Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Did we see y’all in Fer’nan’?

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

On Sunday, I headed down to Ferdinand, Indiana, to ride with the Tim and David from the River City Cycling Society. They live in Louisville, but had planned a long mixed-terrain ride based out of Ferdinand. This was convenient, as it’s somewhere in between where I live and where they live. Our initial route was for over 80 miles, but we ended up with 66 miles for the day. Here’s a map of our route.

Not the Breakdown

I decided not to ride the Brown County Breakdown this year (which was on Sunday). The Breakdown is usually my biggest mountain bike ride of the year. I rode the Breakdown four years in a row, and the past couple of years have been pretty much the same, in terms of route and in terms of general feeling of the ride. When an epic mountain bike ride starts to feel routine, you’ve got to switch things up. Don’t get  me wrong, the Breakdown is a great event, it’s well-run and a lot of fun, but I needed a change. When Tim invited me to ride with them on Sunday, I knew what I was going to do instead.

Auspicious beginnings

We met at the post office in Ferdinand. We expected the route to have a lot of gravel. Well, we saw our first gravel immediately … the post office parking lot was gravel!  As we rolled out, we had a few nice ups and downs on paved roads, and quickly got away from town. We hit gravel very soon and the first gravel roads were hard-packed, smooth, and the riding was fast. These early roads were a lot of fun, but also deceptively easy. It was a beautiful morning, and cool (55-60ish?).

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We joked about making an unplanned stop at this establishment.

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As I said, the riding was good. Here’s Tim, enjoying himself.

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It’s hard to tell, but the house below was TPed pretty badly.

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Signs of fall were everywhere.

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Did I mention the riding was good? The seemingly random combination of paved and gravel roads kept us guessing at what we’d see next. This early portion of the ride was so fun and easy.

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Before long, we hit our first road-not-road of the day. More of a dirt trail. How Tim found this stuff is beyond me. Actually, I know he used a combination of various maps and Google Streetview, but I’m still amazed. He must have looked very closely.

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David navigates the eroded, rocky dirt + gravel road surface.

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Strange occurrences

Just shy of 14 miles into the ride, something very strange happened to me. As we rode under the large power lines below …

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… I suddenly felt myself getting shocked! There were no down lines or anything. I was getting shocked in my hands and thighs, just from riding under the power lines. I felt an odd tingling sensation and mild pain. It must have been from my hands touching the brake levers, and I guess my shorts must’ve rubbed the seatpost slightly. Neither Tim nor David experienced this. I can only assume my bicycle picked up an induced charge and that by touching metal parts, I got shocked.

I was a bit shaken by this incident. It wasn’t terribly painful, but it freaked me out a bit. I spent the rest of the ride nervous about riding under large power lines. Still, we rode on.

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Along the way, we saw a turkey farm, and other assorted farmery.

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More great riding

Things were about to change. We rolled through a wooded area, and by some flowering hills.

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And back onto gravel, for a good climb, and some more wooded riding.

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This was one of my favorite sections of the ride. The climbing, the fall colors, the gravel road, and views of some bodies of water all combined for a magical ride.

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The road had an odd pea gravel texture, for a while.

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Soon we turned onto a very narrow gravel road. This was another highlight as it took us through numerous rolling hills at a good speed, I’d say we were pushing the limits of how fast we could handle loose gravel with slick tires. We all had a few insane moments, trying to avoid hitting rocks or slipping on the gravel.

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Before long we found ourselves in a flat creek bottom, briefly.

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And then the rollers started. They wouldn’t let up for quite some time.

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The pavement ended, but the rolling hills continued. They were fun, but also challenging. Also, the day was starting to heat up. Eventually it’d hit nearly 90 degrees.

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We had a longer climb up to this water tower, and then more rollers after that.

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After some more mixed-surface riding, we reached a pond

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Then, an odd gravel road/trail took us up toward some train tracks. Fortuitously, a train went by as we were taking in the scenery.

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These power lines made me nervous … but I did not get shocked again, somehow. I rode under them as fast as I could.

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After a great doubletrack jaunt across a field …

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… we reached Huntingburg.

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This was around the 40-mile mark, and the first available food/water stop. We had lunch at Wendy’s.

After lunch, we watched a large piece of farm equipment go over a one-lane bridge. They had to fold in their ladder to be able to fit.

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Sometime around this time, we encountered some kind folks in a pickup truck who asked us what sounded like, “Did we see y’all in Vernon?” I said no, knowing we hadn’t been to a place called Vernon. Or Bermon. Or whatever they had said. Either way, no. In a moment,  we realized they meant “Ferdinand,” they just slurred the syllables together … “Fer’n’an‘.” Finally, we realized we had seen them. They were impressed at how far we had gone. It was funny to talk to them, and now I will always think of Ferdinand as rhyming with Vernon.

Soon we faced a nice little climb. I had a nice view, so I stayed back to photograph David and Tim climbing it.

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By the time I stopped taking photos and rode on, Tim was but a speck in the distance. I caught up quickly due to the great downhill I had earned.

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After a small stint on a wonderful dirt road …

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… and a look at a cemetery …

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Soon we were near some-little-town-or-other … Saint Anthony. The climb out of town was brutal, but also very beautiful.

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The route had been fairly hilly already, but here, the relentless hills started. These were much bigger and tougher than the earlier rollers, and they were one right after another. The sun was quite hot by this time and the heat and the hills combined made for quite a struggle.

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Ultimately, we decided to shorten our route. The 82 miles we had planned seemed like too much. We took a couple of short cuts … the riding was still excellent.

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We reached some sort of maintenance/fire road. Really just a big piece of dirt with no grass on it.

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As well as an old bridge, with new telephone wire going across.

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Here is Tim’s beautiful titanium Litespeed Blueridge.

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And my Surly Long Haul Trucker.

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David also rode his Long Haul Trucker, but I didn’t get a shot of it.

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After another climb, we were in Ferdinand State Forest (pronounced “Fernan Stayt Forst”, of course).

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The hills remained relentless. We were really struggling up them at this point. Fortunately there were some fun, lovely downhill sections as well.

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After a bunch of gravel ups and downs we had a big paved climb …

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Then a little flat riding. The evening light was getting good at this point, and the shade finally offered a little respite from the heat.

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If you look below you can see a very steep driveway headed up to the silo. Man am I glad we didn’t have to climb that!

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However, we weren’t done climbing. We still had a couple left.

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But soon, we were approaching Ferdinand.

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We could tell we were getting close as a couple of steeples peeked up over the hillsides.

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A little more climbing, and we were back in Ferdinand.

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This was an absolutely amazing ride. I don’t feel bad at all about cutting it a little short. 66 hilly, gravelly miles is nothing to shake a stick at.

Thanks to Tim for putting together and amazing route, and Tim and David both for inviting me along and being good riding company.  I had a blast!

11 Responses to “Did we see y’all in Fer’nan’?”

  1. Myles/ rattrappress Says:

    Beautiful! The country looks a bit different from your area. You’ve got me thinking about heading up to Pondero’s neck of the woods to ride some dirt roads.

    I’ve read about riders getting shocked while riding under power lines. It was a long time ago (in the 80’s) It was probably in Bicycling Magazine, and the victims were most likely on steel bikes. What were your friends riding?

  2. Apertome Says:

    Oddly enough, David has almost exactly the same bicycle as me … a steel Long Haul Trucker. I think we even have the same size. Tim was riding his titanium Litespeed Blueridge. Neither of the other guys got shocked.

  3. Tim S Says:

    excellent report and excellent pics. love the contrast of the BnW’s. I reposted one on m blog b/c I like it so much. you were a very agreeable riding partner, very patient and even-keeled. Excellent all round!

  4. Chris Says:

    Nice choice agreeing to join in with a ride that Tim planned. I think he’s got some serious skills. What a fantastic looking route. I feel like I missed out on something special. That said, I think 66 miles would have been special enough for me for one day.

  5. DirtBum Says:

    You got some gorgeous shots. Love the dirt road action!

    I haven’t been shocked riding under transmission lines, but I’ve felt a “tingle” and heard the hum. Last winter, riding beneath some lines while it was snowing, the flakes made tiny little popping sounds as they fell.

    We’re just now getting some color here in eastern Kansas; hope to get some good pictures in the coming weeks…

  6. Apertome Says:

    By the way, here’s an article about someone else getting shocked.

  7. David Crowell Says:

    It was a great ride. Thanks for coming. Kudos to Tim for the route.

    Now that I’ve done a little Googling, I guess you’re not crazy about the power lines. They were buzzing pretty good on Sunday.

  8. Jon Grinder Says:

    When I lived outside of Columbus, Ohio (in Pataskala), I regularly rode under a powerline which would make my hair stand up (still had plenty, back then), and would get shocked if I touched the frame on my Cannondale. So, I don’t think a steel bike is required.

    Man, what a beautiful ride! I mean, Colorado is no slouch for biking and scenery, but those pictures really made me want to pack up and head east for a bit of a spin. I may have to go gravel grinding, this weekend…

  9. ryan Says:

    Some wonderful photos among these – some of the B&W images in particular seem to accentuate the contrast between timeless farmland buildings and the cyclists riding by, as if traveling through time to reach this landscape. This looks like a great ride, peaceful but not sedate with lots of varied terrain and great Fall color…

  10. John Says:

    Nice ride. Your hills and dirt roads were a formidable comparison to my hills and winds.

  11. John Says:

    p.s. I got some of the local dialect in Rhode Island also

    Jeet yet?……..Did you eat yet?

    No Jew?…….. No, did you?

    Squeet………Lets go eat.

    Twirly Tweet….. To early to eat

    Most of the women in RI have PSDS by the way.

    The rest use clip on earrings.

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