to dodge potholes, cracks in the pavement, etc. It was challenging, but fun. A car was behind me much of the way, but I was going faster than the speed limit for some time. There was no need to let the car pass. In fact, I got to the bottom of the hill significantly before they did. I took this hill a lot faster than I would dare on my road bike. Once at the bottom, I got on Low Gap Road and started heading back toward home.

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Low Gap Road

Low Gap is pleasant to ride on. It’s been repaved fairly recently, and it’s flat for a while, but surrounded by hills. There’s an “end county maintenance” sign which I believe is a recent addition. It’s a bit odd because the road is actually very smooth right past that sign. I wonder if they laid a fresh layer of asphault and decided not to maintain it any longer. Time will tell.

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Surrounding hills

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End County Maintenance

The “gap” for which Low Gap is named involves a decent climb, and I stopped at the top to rest. I saw some hikers come down the hill on one side and go back up the other. They were hiking the Low Gap trail, a 10-mile hiking trail in Morgan-Monroe State Forest, and were coming out of the wilderness area, headed back toward the main part of the state forest.

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Low Gap Trail to the left, the road to the right

From here I decided to take a fairly direct route home. Of course that meant a good 25 more miles or so. My trip home was mostly uneventful, but I decided to attempt to climb Boltinghouse on my way home. Note to self: do not attempt to climb Boltinghouse after over 40 miles of riding. It’s not wise. I didn’t do well, and had to stop a couple of times. That’s the first time I’ve stopped while climbing any hill in a long time. And I felt pretty crummy once I finally got to the top. It was only in the upper 70s, but it felt a lot hotter than that when trying to climb grades of more than 20%. Boltinghouse really destroyed me this time.

I don’t often attempt to climb Boltinghouse because well, it’s just not a lot of fun. But now I have a score to settle. I’ll have to go back soon and attempt to win back my pride.

2 Responses to “Farr out”

  1. furiousball Says:

    the shot of the fireroad is really cool. finding overgrown stuff in the woods is always neat looking

  2. Tim Says:

    great stuff. more and more i’m gonna do some IN gravel adventure next summer.

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