Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for December, 2009

Riding some gravel roads in Yellowwood State Forest

Monday, December 14th, 2009

On Saturday, I wanted to get out and ride my new mountain bike. The trails were way too muddy, so I rode on some of the gravel roads in Yellowwood State Forest. Wikipedia only has a brief entry about this state forest, but its description of the roads is apt:

Many of the unpaved roads within the forest are dusty and narrow, and those driving cars within the forest will often have to ford creeks.

In other words, riding there is lots of fun! It’s also the closest state forest to where we live. Still, I drove there so I could spend my entire ride within state forest boundaries. I did a loop that I’ve done a few times in the past, with some variations. Here’s a map.


View 2009-12-12 Yellowwood Loop in a larger map

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I was hoping I could ride with my friend Dave, but he wasn’t feeling well, so this was a solo ride. It was cool outside, maybe in the lower to mid 30s. There were icy areas in some puddles and creeks.

I rolled through quiet, deserted woods and through creeks …

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And rode up to the dam to get some views of Yellowwood Lake.

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Then continued, on some more gravel roads.

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I climbed a hill, and then reached another access point for the lake. It looked even better, from here.

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Some rolling hills took me to another, icier part of the lake.

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I crossed a couple more creeks, and climbed the one large climb of the whole ride. I noticed some icy creeks and tried to imagine the whole area blanketed in snow. It’s going to be very beautiful once we get a real snow … I’ll have to go back and see it.

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I spent a few minutes on a paved road, then turned back onto gravel. This is where all the climbing paid off, in a long descent. But not before I stopped at a favorite spot at Prange Pond. It was icier than the lake, thanks to being smaller and in a shadier location.

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After the long descent, which was loads of fun, I rolled on paved roads for a few minutes, and re-entered the state forest. Earlier in the day, I had been disappointed that I couldn’t hit the mountain bike trails. But I was very happy with where I ended up. Rolling through my favorite state forest on a beautiful day on my new bike … what’s not to like?

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Pate Hollow hike

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

I’ve been meaning to write about a hike my wife and I did back on November 28. We hiked the Pate Hollow trail, near Lake Monroe. We had hiked there before, but did not hike the entire trail that time. This time, we hiked the entire 7 miles. The additional 3 miles or so were the best part of the trail with some great views of Lake Monroe. I was really glad we finally hiked the whole thing.

It was a hilly 7 miles. The first half was easier, mostly following ridge tops. But the second half was a lot harder, as the trail descended into ravines and climbed back up the hill on the other side, repeatedly. There were several 250+ foot climbs.

All in all, a great hike. Looking at the photos now, it’s a bit shocking how much the weather and conditions have changed in the past few weeks. Just a few weeks ago, we were hiking in short sleeves!

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Cold one today …

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

This morning, the temperature was around 11 degrees F, but with blustery winds, the windchill ranged from -1 to -9. Despite this, I was *too warm* during my ride to work; I was overdressed.

We got a little bit of snow yesterday, and overnight. It couldn’t have totalled more than 1/2 inch, but the wind blew  it around in unpredictable ways. Still, the roads were mostly clear. The bike path, on the other hand, was covered in snow, and there were already a couple sets of bike tracks by the time I got to it. Fortunately, it was dry, powdery snow, and easy to ride through.

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After work, the temperature had climbed to 20 degrees, with windchills in the single digits. I wanted to ride a couple of extra miles, so I decided to check out the relatively new B-Line trail. This thing is a lot shorter than I thought. I believe that the officially-opened portion is only 0.6 miles from end to end. They are building more, but I was disappointed with how little has been built so far.

Needless to say, I rode the whole thing and took a few photos. There is some interesting community artwork along the trail, and it did look like you could continue on gravel past the end, in both directions. Worth exploring sometime, but not today. Maybe sometime soon I’ll bring better lights, or explore on my lunch break.

It was actually a beautiful evening to be out riding, despite the cold. Clear skies, beautiful sunset, and rather quiet streets. I’ve contemplated doing some more riding tonight, but I am not sure if I will get out again or not.

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Boring ruminations on clothing choices

Some people keep a list of different temperatures, and what clothing worked for them in those conditions. I’ve been able to get away without doing this. I’ve just ridden enough that I can guess pretty well what will work, down to about 15 degrees. Below that, I have less experience so it’s difficult to dress warmly enough, without overdressing.

I was fairly comfortable this morning, but I wore too many layers on my torso. I had a wicking undershirt, button-down shirt, a sweater, a fleece, and my wind shell. If I had left out the sweater, I think it would’ve been perfect.

The only parts that were cold were my feet, and I intentionally opted to ride in my work shoes rather than hiking boots so I wouldn’t have to change. So, I expected my feet to be cold.

I finally bought some ski goggles the other day. I wasn’t expecting to use them so soon, but I was very glad that I had them. I *can* ride without goggles down to about 0 degrees. I know from experience that at that point, my eyelashes start to freeze together when I blink. Since it wasn’t *that* cold, I would’ve been OK without the goggles … but they definitely helped.  These goggles have a yellow tint (no clear goggles were available and these were a good deal); I don’t really care for the tint. While it didn’t  impair my vision much, it made everything look surreal, and not in a particularly pleasant way.

The biggest problem, though, is that I lose my peripheral vision with the goggles on. I really need to get a mirror for my commuting bike.

I wore a pair of nylon athletic pants over my work pants. These did a great job of keeping my legs warm, without overheating.

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