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Archive for the 'Commuting' Category

My new morning commute, in photos

Monday, August 15th, 2011

I’ve posted some descriptions and images from my new morning commute, but I thought it’d be fun to go through it step-by-step, pictorially. This is just one of my possible routes, the one I discovered recently and have been taking for a few weeks. Of course, this will change again once classes start back up.

My day starts with a climb. Not incredibly long or steep, but it can be a jarring way to get moving in the morning, immediately going into a climb.

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Then I turn a corner and I get a great downhill.

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Well, it’s great unless I get caught at a red light halfway down the hill, which almost always seems to happen …

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Then I turn onto the Bloomington Rail-Trail, which has a reasonably smooth crushed limestone surface. The trail is nicely shaded and cool, and follows Jackson Creek part of the way.

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Then I cross a busy road. I don’t normally ride over this pedestrian bridge, but I went less than half a block out of the way to get this photo.

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It’s sort of a gross creek, but I still like it.

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Now I turn onto another rail-trail, but this one is paved. This is part of the B-line trail. It’s not officially open yet, but they aren’t trying to prevent people from using it, either.

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This trail is usually wonderfully quiet, although I wonder if that will continue, once it’s officially opened. By the way, I found another trail that parallels this one, that’s unpaved. It’s fun, but there is a big tree down that makes it difficult to use the side trail the whole way.

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The B-line trail feels remote at first, then hits an industrial area.

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The Grimes Street Bridge is still under construction. This thing seems ridiculous to me. Grimes just isn’t that busy, and the trail has road crossings at busier roads. This bridge is huge and is costing somewhere over $2 million, if I remember correctly.

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I should point out that the concept art for this bridge is rather hilarious.

What are they going to do, replace Grimes Street with a canal?

This machine shop always catches my eye. It’s actually quite a production with several buildings just like this, all lined up. What’s he building in there?

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I’ve also noticed there are some other industrial buildings that appear to be vacant. I dream of buying one and converting it into a high-tech company, or an art gallery. Hmmm …

There’s definitely some blight along the way …

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But, once you get closer to downtown, things improve. This bridge over Third Street is useful, and really cool, if extravagant. Notice the Monroe County Courthouse is visible on the right side of the image.

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The downtown section of the B-Line trail has quite a bit of public art — more than I can go into here.

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Just a few more blocks from here, and I”m at work.

It’s a great new route option — I am very glad I discovered it. The B-Line trail is really coming along. It’s incredible how long it has taken to get here, and I think it could have been done a lot more efficiently, but  I’m so glad to see it’s finally becoming useful.

Tough day

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Thursday was a tough day, cycling-wise.

It started out well enough. We finally had a break in the heat, after something like 23 days with 90+ temperatures. My morning commute was downright cool, and the lower temperatures were just wonderful.

However, less than a block from work, a truck nearly hit me. They ran a stop sign, then, as I was signalling for a left turn, they passed me literally about six inches away. They nearly hit me, and it made me mad. I had to keep going straight, actually veer off further right, to avoid being hit. I was mad enough to file a complaint. It was an IU Physical Plant truck that cut me off. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the truck number or license plate, so there was little they could do. In all fairness, the manager seemed to take it seriously.

So, I wasn’t hurt, but the close call certainly highlighted the dangers you face when cycling, even if you’re doing everything right. In fact, the incident reinforced my habit of not hugging the right edge of the lane. I was about in the left tire track when this happened, which meant I had plenty of room to move over when the truck got too close. If I had been close to the curb, it could have been much worse.

My commute home was uneventful, and pleasant.

In the evening, I met up with a guy at Brown County State Park. He had a spare 29er wheel, and we had arranged to meet there so I could buy it from him. I bought the wheel, and brought tools with me. He helped me install the cassette, and I got the disc brake rotor installed just fine. Then I managed to get the brake and shifting adjusted adequately — all of this in the parking lot. For me, this is quite an accomplishment. I’m getting a little better with a wrench.

My friend Dave met me at the trailhead, and we headed out for a ride, once I was ready. We had planned to do a night ride, bringing lights and everything.

After we rode for a little while, we came across some EMS personnel in the woods, hauling gear with them. They told us they received a report that a rider had crashed, and they were looking for him. We rode on ahead to find him.

Unfortunately, we rode quite a ways, passing some more emergency folks, before we found the rider, nearly 4 1/2 miles into the woods. There were quite a few other people at the scene of the accident, and one EMS guy had made it there, and had the rider immobilized. I couldn’t tell what had happened. We rode back and forth a couple of times, trying to lead the paramedics back to the rider. We heard talk over the radios that DNR was sending a four-wheeler down the fire road to try to extract him.

I was glad that we could be of some help. But, one time when we stopped, to walk back with the EMS people, I smashed my toe on a root, really hard. Then had to walk a while, in bike shoes. My foot hurt, but again, I was just glad we could help a little, somehow.

Eventually we felt like we had done all we could to help with that situation, and had a decision to make. We had hoped to ride the new Green Valley trail again, but it was getting later than expected and I felt a little spooked from not one but two safety incidents in one day. We decided to head back, though we did take the long way back to our cars.

Despite the drama, we did manage to fit in some fun riding, and it felt great to ride my 29er again. So far, I haven’t heard any more about what happened. I’ll post an update, if any more information becomes available. I hope the rider is OK. I really have no idea what happened, or if his injuries were severe.

These incidents both served as a reminder that cycling can be dangerous, and we are all vulnerable, even if we’re doing everything right. So, let’s try to be extra vigilant out there, OK?

Hot

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011


It’s been a little warm.  Until the last week or so, it has seemed like the really hot weather took its time getting to us, but now it’s definitely here.

This image is from yesterday afternoon. Then, this morning on my way to work it was already hot, not as high in terms of ambient temperature, but just incredibly muggy.

As I’ve alluded to in a few recent posts, I’ve been taking a different route to work. It’s a little shorter and significantly flatter, but with the heat and humidity like this, I’m still very sweaty by the time I get to work. Kind of annoying, but I can deal with it.

The new route is very pleasant; it starts with a bit of a climb, but then there’s a long downhill. There’s a stoplight halfway down, but if my timing is right, I can fly all the way down the hill without stopping.

Then I turn onto a rail-trail, which I take most of the way to work. Part is paved, and part isn’t. There’s a lot of variety, in terms of scenery, even though the trail is flat and mostly straight. I travel through woods, by a creek, through open fields with grasses and wildflowers, industrial zones, and part of downtown.

I don’t take the same route home. The nice long downhill that I start with in the morning, turns into a traffic-laden climb on my way home. Really, the traffic is the worry, not the climb.

Plus, I like to take a hillier route home, so I get more of a workout out of it.

Overall, it’s good to have options. I’ve been fairly critical of Bloomington’s rail-trail and B Line trail, and a lot of those feelings haven’t changed, but now they’re finally turning into something useful. Right now, there’s a long section that I have practically to myself, as it’s not officially open yet, but I wonder how busy it will be once more people discover it.

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