Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Mt. Nebo

Monday, October 5th, 2009

This weekend, I set out for a nice, long road ride. I had a route of 60+ miles planned, which would take me through Morgan-Monroe State Forest and up to “Mt. Nebo,” which I saw on some topographic maps. It looked like an interesting area, and a little outside of my normal riding area, so I was interested to see it. My route also had me taking a bit of an adventurous route home, on some questionable roads that might or might not exist, through Yellowwood State Forest.


View 2009-10-04 Mt. Nebo in a larger map

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Fall is here. It seems like it arrived quite suddenly, as temperatures went from warm and comfortable to a bit chilly, seemingly overnight. It takes some adjustment to get used to this and try to figure out what to wear to be comfortable on a ride. In terms of foliage, even though a few trees started to turn a couple of weeks ago, we’re only seeing a little bit of color right now. It’s also harvest time; I saw several farmers harvesting soybean crops during my ride.

My ride started out on familiar roads, although some I hadn’t ridden on for quite a while. I had a fun, but uneventful trip up to Morgan-Monroe State Forest.

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The main road through the state forest follows a fairly flat ridge top. Eventually I came to a point where heavy logging had occurred. I’ve seen this spot before, but never stopped to further explore it. I found a pamphlet explaining the “Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment.”

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What will our forests be like in 100 years?

(Hopefully NOT like what they’ve done here)

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The pamphlet and Web site make this sound like a legitimate academic experiment, but I have to wonder if it’s really necessary to do all this clear-cutting in order to study its effects. Sounds more like a convenient excuse for some profitable logging to me.

I rode over to Cherry Lake and stopped for a break at a picnic table right by the water. A family (mother, father, and daughter) were having a picnic nearby, their bikes parked in the grass. I lingered for a while, enjoying a contemplative moment by the lake.

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Next I had a long, bumpy decent down Rosenbaum Road toward Low Gap Road. This area feels very remote and consists of rugged state forest lands, and once you reach the bottom of the hill, a few homes and many corn and soybean fields.  I took Low Gap to Mahalasville Road. I debated doing a shorter (50-mile route) but decided to go for the full ~65 miles or so.

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Suddenly, the land was very flat, but I could see the ridges where I had just come from jutting up in the distance. I struggled with the wind a bit, but it turned out not to be too bad.

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It remained flat for a while, and I rolled past farms, lakes, and some surprisingly impressive subdivisions. Lots of huge, new homes with large yards. This remote area was surprisingly affluent. After a tough climb, things got flat again for a few more miles.

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I turned onto State Road 252 and had a long climb (for this area) of close to a mile. This was “Mount Nebo.” Not a real mountain of course, but it was a lot of work to reach the top.

This part of the ride reminded me a bit of riding in Pennsylvania: there was a long climb, and as soon as I reached the top, the road turned back downward. And to my surprise, I enjoyed a long descent of probably 2.5 miles, during which time the road went through enough twists and turns to make things a lot of fun — but, I didn’t have to ride the brakes. It was wonderful!

Climbing “Mount Nebo”:

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I turned back onto some back roads and pedalled across some gorgeous rolling farmland.

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Soon I found myself back on a different part of Mahalasville Road. Another decent climb took a lot out of me … but once again it paid off when I got to ride down the other side of the hill. Fun stuff!

Eventually, I turned onto Bear Wallow Road. The route I had put together had me taking Bear Wallow to Possum Trot Road, but I couldn’t tell from the maps if Possum Trot really went through. Some maps seemed to indicate that it did, some didn’t show it at all.

Bear Wallow was paved for a while but soon I passed a “County Maintenance Ends”  sign (unfortunately, I missed this photo opportunity) and the road turned to gravel. It was flat for a while, but soon I reached a hill. I started climbing and really had no idea how big this hill was. I had already ridden 50 miles at this point, so I was moving slowly up this gravel climb. The hardest part of the climbing was over in 3/4 mile but by the time I reached the top of the hill I had climbed for well over two miles. A few dogs showed some interest in me during this time, but none gave me any trouble.

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Once on top of the hill, there were a few small rolling hills and I watched for Possum Trot Road, but my GPS told me I had passed it. I rode back and found a small, muddy, overgrown fire road. This might be fun to explore at some point but bicycles are not allowed here, according to the signs.

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So, instead of taking this “road,” I stayed on Bear Wallow Road. My GPS told me this would eventually connect with North Shore Drive, and I knew how to get home from there. I started riding and very soon found myself riding down the other side of the hill. I was hoping to coast down the hill, but I passed several homes that had multiple dogs, and some of them gave chase. One was particularly tenacious and I had to ride hard to get away from him. It was a crazy, curvy 20 mph gravel road descent with dogs nipping at my heels. Even once I dropped the dogs, I was a little spooked and rode hard down the hill. I did stop at Bear Lake, a small, pretty lake which I don’t think I even knew existed before. I didn’t stick around to explore, but it seemed like a good find.

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Once at the bottom of the hill, I had a few flat miles of riding and then I connected with North Shore Drive.

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I thought about riding across North Shore, which as you might guess follows the north shore of Lake Lemon. But instead, I rode around to South Shore and rode home from there, as that way I would only have one big climb on my way home.

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All in all, a lovely ride. It always feels good to stretch beyond my usual riding area. This ride was mostly paved, but there were 5-6 miles of gravel mixed in. I have some ideas for what should be some great mixed-terrain riding that I hope to do in the next few weeks, especially as the fall colors set in. I love fall!

3 Responses to “Mt. Nebo”

  1. Paul Says:

    Your photos make me want to visit Indiana! Thanks for sharing again!

  2. Jon Grinder Says:

    It’s funny what constitutes a “mountain”, in some places. When I lived in Northeast Mississippi, I regularly drove by Woodall Mountain, the highest point in the state…at 806 feet above sealevel.

  3. Tim Says:

    Excellent travelogue. The way out mixedterrain certainly looked interesting. If we do a mixed ride Nov 1 as planned I’ll have trouble with all those miles you’re putting in.

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