Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for January, 2011

New year, new terrain

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

My friend Dave and I had been trying to connect for a ride all last week, but schedules and conditions conspired against us. We did, however, get out for a New Year’s Day ride. He came up with a great idea that would take mixed terrain to the next level. Here’s a map.

Even though temperatures the day before had climbed to nearly 60 degrees, it was in the 30s during our ride. However, the strong south winds remained.

We rolled out.

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Along the way, we ran into Doug, a friend of Dave’s who I’ve ridden with a couple of times before. We talked to him and his wife for a few minutes before going our separate ways.

There were some good hills, and nice views, along Ketcham Road.

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After about nine miles, we reached the Cedar Bluff Nature Preserve.

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We locked our bikes in a ditch …

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… and headed out on foot to hike the trail. I guess you could call this a mixed-mode adventure!

The creek was high …

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With pervasive evidence of beavers …

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The trail became more rugged, involving careful rock-stepping alongside the creek.

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Here I am making my way across some rocks (photo by Dave).

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Looking up at the bluff.

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The bluff is a very narrow point.

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I was testing some new hiking/biking shoes. I’ll write about them later. First impressions are positive.

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This was my first time on the trail, while Dave had hiked it many times before. His knowledge came in very handy. He knew the best place to stop and skip rocks in the creek.

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Now we had a scramble up the back side of the bluff, on wet, leaf-covered, mossy rocks. Needless to say, they were quite slick. We made it up without incident, with Dave making it look like a breeze.

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The top afforded us excellent views.

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It’s odd to see the cedars growing right out of the rock.

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The back side of the bluff had a ravine with a creek in it.

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We enjoyed a snack while we took in the views. What a great spot!

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Now, it was time to walk back down the way we came. Once again, it was tricky.

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Here I am coming back down (photo by Dave).

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Once again, Dave made quick work of it and got down off the bluff well before me.

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Now we had to retrace our steps back on the rocky creek shore.

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Dave pointed out this very funny pair of trees, known as the “upside-down lady.”

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It wasn’t a long hike, mileage-wise (maybe 1.2 miles) but it was a tricky one, and we took time to explore.

We got back on our bikes and rode back, taking a different route that added a few miles but had fewer hills.

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Soon, we had a tailwind. Sweet!

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We turned onto Gore Road, a new road for me and a great find. Thanks to Dave for showing me this alternative to Old State Road 37!

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We still had to spend some time on Old 37, but Gore Road avoided a few miles of it in fine fashion.

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We made our way back to my house. Ride + hike together totaled 21 miles or so, but neither part was easy. This was a lot of fun, and we already have ideas for other, similar outings.

I took a break from biking and hiking the next couple of days, and spent some quality time with my wife. The break was much-needed, as was our time together. Now I feel refreshed and ready for all the craziness that this year has in store for us.

I hope everyone is having a Happy New Year!

Last ride of 2010

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

I had New Year’s Eve day off from work, and I was 45 miles shy of 5,000 for the year, so I obviously planned to ride. The forecast called for a high of an incredible 55 degrees, incredibly warm for this time of year. Unfortunately it carried with it strong winds and a chance of rain. I planned a very interesting route, different from any one route I’ve ridden, but incorporating parts of several routes and some new roads. The route was 52 miles, but RideWithGPS shows 4100+ feet of climbing. I think this is a bit of an exaggeration, but the hills were nearly constant.

I decided to err on the side of caution and ride the Trucker. I was tempted to take my Bianchi Imola, as it’s ligher and faster, but I wasn’t sure what kind of shape the roads would be in, and the Trucker is better outfitted for rain. We had snow on the ground leading up to this day, so I thought some might linger on the back roads. Plus, I wasn’t exactly sure that all the roads in my route were paved. However, I did trade my studded tires for regular slick road tires, which felt incredibly smooth and fast after several weeks on studded tires.

I rolled out a bit after 10:30 am, to cloudy skies and quite a wind out of the SSW.  I was headed south first, so I would face a headwind roughly the first half of my ride.

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The first 10 miles or so weren’t too hilly. I arrived at Lake Monroe’s dam.

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Right around the time I arrived at the lake, it started to rain. I was prepared for it and added some layers and a cycling cap. I had figured I would spend a good portion of the day in the rain.

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After visiting the dam, I had some good hilsl to climb. This hill is the backside of “The Alps” climb (I was going in the opposite direction and would later descend “The Alps”).

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The below shot shows some water on my GPS, handlebar bag, etc. It never really got much wetter than that. The rain wouldn’t last more than about 20 minutes, and it never came back after that.

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There was quite a bit of climbing.

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Followed by a descent down the other side, then some flatland. Pardon the rain on the lens.

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After the rain stopped, I took off some layers while I looked at this beautiful creek.

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Now I passed through Guthrie, IN. I was really getting out in the country at this point.

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For a moment, I thought I had to take this fine gravel road. However it was not on the route and I didn’t really want to take extra time to explore it. This might be worth a return trip at some point. It appears to be called Logan Bottoms Road.

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Instead of that excellent gravel road, I found myself on an excellent paved road, with quite a few hills.

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I love the way the road wends up and to the left, in the shot below.

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There was also some great ridgetop riding, with some nice views.

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Here is one particularly nice view from the intersection of Judah-Logan Road and McFadden Ridge Road.

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This flag was rattling wildly, the pole waving back and forth in the wind.

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McFadden Ridge is always a fun ride, mostly ridgetop riding, but with some twists and some fun rolling hills. Too much fun to stop for a photo! Soon I was descending Peerless Road, which took me down by a branch of Salt Creek.

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I took this opportunity to shed some layers. I was soon riding in shorts and a short-sleeved jersey, in December!

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Peerless Road has been tough for me in the past. After the downhill, it climbs back up, then down again, and across a flat valley briefly before starting another big climb. I didn’t

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I didn’t do too badly this time around, though the headwind on the uphills was brutal. But, this time I turned off Peerless before some of its big rolling hills.

This kind of rusty, makeshift basketball goal is a common site in rural southern Indiana. Many times they are facing the street. This one took a safer approach, but it still oozed character.

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I enjoyed a lovely downhill run toward Oolitic.

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I made a stop in Oolitic at Casey’s General Store. I ate some potato chips and a donut. Good stuff! While there, I noticed this anti-K2 sign, a type of “cannabinoid” incense that many local towns have banned. Many of the Oolitic locals looked at me like I’d just gotten off a spaceship.

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Soon I headed out.

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As I approached a stoplight before crossing IN37, I saw this. See that road going straight up the big hill, directly ahead?Yeah, that’s where I was headed …

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Here are some shots from most of the way up …

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And here we’re looking back down.

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I was enjoying heading west instead of south. The wind was still 1/4 against me, but it was a big improvement! I saw some odd stone fenceposts with Valvoline signs/checkered flags on them. Hmm.

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I would see a lot of dogs from here on out, many of which enjoyed chasing me. The scenery was still good, fortunately, though this area was maybe a little creepy.

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I spent a brief time on Maul Ridge Road. It sounded brutal, and I think it would’ve been tough if I’d had to continue, but I soon turned off.

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A large climb took me up to this log cabin.

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And soon I plunged back down into a valley. The pavement in the creek bottom was smooth and I sailed through the valley. I now had a tailwind, which was very much appreciated, and dare I say, earned.

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I passed some nice sights …

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.. and soon, climbed up to Springville.

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This pink cabin was for rent. Tempting!

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I headed up Popcorn Road. There were quite a few hills, and great views to go with them. I love riding in this area, but my legs were getting tired.

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Frankly, I started to struggle with a few of the hills a bit. Not because I can’t ride them, but because I had done so much climbing already.

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What’s crazy about this next shot is, a few minutes later, I’d be down by the tiny church below.

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As I was tearing down a hill, a dog gave chase. I didn’t think much of it … since I was going down a big hill, I didn’t think he would be able to keep up. But he stuck with me all the way up to 25 mph! I could have gone much faster but there was quite a bit of sand on the roads, so I was being extra careful. I dropped him, but it took longer than I expected.

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And here is the church!

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For a little while, the road was flat, and I had a tailwind. Lovely!

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Randomly, the sun came out for a few minutes!

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Now I had a big climb on an unfamiliar road. The road was covered in sludgy sand of varying depths that coated my tires and made turning the pedals over a real chore. I was getting a little frustrated.

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As I approached the house below, I saw four dogs running toward me. Fortunately they were fenced. I kept riding and heard more and more barking as I slogged my way up the hill. They appeared to have 15-20 dogs, in several different kennels. Not sure what this place was, but it left me not feeling too great.

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After I reached the top of the hill, I turned over a new leaf. The legs felt fresh again and I cleared my mind of the weird dog place and the slog of a climb and got back into a good riding groove. More flat riding, and more tailwind, certainly didn’t hurt.

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I had a large climb, but my good mood was irreversible at this point. I looked at my odometer to see if I’d hit my 45 miles for the ride/5,000 for the year. Not yet! Damn. No matter. I kept riding, past decrepit homes …

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Views toward Bloomington …

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… and the Indian Creek Fire department.

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I reached the Victor-Oolitic quarry on Victor Pike and NOW I finally hit 45 miles. That makes 5,000 for the year. Unbelievable!

For my efforts, I was treated with a great descent. Again due to wet, sandy roads, I couldn’t really let loose, but I still enjoyed it immensely.

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And from there, I had only a couple of decent climbs, and several more miles, to get home. I finished the ride with about 52 miles, and 5,007 for the year.  What a great way to end my best year of riding ever!

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