Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for May, 2011

A bit lacking

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

It’s been too long since I posted here. I haven’t been riding much, aside from commuting to work and class. This still has me on the bike about 12 miles per day, four days per week (Fridays this summer I have devoted to some other projects, so I am essentially working from home those days).

Even though I’m only taking one class this summer (and working, of course), I’ve still felt a lack of time, energy, and even motivation to ride. That “motivation” part is weird to me — the past few years I’ve wanted to ride as much as possible whenever the opportunity arose. I’m not feeling that way right now, though the rides I do manage are always enjoyable. For now I’m taking things as they come. But I’m definitely looking forward to my class ending. Hopefully the rest of the summer will be a little more relaxed, and maybe I’ll have more time, energy, and motivation to ride.

I did get out and ride last weekend. It was a little on the hot side — maybe mid-80s. Probably the hottest ride of the year so far. I used to hate heat, but I have learned to deal with it better, and on this day, I actually enjoyed it. I headed out with a sort of vague plan to ride east of town, an area where I rode a lot when I lived on that side of town, but haven’t ridden as much lately.

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It was a beautiful day to ride. I felt pretty good, though I did notice that my fitness has declined a bit. I struggled on the hills a bit more than I would have liked. A strong headwind on the return trip certainly didn’t help, though it did cool me down somewhat.

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I replaced my rear tire. The old one was worn through the outer casing and a weird purple layer was showing in many places. I’d say I wore it out — it only lasted about 1700 miles. The new tire is also an upgrade to a Continental Grand Prix 4000 700×25. I’ve read that these are more durable than the Conti Ultra Race I had before.

Oddly enough, the GP4000 700×25 is significantly wider than the Ultra Race 700×25 I had on the wheel previously. Before, I could put the wheel on and off easily, but now I have to deflate the tire to do it. As far as I’m concerned, this is a good thing. The extra volume leads to a slightly cushier ride.

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I got rained on, on my way home, but the cool rain felt good. Naturally I had just washed the bike, which is now a grimy mess again. I took a road through town that I normally avoid, but on a Sunday afternoon it was quiet and pleasant.

I rode 33 miles, and I felt quite refreshed. I’m hoping to be able to do a longer ride over Memorial Day weekend. I’d love to stretch my legs for 50-60 miles or more. We’ll see!

 

 

 

Duck Tales

Monday, May 16th, 2011

As bike commuters, sometimes we are lucky enough to witness little bits of drama unfolding before our eyes on a daily basis. Going by the same spot at roughly the same times of day sometimes leads to repeatedly seeing the same people — for instance, on my old commute route, there was an old couple who would be out walking almost every morning, when I was riding to work.

A few weeks ago, I started seeing some ducks right alongside Highland Ave. First it was a couple — one male, one female. With all the rain we’ve had, the drainage ditch had running water in it and they were swimming, drinking, and eating in the water. I saw them every day, especially in the mornings.

Sometime last week, a second male showed up, and I would see all three ducks walking or swimming together. The drainage ditch seems to be getting drier and drier, but still the ducks stayed. Sometimes they’d be on one side of the road in the morning, and the other in the evening. I couldn’t tell if the second male was trying to challenge the first, or if they were all just friends, or what.

I got used to seeing the ducks and it made me smile every time I saw them. But this morning, tragedy struck. I saw the female and one male. I wondered where the other male went. Then I saw him a little further down the road, lying dead in the ditch. Very sad.

The obvious explanation is that he probably got hit by a car. But I like to think of alternate scenarios. Maybe the two male ducks fought to the death over the lady duck. Or, maybe they didn’t fight to the death, but the one who lost and was so distraught he threw himself into oncoming traffic. Or maybe the lady poisoned her “husband” so she could be with the other duck. The possibilities are endless.

As I observed a moment of silence for my dead friend, I went around a bend in the road and saw another duck couple. One duck dies, two more arrive. Then a little later in my commute, I saw a couple of deer — a doe, and maybe a hundred yards away, a young buck.

With any luck, I think my commutes are about to get more dramatic.

More flooding

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

After writing about the areas of flooding I visited last week, I felt inspired to visit the Lake Monroe dam area to see the situation there. So, I planned a bicycle ride to the dam, and took a “scenic route” home. I wanted to see the dam and the damage to Valley Mission Road. Here’s a map of my ride.

I took a direct route to Fairfax State Recreation Area, then to the dam. Every time I ride in that area, I think it seems hillier than I remember. ┬áThere aren’t any big hills until you are near the lake, but the hills are rather constant all the way there.

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Here is Baker’s Junction, the creepy “Haunted Train Museum”

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Soon I was at Fairfax SRA, on Lake Monroe. I was greeted by ducks.

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If you’re not familiar with the place, this might not look too weird. But, there’s a large parking lot at the bottom of the hill. It’s just underwater in these shots.

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This basketball hoop might give a little more perspective.

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Or this shelter …

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or these partially-submerged trees …

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Here’s another illustration of how high the water was. There’s a cul-de-sac that’s completely submerged right now, past where the road dips into the water.

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Notice the street sign just barely sticking up.

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I headed back, stopping to top off water bottles.

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I headed toward the dam. On my way there I saw more high water, coming right up to the side of the road. There were people fishing from the side of the road. I wish I had gotten a photo of them.

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Soon, I reached the dam. The water made a crazy sound as it was sucked down to be expelled by the floodgates. The water rushing out made quite a racket, too. I made a few videos to capture the scene, and I edited them together here. What you can’t tell from the sound in the video is that there was also a low-pitched rumbling sound that you could both hear and feel. Pretty wild.

I took some still photos, too. There were several other people there to check out the scene.

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Next I wanted to see Valley Mission Road. I had heard the road was washed out.

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I’d say those reports were accurate.

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Some people had spotted a catfish down in the water below here and were trying to figure out a way to get it out.

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The rock pictured below was placed on the road to try to stop it from washing away. It’s hard to say how effective that was; I guess we’ll find out when the rocks come off.

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I probably could have continued past this point, but I would have had to climb a big hill and it might just be more flooding on the other side. I decided to turn back.

On my way back, I spotted some dead fish along the side of the road. It was a bit surreal.

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I headed out. Soon I crossed State Road 37. I wasn’t sure exactly how the roads interconnected and actually ended up on an on-ramp or feeder road briefly. There was NO traffic at all.

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I stopped in Harrodsburg to refuel.

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Then headed back, a rather indirect route. My return trip was quite hilly.

 

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Some ominous clouds rolled in, but no more than a few drops ever fell.

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I passed a quarry or two on my way home.

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This was a great ride — it was nice to have a mission of sorts (seeing and documenting the flooding and the dam), but the riding was a lot of fun, too — 36 hilly miles.

 

 

 

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