Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for July, 2010

Bloomfield Covered Bridge with Bloomington Bicycle Club

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

On Saturday, I rode with the Bloomington Bicycle Club again. They were doing the Bloomfield Covered Bridge route, an 80-mile ride west of town. Here is the route.

About 30 people showed up; nearly half of them did the 80-mile route. The other half or so did the shorter 50-mile route. A few riders added an extension down to Williams, IN for a century and then some. I rode the 80-mile route.

After my last ride with some folks from the club, when I had trouble keeping up and ultimately dropped out, I was a little nervous. I thought I’d end up riding with a slower group of riders this time, but I didn’t. I rode with some of the same people, and several others, and the average pace was a little slower this time, but we still maintained a 16.2-mph average over the 80 miles. Even though the pace wasn’t much slower, I fared a lot better this time.

The first major climb was up Victor Pike. I could tell my fitness has been improving. I felt good about my performance on this climb. I wasn’t fast but I still felt good when I reached the top of the hill.

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For a while, I did OK, but was near the back of the pack. We quickly reached some roads that were unfamiliar to me, and some very enjoyable downhills, as well as some climbs.

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One rider had an odd crank. It was really messing with my head. I talked to him later and he told me it’s called a PowerCrank. The crank arms move independently, so sometimes when coasting, he would put both feet down, or rest one foot while turning the other. I think the idea is that it forces you to turn the cranks evenly to get smooth pedaling. In this photo, you can see that the rider in front of me is coasting, with both pedals down.

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For a while, I had trouble keeping up. I fell behind the group a little bit, and it’s very hard to catch back up. Plus, the scenery was just stunning — ridgetop riding with great views, for a while.

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Eventually, I caught up on a downhill and managed to stick with the group this time. For a while, we rode in a double paceline. Unfortunately, riding in a double paceline requires full concentration, so I could not take photos during this time. But, I found that at least I was able to keep up with the group. We saw a few deer along the way, and had some close calls with dogs. One dog almost got hit by a car when he tried to chase us. Another dog ran right out in front of one of the riders, but he managed to swerve and avoid hitting the dog.

Eventually, we reached Bloomfield and made our way over to the covered bridge. Built in 1883, it’s still in good shape today.

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We headed back to Bloomfield IGA for lunch. I think the locals were a little confused with a big group of cyclists showing up at once.

After lunch, I felt surprisingly good. I don’t know if the group backed off the pace a little or if I was just riding stronger, but I wasn’t having so much trouble keeping up anymore. A couple of flat sections did give me a chance to catch my breath. By this time it was getting hot, but the heat was not as oppressive as some other recent rides. Overall, I felt pretty good.

The return trip wasn’t as memorable as the first half, but that may be because I was more intensely focused on the group ride dynamic. There weren’t as many hills on the way back, but the hills we did hit were bigger. The Harrodsburg Road climb was particularly painful.

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I wasn’t really engaged in conversation much of the time; the riding was intense. But I did meet another all-weather commuter. And, another rider had gastric bypass surgery and has lost 180 pounds in the last year. I think this was his longest ride ever. Amazing!

I’m still adjusting to the group dynamic. I’d definitely like to ride this route again sometime, so I can take photos and enjoy the scenery more. The group rides are great for training and generally improving my riding, but photo/exploration opportunities are much more limited.

Mileage, vision, and a brief break from the heat

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

I fell just barely shy of 500 miles for June. I hit 496 on Tuesday, and thought I’d get the few extra yesterday, but I wasn’t feeling well. Alas. I can’t really feel bad about 496 miles in  a month, though. Also, I passed the 2,000 mile mark for the year last week.

Tuesday night, I did a hard training ride. It wasn’t a particularly difficult route, but I rode harder than usual. It felt good, I really pushed it more than usual, but I wouldn’t want to ride that way all the time.

I got contact lenses. They are so much better for riding. I have peripheral vision again! And, now I can wear any sunglasses I want. I picked up a pair with interchangeable lenses. I’m amazed at how much better they are than my old glasses + clip-on sunglasses. It used to be any time I hit 30 mph, my eyes would well up with tears and it’d be hard to see. I’ve passed 47 mph on downhills a couple of times in my sunglasses, with no tears in my eyes whatsoever.

I’ve also found that I really like the red lenses. They’re dark enough to help in bright light, but I can still see in the shadows. And, they just make things look nice.

The weather has been gorgeous the past couple of days. Naturally, it’s supposed to heat up again for the holiday weekend. I’m planning on doing a club ride for sure, and some other riding, but I’m not sure yet what else I will do. We’ll also have houseguests, which will be a lot of fun.

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