Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for October, 2010

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!

Time lapse experiments

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Lately, I’ve done a couple of experiments with time lapse photography.  In the first case, I used Sarah’s camera, put it on a tripod, and set it to take a shot every five seconds. Then, I stitched the frames together in a video. I was shooting the sky and it’s really crazy to see how different it looks this way. As I looked up at the sky it appeared the clouds were barely moving at all. This technique effectively speeds things up quite a lot, and now you can watch the clouds churn, morph, blow across the sky, and dissipate.

I also did an experiment while riding. My helmet cam has an option to take a photo every two seconds, or every five seconds. I set it to two seconds and again, stitched the photos together into a video. I had to use a much lower framerate, though, and the result is a very choppy — but still interesting — video. The example below contains probably 30-40 minutes of riding, condensed into just over 2 1/2 minutes.

I like the results of the first example much more. I hope to do some extended experiments — I had time constraints when doing this one.

Yellowwood Lake Trail Hike

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Last weekend, Sarah and I hiked the Lake Trail at Yellowwood State Forest. Well, sort of. We don’t like half of it, so we do the half we do like as an out-and-back. This way, we have lake views most of the time. Here’s a map of our hike.

It was a gorgeous fall day, highs in the 60s, sunny … perfect, really. It felt good to hike again. Aside from another hike the previous weekend, I’ve hardly hiked since my foot surgery in the spring. Then again, we usually do most of our hiking during the winter anyway.

The lake level reflects how dry things are here. The field below is usually part of the lake.

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Some leaves are starting to turn. Some just died and fell off the branches, due to the dry weather. Others are still green.

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This is a creek … usually.

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Below is a creek crossing that can be tricky, at times. Now it’s dry, you can just walk right across.

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You can sort of see below that much of the lake has no water in it. It looks like a big field or a mud pit in the photo. That’s normally lake.

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Sarah sure was enjoying herself.

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Again, the big open area is normally all water. Now it looks like there’s just a small stream.

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Of course, Rob ran into the water on numerous occasions, getting extremely muddy in the process. It was gross, but he loved it!

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You can sort of see some switchbacks in this next shot. These help make the climb more gradual.

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As we neared the dam side, the lake had water in it. The clouds looked ominous, but we didn’t get any rain.

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We lingered on the dam for a while, taking photos and enjoying the view.

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Then, we turned around and went back the way we came. We hiked around 4.8 miles. It was a wonderful fall day for a hike.  I look forward to cooler weather, it makes hiking even better!

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