Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for October, 2009

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


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.



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.”


What will our forests be like in 100 years?

(Hopefully NOT like what they’ve done here)



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.



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.




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.


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.






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”:



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






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.






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.



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.


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




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.





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!

McGowan Road and Friendship Cemetery photos

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Sarah and I went for a drive out McGowan Road, where I have done some cycling, so we could do some photography. I decided going into it that this would be a fully manual, black and white outing. I brought my DSLR, and while it doesn’t have a B&W feature, as soon as I got home, I had my computer convert my photos to B&W before I even looked at them. I attempted to capture the overcast autumnal evening vibe that we were feeling. Tricky, without color, but I think it worked. First, here are some nature shots, and a couple of my wife.


















After we had done some nature shots, we decided to head over to Friendship Cemetery, which I had passed, but I had not stopped to explore it. We found some very old gravestones, some of which had eroded to the point that you couldn’t make out the markings on them.








This next one is creepy (Sarah J. being my wife’s name) — seeing it creeped us out but I think my photo made it worse.






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