Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for September, 2009


Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

On Sunday, Sarah and I went for a drive to the west of town, out to the near ghost town of Patricksburg. We intended for this to be a photography-oriented outing, but we ended up doing more driving than shooting. Still, we did stop at a couple of different places to take some photos. I brought my DSLR, which has been neglected for some time now, as I always take a small point & shoot camera on my bicycle rides. Here are some of my best shots from that day.











I’ve noticed that my cycling photography has left an indelible stamp on my style. I take lots of photos of roads, even when I’m not riding.

It was a wonderful afternoon with my wife. I hope we can go on more outings like this soon. And, I’ve got to get my DSLR back into regular rotation, it is so much better than the point & shoot camera!

Riding, but not writing

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Despite the fact that it’s rained a lot, and I haven’t written much here, I have done some great riding in the past week. Here are a few highlights.

Friendship, Getty’s Creek, Mount Gilead roads

After a very rainy day, I did another ride near the waterfowl resting area. The roads were still wet and it was terribly humid, to the extent that my glasses were fogging up. But the scenery and evening light were quite beautiful.






It’s a little hard to make it out, but in this next photo you can see a turkey vulture, startled by my approach, swooping up away from some roadkill.



Yellowwood Loop

View 2009-09-24 Yellowwod Loop in a larger map

This was a great ride in the rain. My friend Dave and I had been planning to ride and while the rain made the trails too muddy, we hit the gravel roads in Yellowwood State Forest. I didn’t bring a camera due to the conditions, but this was a really fun ride. A good (but not too grueling) climb up the gravel Yellowwood Lake Road,  then over to Dubois Ridge (also gravel) for some rolling hills mixed in with a lot of fun descending. I was expecting this ride to be rather grueling given the hills and the rain, but it was a blast. I rode the mountain bike, and some adjustments I made seem to have helped a little to make me more comfortable on that bicycle. I still have more tweaks to make, but progress is good.

Nebo Ridge plus Hickory Ridge trails 19-18-20

View 2009-09-26 Nebo & Hickory 19-18-20.kml in a larger map

On Saturday, Dave and Ken and I headed out to Nebo Ridge for some mountain biking. We all rode well … Ken turned in an especially strong ride, given that he has asthma and forgot his inhaler.

Nebo is always one of my favorite trails. With all the rain we had gotten, we were a little unsure what the conditions would be like. We were pleasantly surprised. Only the very beginning of the trail was particularly muddy. Once we climbed up onto the ridge, conditions were good. There was some mud here and there, and it slowed us down a bit, but it wasn’t bad at all.

I really expected to just ride Nebo Ridge, but we were all feeling strong when we reached the end of that trail and headed over for Hickory Ridge trails 19, 18, and 20. Now, both Nebo and Hickory Ridge are in Hoosier National Forest and are shared with horse traffic, but Hickory Ridge is less maintained and sees more horse traffic. It’s a real back-country experience. The mud this time made for a wilder ride than in the past.

Trail 19 was not too muddy, but there was more climbing than I remembered. 18 has some truly awesome descending, which was even more fun with the mud. A few times, I felt my rear tire fishtailing. It’s quite an experience to go bombing down a hill, dodging horse shit and puddles and trying to be prepared for the twists and turns the trail throws at you. We all rode well though and to me this is mountain biking at its best. I love the groomed, roller-coaster trails we usually ride on at Brown County State Park, but I love how rugged these trails in the national forest are.

We were all quite tired by the end of the ride, but Dave had brought some Bass Ale and we were very glad he did. There’s nothing like a cold beer after a ride.

Huntington Bicycle Challenge

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Last weekend, my wife and I went to Fort Wayne to visit her family. When we lived in Bloomington before, we’d make this trip frequently. Often, I will try to find a ride to do while we’re there. This gives Sarah and her family some time together without me, and I get to ride. It works out well.

This time, I contacted Bill of the Big Oak Bikes blog to see if he wanted to connect for a ride. He was up for it, and we decided to do an organized ride, the Huntington Bicycle Challenge. Bill has a writeup of the event here. Here’s a map and elevation profile. You’ll notice that northern Indiana is a lot flatter than the southern part of the state — but that’s not to say that there weren’t any hills — there certainly were.

View Huntington Bicycle Challenge 09/19/2009 in a larger map


Bill picked me up early in the morning and we headed down to Huntington. We ended up waiting around at the start point for about half an hour while they had several other groups of riders start before those of us who were doing the 65-mile tour ride. The waiting was a little frustrating, but after that everything went very smoothly.

The first few miles we kept a conversational pace. Although the ride had started in downtown Huntington, within just a few minutes we were out in the country, where we followed the Wabash River for a bit. Somehow, I managed not to get any photos of the Wabash.




We rode with this character for a while (sadly, I can’t remember his name). He had rigged up some pieces of PVC pipe which attached to his handlebars. This allowed him to have a very upright posture, which he said made it easier on his back and neck. He could hold the tubes straight up and down, or horizontally, for different hand positions. I was skeptical, but it seemed to work well for him. In fact, he outpaced us for a little while.


The biggest challenge of the day was the wind. It was fairly strong and out of the ENE. Every time we turned to the east or north, the riding got tough.

The scenery was fairly constant: lots of corn and soybean fields, now mostly a golden yellow color. We did go by a couple of rivers, and two different lakes (Salamonie and Huntington reservoirs). The roads were straight, and flat, mostly, but not entirely.





As we rode across Salamonie Reservoir on a bridge, we took each other’s photo. Bill has one of me on his site. Here’s the one I took of him.


It was quite a beautiful lake, and we rode near it for a while.


At some point, we picked up the pace considerably, even doing some drafting. It had been a long time since I had done that and we were really pushing it for a while — or at least I was. I was worried for a while — I knew I could not sustain the pace we were riding for too long. Bill is a strong rider, and with five centuries under his belt this year, he has some serious endurance.



The first 40 miles went by surprisingly quickly. But miles 29 through 41 were the hardest — basically, straight into the wind. We took turns pulling, which definitely helped, but a few gradual-but-long climbs directly into the wind were quite a challenge.

We went through the small town of Warren, IN, and stopped at a SAG. After eating some snacks and resting, we started moving again. But we made an unspoken decision to ride much slower for the rest of the ride. I’m not really sure how it happened, except that we had both pretty well worn ourselves out riding into that headwind. The rest of the ride we were back to more of a conversational pace. Fortunately, even though I was tired, the rest of the ride didn’t feel like too much of a slog. Just slower.




Fortunately, a lot of the last 10-15 miles we had a tailwind. A few rolling hills toward the end were a lot of fun as well. Before long, we were back in Huntington.



This was a great ride. It was a pleasure to meet Bill, and ride with him. This also let me take advantage of his knowledge of the local history, and the land. Bill told me some very interesting things about the Wabash and Erie Canal, about which I now feel compelled to learn more. The Wikipedia page is a good starting point. He also told me about a dairy farm that was shut down because they dumped manure into the creeks, and talked about soybean growing seasons. These are the kinds of tidbits of local knowledge that I love to hear about and would otherwise miss. He’s also a strong rider, and it was fun to push myself more than usual.

Also, if you ever have a chance to ride the Huntington Bicycle Challenge, I recommend it. There is also a race option, which covers much the same area, except that part of it is on mountain bike trails. I might be tempted to try that sometime.

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