Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for June, 2011

Muscatatuck – Jackson-Washington State Forest

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Last Thursday was the last day of my summer class. There’s a second summer session, but I’m not taking any more classes this summer. So I guess I’m on summer vacation! (Aside from work, of course.)

As you might imagine, I was anxious to get out for a good solid bike ride. Tim was game, so on Saturday we met at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Reserve near Seymour, IN, for a solid 56-mile ride. It was mostly paved, but some gravel and a bit of trail, as well. The odd thing about this route was that it was flat-to-rolling most of the time, except one big hill (knob) right around halfway through the ride. Here is a map of our route.

I woke up Saturday to a whole lot of thunder, and heavy rain. One good thing about riding with Tim is that I always know he’s up for riding in any conditions. There wasn’t any question about whether we would ride, just how wet we’d get.

We met at Muscatatuck around 9am, right on the tail end of some rain. The rain basically stopped as we were getting ready to ride. Our first few miles were gravel with some great wildlife — deer, herons, geese, bullfrogs.

P1140036

P1140040

Then it was pavement for a while through gently-rolling farmland.

P1140050

P1140056

P1140060

DSC_6301

Soon we started to get glimpses of the knobs, where we were headed. Specifically, we were going to Jackson-Washington State Forest, which contains several knobs and is part of the Knobstone Escarpment area in Indiana.

P1140079

P1140085

The buggy sign below was hand-made. A nice touch.

P1140089

Before long we were in Brownstown, IN, a small town that Sarah and I have visited on a few different occasions. We stopped for water and restrooms.

Here’s Tim’s Litespeed, with a few upgrades since the last time I saw it. The bike is even better than before!

DSC_6308

And of course, here is my Long Haul Trucker.

DSC_6311

The sky grew increasingly ominous. Tim ran into someone he knew there (small world!) and an old man chatted us up. He seemed to be quite a character, but his countrified accent was so thick it was hard to understand what he was saying.

During all this time the clouds got darker and darker. It was clear we were going to get quite wet. We rolled out.

P1140092

P1140095

P1140098

P1140106

Just a few minutes outside of town, Tim felt his rear tire going flat. We stopped, and he immediately started working on it. I took the opportunity to look around a bit.

P1140112

P1140113

The rain finally started. It was coming down pretty hard.

P1140116

Here’s Tim, working on his tire in the rain. He fixed it rather efficiently but carefully. His work paid off; the fix held.

P1140118

We rolled out again, only to find our road closed.

P1140121

Of course, roads that are impassable by car are often easily navigated with a bicycle. We pressed on. Soon we saw why the road was closed. This photo stinks, but you can see the landslide debris on the road.

P1140125

We made our way over the debris and the climb up the knob started in earnest.

P1140126

P1140130

P1140131

Soon we saw where the landslide had started. An upper portion of the road had washed away.

P1140133

P1140134

After a while, we made it to the top. We just took our time and spun up in a low gear. Almost immediately after we reached the top, we were treated to an excellent vista.

DSC_6327 (1)

DSC_6334 (1)

We rode further down the road for a few more views.

DSC_6338

DSC_6343

DSC_6346

Then it was a long descent. It had more or less stopped raining at this point. The road down was so steep that Tim walked part of it. I rode it, but I did so very slowly.

P1140138

P1140141

P1140143

P1140145

Once at the bottom, we continued on and it was back to being flat. We had a great tailwind for a while. Tim wasn’t feeling great, but the wind certainly helped us along.

P1140151

We could see numerous storm clouds, and as we rode along we were able to watch them grow and change. Very cool.

P1140159

P1140163

This wheat field scene captured our attention.

DSC_6349

As did this very small church.

DSC_6354

DSC_6357

We passed a couple of gravel roads that looked they’d be fun to explore, such as the one below, but we stuck to our route.

P1140170

P1140174

P1140177

Eventually, we hit gravel. A downhill, some turns, and some flat riding. The sky was different now but still quite stunning.

P1140182

Soon we were back near Muscatatuck; a short jaunt on a trail and some gravel roads took us back to our cars. My sandals were funny here, I could feel the wet grass on my toes as I pedaled.

P1140184

 

P1140188

 

P1140191

All in all it was a wonderful ride. The weather was spectacular, not in a picture-perfect kind of way, but it was impressive to watch the clouds and experience the rain. We somehow missed the big storms. The rain that we did encounter wasn’t bad at all.

Since this ride was mostly flat and mostly paved, it was a relatively easy 56 miles, except the few miles on the knob. Even so, I was getting pretty tired toward the end. It had been a while since I’d been on long bike ride. I feel I rode well, especially considering how little riding I’ve done lately.

I’ve got a lot of riding planned in July. I am looking forward to it!

Mountain biking

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

My mountain bike was not in working order for quite some time. The biggest problem was that the chain thoroughly rusted after some winter riding, and it was a while before I could find room in the budget to buy a new chain. It also needed some other work related to the winter riding, which really took its toll on the bike — especially since I foolishly put it away with snow still stuck to it and then forgot about it. Whoops.

Anyway, I finally got the mountain bike rolling again, just in time to fit in a ride last weekend. My friend Dave and I headed out to Brown County State Park. The trails there had just reopened after the latest round of storms, some of which were quite severe. There were even a couple of tornados in the area, though not exactly where we were.

Our ride was a real treat. It was hot, but once we got back in the woods, in the shade, it was a few degrees cooler, and a stiff breeze helped keep us cool.

We rode the North Tower Loop and had an absolute blast. Being Memorial Day weekend, we expected the trails to be busy, but there were surprisingly few people out. We did see  family hiking two miles into the woods in flip-flops, who seemed to have gotten in a little over their heads. Not too bad compared to the past, where we have seen things like people with babies in a seat on the back of their bike, taking to the mountain bike trails. Yeesh.

We were really enjoying the ride. The trails at Brown County have amazing flow and it felt great to be on a roller coaster ride through the woods. It’s hard to explain, but somehow it’s simultaneously thrilling and relaxing.

After we finished the loop, we decided to see if we could find the new Green Valley Trail that’s in progress. We had heard that part of it was done, and open. We found it fairly quickly and checked it out.

The new trail is a lot of fun. You can tell a lot of work has gone into this when you see some impressive rock armoring, or a bridge like this:

DSCF3962

Like all the Brown County trails, the Green Valley Trail has excellent flow.

DSCF3964

The scenery is wonderful, as you traverse a few different ravines and cross beautiful creeks.

DSCF3979

There’s quite a bit of climbing, but it’s the slow, gradual kind. It never gets overly steep, even though the terrain is quite steep. The trails more or less follow the contours of the land, which makes for a great ride. And, long, gradual climbs also means you get long, flowing descents. It’s just a stunning trail.

We thought the trail had enough technical challenge to be interesting, but not so much that it was unridable. Pretty much the perfect balance, as far as I was concerned.

When we reached the end of the finished trail, we took a break.

DSCF3967

Here you can see some of the yet-unfinished trail on the other side of the ravine. I love the way the trail skirts the edge of the ravine, and climbs gradually out of it.

DSCF3972

Because the trail switches back a number of times, we were disoriented. Here, Dave is trying to figure out where the heck we were. There was a lake not too far away, which looked pretty interesting.

DSCF3976

Since we had reached the end of the finished trail, we turned back and the ride back was even better. There was a climb that hit us pretty hard, though. Just as we were thinking we needed a break, the trail turned back downhill. Phew!

DSCF3980

After we finished that trail, we rode back to the car. The ride back is a lot of fun, too. It was just a great day to be out on the trails, and I felt a sense that I wanted to go mountain biking again soon. It’s not every day you get to ride a brand new trail!

Unfortunately, once back at the car, I saw that I have another broken spoke. I think that makes four on this wheel. I think I’m going to need to replace my rear wheel. Ugh. I have no idea when I can afford to do that. I have a 29er and 29″ wheels are, of course, more expensive than their 26″ counterparts.

Here’s a map of our ride. The new trail is roughly from mile 4.2 to mile 10.2. So, it’s three miles of new trail, or a 6-mile round trip. I think when it’s done, it’s supposed to be about a 4-mile loop.

Ear to the Breeze is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).