Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for August, 2010

Fort Wayne – Ossian – Zanesville

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Sarah and I spent the weekend in Fort Wayne, visiting her family. I set aside some time to ride on Saturday. Initially, I was planning on riding with the 3 Rivers Velo Sport club, who I’ve ridden with before, but their ride was starting at 8:00 am in Roanoke, IN, about a 25-minute drive from where we were staying. After being up late Friday night, I knew there was no chance I’d be getting up that early. Instead, I put together a route south of town. Here’s the route.

In the morning, a few storms rolled through, but based on the radar, it appeared they would blow through, and then the rain would stop. So I waited a while before starting my ride. As soon as the storms stopped, I got ready and rolled out.

It was still overcast and gloomy and the roads were quite wet. I bought some clip-on fenders for the Bianchi but forgot to bring them. Oh well!

After riding on a couple of busy roads very briefly, I was surprised at how quickly the scenery started looking rural.


In fact, within probably about a mile of where we were staying, I found myself on a gravel road.


I have been wondering how the Bianchi would handle gravel, so I suppose it’s just as well. Frankly I’ve been reticent to intentionally take such a nice road bike on gravel roads, but I didn’t hesitate to take the gravel here, that happened to be on the route.

Naturally, the bike did just fine. It sure got dirty, riding on the wet gravel, but that’s OK.


There was even some washboarding and still, the bike did fine. It sure was a rough ride, but I had no problems.


Once I was back on paved roads, I mostly had chipseal to deal with. It wasn’t really much smoother than the gravel.




I crossed I-469.


The roads here are so much flatter than what I’m used to. There were a few small hills here and there, but not many.



The scenery was different from what I’m used to as well. Long flat fields of soybeans and corn, and farms, and a few homes, all laid out in a grid pattern. At home, where it’s hillier, the roads take a much more circuitous path. I prefer my home terrain, but I always enjoy trying to get the feel for different areas.





Soon I reached the small town of Ossian.



It was a cute town, with a nice downtown area.


A bakery, and later a coffee shop, tempted me, but I was only 10 miles into my ride. I kept on riding.




As I left Ossian, I could feel the heat picking up a little bit. It was already quite humid, from the earlier rain. Things also got a little hillier.



And then, I found myself on a gravel road once again.





This time, I was on gravel for a good three miles or so, and a few hills made it a little more challenging. Again, the Bianchi did fine, but I do think that trying to ride gravel with big hills would be a problem, with such skinny tires.



I crossed “Eight Mile Creek” a couple of times.


The next sections of road altered between paved and gravel.







I reached Zanesville, IN. It seemed to be too small to have much of a downtown area. In fact, according to Wikipedia, “Zanesville residents are ineligible for street mail delivery, and thus, must get their mail at the post office.” In other words, it’s tiny.





There was, however, a place called “County Line Pizza & Mini Mart.” It seemed to be part restaurant, part convenience store. It reminded me of Pinnick’s, in Williams.


I stopped here to get some water and have a snack. The lady running the place was very nice and said she had had a few people come through who were riding across the country. Pretty cool!



A little past Zanesville, I turned back toward Fort Wayne. I spent 7-8 miles going due east, on a long, straight road. I am not used to that! It was fun being able to push a big gear for a while.



I passed the small town of Yoder, which seemed to consist mostly of a set of railroad tracks, and a grain company.




Soon I turned back north on roads I had ridden on earlier, including a little more gravel.




This was a fun ride. It was fun exploring a new area, and seeing a couple small towns. I would like to go back to Ossian sometime and spend more time looking around.


Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Last week was the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. The shower peaked Thursday night, but Sarah and I went out both Wednesday and Thursday nights to see what we could see. We drove outside of town a good 20 minutes or so, into a very dark state forest and laid on the ground, on the dam of our favorite lake, looking up at the night sky.

Wednesday, we saw about 15-20 meteors, include 3-4 really long/bright ones. I tried to take some photos, and while I did get some good shots of the stars, the meteors proved difficult to photograph.


In this crop, you can see a meteor. I had to increase the brightness a lot to be able to see it, but it’s there.


The next shot appears to have a meteor, but it’s actually an airplane.



Thursday night, my mom and nephew joined us. I was worried that my nephew, who is 12 1/2, would get bored — even at the peak of the shower, in a very dark location, it can be 10 minutes or more between meteors. It takes a lot of patience. But he was fascinated! And, he was great at spotting meteors. He counted 22 meteors … and he noted that number 5 was the best.

Even if there hadn’t been a meteor shower at all, it would have been a great experience. It’s shocking how many more stars you can see, just by going a ways out of town. We all also enjoyed the sounds of various insects, and the occasional “ploop” sound of a frog jumping in the water, or a fish coming to the surface.

Watching the meteor shower certainly gave me a renewed sense of appreciation for astronomy, and I’m glad my nephew was fascinated as well. My great-great uncle discovered Morehouse Comet, so I guess it’s in our blood!

Nebo Ridge, and some HNF exploration

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

After our great ride in Hoosier National Forest on Saturday, Dave and I did more HNF riding on Sunday. We set out to ride the Nebo Ridge trail, and after that we did some exploration. We found a way to get from Nebo Ridge to Crooked Creek Road. More about that later. Unfortunately, I got my helmet cam all ready to go, and then left it sitting at home. Damn!

You could consider this a mixed-terrain ride, only more on the mountain biking end of the spectrum. It included singletrack, doubletrack, gravel roads, paved roads, grassy trails, etc. Anyway, here’s a map of our ride.

Nebo Ridge is an old favorite of ours. Just a few years ago, Nebo by itself was an epic ride for me. Now, it’s still challenging, but certainly not epic by itself. Fortunately, there’s a ton of other great riding surrounding it, so it’s still a great place to go ride.


This ride on Nebo Ridge can best be described as fast. I think this is probably the fastest I’ve ever ridden it. And, since it has a lot of rolling hills, it’s actually easier at higher speeds than if you’re slogging up each hill. I am in better shape than I’ve been in a few years, so I was flying. Dave hasn’t been able to ride as much this year, but somehow he was going just as fast. I’m not sure how he does it. Regardless, it was just an incredible roller coaster through the woods. Toward the end, I bunny hopped over a log and cleared it completely. I was thrilled, bunny hopping isn’t really something I’ve ever been good at. We were at the end of the trail in a little over an hour. Very fast, for us.



After Nebo, we rode on some roads for a bit. We rode over to Combs Road as if we were going to make the loop it forms with the trail.





Soon we reached the climb at the end of Combs Road.

DSCF6565 DSCF6569

After making the climb, rather than turn back toward the Nebo Ridge trail, we went straight. This took us back down the other side of the hill, on a narrow ribbon through a field of grass, with some great opportunities to catch air.


Normally I keep my wheels on the ground for the most part, but I couldn’t resist this, it was too much fun! I had read that jumping on a 29er doesn’t work too well, but I found it not to be a problem at all. The trail here received little to no maintenance, so we had to do things like climb through this fallen tree.


After a while, we ended up on a gravel road. We thought this would take us in the direction we wanted to go, but we weren’t sure if there was going to be a bridge over the local fork of Salt Creek.



We saw a great place to put in a canoe.


Fortunately, the bridge was intact.



There was a guardrail at the end of the bridge but we were easily able to get over it and ride on the doubletrack on the other side. It was grassy at first, later giving way to dirt. It was a bit muddy in spots but overall not bad. The road followed Salt Creek to where it feeds into Lake Monroe — and beyond.


After this point, the only “traffic” we saw were people in boats, mostly fishermen.








We saw probably a dozen egrets / great blue herons in the lake, and some geese.


We reached a point where we weren’t sure if we would be able to get across. Our maps showed a road that appeared to be interrupted by water. It didn’t look like it went through. We were hoping the water level would be low enough that we could get through.


Fortunately, there was a small land bridge across the water. We were able to get across. If the water level had been much higher, we wouldn’t have been able to get through. By the way, I checked and the water level was 537.56 feet. Normal Pool for Lake Monroe is 538. So basically, as long as the lake is at or below normal pool, we should be able to get through, I think.


Soon, we were right by the Crooked Creek boat ramp. You can’t see it int he photo below, but it’s back in that cove.


We were very excited that we were able to ride all the way through. This opens up tons of possibilities for linking together some amazing rides. It gives us a much closer-to-home starting point for riding Nebo Ridge, but also serves as a link between Yellowwood State Forest and Hoosier National Forest.  Just awesome.

Tim might recognize the name Crooked Creek Road from the ride we did together when he was here, it was along the route. Now that area can be connected to the HNF tracts on the opposite side of Lake Monroe!

After a break, we headed back the way we came. As we were riding along, I was also thinking that this portion would be quite doable on a touring bike. And we saw a few campsites along the way. I’m trying to figure out what it could all mean. A bike with hauling capacity, combined with remote campsites on the lake. It seems like you should be able to do something with those two things.


By this time it was getting quite hot and I was being eaten alive by insects. Fortunately Dave had brought bug spray with him. What a life-saver!

Once I found some relief from the bugs, I could focus once again on the task at hand.



Oh, but what’s this? Beautiful flowering plants covered with butterflies!


We made our way back to the Nebo Ridge trailhead by way of some gravel roads. It was mostly flat, except one big bad hill at the end.


Somehow, we both made it up this grueling climb, late in the ride, in the heat of the day.

Back at the parking lot I was amazed at all the dirt on my legs. Somehow Dave was hardly dirty at all. Not sure how that could be.


As we wrapped things up after the ride, another rider in the parking lot said, “Hey, do you have a blog?”

Of course, I responded that I did. He introduced himself as Bill … he has left some comments on the blog and we have corresponded about gravel roads a couple of times. It was great to meet him and put a face with a name. He had just ridden Nebo plus a whole bunch of Hickory Ridge trails. A more difficult ride than ours, for sure. But he was excited to hear about our discovery.

So, it was another great day on the bike. This time it was 25+ miles on the mountain bike, over the course of four hours. I can’t wait to take advantage of this newfound knowledge.

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