Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for November, 2010

A modest metric

Monday, November 8th, 2010

I had been planning on doing a long ride on Sunday. I had even considered riding a century, but when the alarm went off in the morning, I was not ready to get up. I set it back a couple of hours. I had a backup plan, but then my friend Dave texted me to ask if I was up for a ride. That sounded better than any of the ideas I had come up with, so I said yes. And, I rode out to Dave’s house, around 15 miles away.

This worked out very well. It was an odd feeling though at the end of the day, riding a metric century (62 miles) but not really feeling like it was an epic ride. It was really 62 miles of just riding around: to Dave’s house, a solid loop with him, and then taking the scenic/fun route home. Here is a map of the day’s riding, (with a few privacy edits):

Everything about the day was moderate: the route wasn’t super hilly. The temperature was mild, with a high temperature in the 50s. My pace was brisk, but not insane.  It was, however, an absolutely gorgeous day, with not a cloud in the sky.

Here are a few shots from the ride out to Dave’s.

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I was using a new saddle bag, the Medium Saddle Bag from Minnehaha Bags. I got this a while ago on uber sale, but had not yet tried it. I had some issues. More on this in a later post.

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I knew Mount Gilead Road had undergone some construction, and had a new bridge. The bridge was quite nice but the real surprise was that they repaved part of the road, which previously was incredibly rough. It’s buttery smooth now.

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After I got to Dave’s house, I shed a few layers, and we headed out rather quickly. There was more fall color remaining in some areas than we expected.

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We rolled through bits of the always-beautiful Yellowwood State Forest.

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And soon, turned onto Lick Creek Road. I had been on this road once or twice before, but not recently. The road was flat for a while through a beautiful valley.

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Soon we made the climb up to another road which took us over to Carmel Ridge Road. These were new roads for me for a while, and they were wonderful. The road surface was rough in places, but riding through these shady woods on a cool, sunny fall day was fantastic.

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We noticed an unusual number of ponds in people’s yards along the way.

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Stands of green pines contrasted with colorful hardwoods and other already-bare trees in a beautiful display of color.

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We reached a trailhead for the long-distance Tecumseh hiking trail and stopped for a snack.

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The ride was amazing. Given the extreme amount of climbing and rough “road” surfaces I’ve experienced on some recent rides, it felt like I was absolutely flying. The miles just melted away. Carmel Ridge had some very fun descending that contributed to this feeling.

We flew around a corner and Indian Hill stunned us, looming before us with quite a bit of color. Sadly I did a poor job of capturing this below.

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We faced a bit of a climb …

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… and before we knew it, we were crossing Lake Lemon. The wind was really in our faces at this point. It slowed our progress considerably.

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Not to worry, we took advantage of our slower pace to look out over the lake.

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Damn. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Soon we made the big climb back up to Dave’s house. Dave invited me to top off the water bottles, and pet the dogs for a few minutes. Then, I was off.

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Carmel Ridge Road had reminded us a bit of Shilo Road, so now I had a hankering to go ride down Shilo. It’s a wonderful extended descent, actually there are some rolling hills in there as well, but there are a lot of fun downhill sections with crazy twists and turns.

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Right along the edge of some ravines.

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Soon I was on Anderson Road. Now, Mount Gilead Shilo, Anderson, and some others are all roads I used to ride on frequently when we lived on the east side of town. Now, I don’t make it out there very often, so I especially enjoyed it this time around.

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I found a rather unpleasant surprise, however.

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It’s good to be on a bike! I just rode right under this thing.

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And then I was headed back toward town on Old State Road 37, another favorite.

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I rode through Cascades Park, where the empty baseball diamonds appeared a bit eerie.

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The park is always beautiful. Today was no exception. Or maybe it was exceptional.

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Soon I was on my way home. I took one of my commute routes home, which we will call the “short cut with traffic” route. Of course on a Sunday afternoon there was little traffic to be found. Here is one of several good-sized hills on this particular commute route.

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All told, an excellent day of riding. I had a blast “just riding around,” and I’m glad I got to ride with Dave. It also felt great to ride the Bianchi a significant distance — that bike has been rather neglected lately.

The current state of things

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Personal

I’m going back to school in January! After high school, I spent 2+ years at Northwestern University, and then dropped out (it’s a long story). I never finished the Computer Science degree I was pursuing, and I have always intended to go back to school. Well, I am finally going to do it! I got into the General Studies program at Indiana University, right here in town. I’m not sure yet what classes I’ll be taking, but I am looking forward to it. It will be strange to be a student again. I hope I am able to adapt reasonably well.

A couple of months ago, some ongoing contract work was cut way back. My budget has been severely scaled back ever since. And with school coming up, things are going to get tighter.

Cycling

I’m gearing up for winter. It’s difficult with a small budget, but fortunately I already have most of the things I need. However, this winter will be different from last year. My commute is longer, and I will be riding to/from/all around campus, as well. I have decided to use the Trucker as my main winter bike.

Studded tires

I had a pair of studded tires already, but they’re for 26″ wheels, since I used an old mountain bike as my winter commuter previously. So, I knew I would need 700c studded tires. I lucked out and Doug (MnBicycleCommuter) had recently gotten a new set of studded tires, but still had the old ones around, with plenty of life left in them. He offered them to me at a good price. I couldn’t resist. Here is his post about shipping the tires on his Xtracycle. The tires arrived today (already!) and I’m looking forward to trying them out. I’ll need to install them on the Trucker soon to make sure there’s enough clearance under my fenders.

This leads me to wheels. I really wish I had an extra wheelset for the Trucker. This would allow me to keep both my slicks and studded tires mounted on a wheelset, and just swap out the wheels. I am not sure yet if this is going to be in the budget.

Lights

My lighting situation has been less than ideal for a few years. I have a few lights which have been adequate when combined, but again, with a longer commute, I’ll be spending more time riding in the dark. I knew I would need something better. Fortunately, my beautiful wife ordered me a light. It’s not here yet, but I am looking forward to testing it out. It’s going to blow my existing lights out of the water.

This light will also be useful for night rides on the road, mountain bike rides, etc. I can’t wait!

I’m also investing in some more reflective gear. In addition to a longer commute, I’m hoping to get more riding in this winter than ever before. That will mean a lot of riding at night, and I need to stay visible.

I’m not sure yet what else it will hold, but already I can see that 2011 is going to be a very interesting year!

Road riding at night

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

I’ve done a fair amount of night riding, but most of my night rides have been mountain bike rides or commutes. Occasionally I will do a road ride at night, and I usually enjoy it, although I have had a couple of unpleasant experiences with traffic at night. Nothing too dramatic, just some encounters with less-than-patient drivers, but they were enough to make me think twice about taking to the roads at night.

Nonetheless, I’m determined to keep riding as much as possible this winter, and that means riding in the dark. Last night I set out for a ride as the sun was getting low in the sky, and darkness fell over the course of my ride. I had no issues at all on this ride, and it was a wonderful experience.

I rode a very familiar route, which helped, since I had a pretty good idea where the pavement was rough, and where to be especially aware of traffic, etc.

With temps in the 40s, there was a chill in the air, and a general sense of quiet stillness was the theme of the ride. With almost no traffic, I had the roads all to myself. The crisp air held the fragrance of dead leaves, punctuated occasionally by the smell of a fireplace or wood stove.

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I was treated to a beautiful sunset …

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… or, more accurately, several sunsets.

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A few times, I thought the sun had finally dipped below the horizon, only to climb up on a ridge and see it setting once again.

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This creepy barn was also quite a sight.

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Frankly, I’m surprised that the photos so far turned out as well as they did. It was getting quite dark. Things get a little more abstract from here.

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All told, I rode 21 miles, half or so in the dark. And I had a wonderful time.

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