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Archive for the 'Mountain Biking' Category

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:

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Snowbiking on the Bloomington Rail-Trail

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

On Sunday, I didn’t have a lot of time to ride, but I did manage to get out for about an hour. I decided to ride my 29er down to the Bloomington Rail-Trail. The roads were clear, but the trail had a few inches of snow on it, with an icy crust on top of that, so it was rather challenging riding. I passed a farm, which I have often wondered about.

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It turns out it’s home to the PALS program. According to their Web site:

People and Animal Learning Services, Inc. (PALS) is dedicated to providing high-quality, safe, educational, fun and therapeutic animal assisted activities such as therapeutic horseback riding, hippotherapy, animal care and pet encounter therapy to children and adults with physical, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities.

I think that’s pretty damn cool.

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I rode on, stopping by a creek.

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Parts of the trail feel remote, even though it crosses a few roads, and parallels another road.

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The crunchy layer on top of the snow made going a little tough, but letting out some tire pressure helped. Really, the 29er did pretty well in this stuff.

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I went under State Road 37, a fairly busy highway.

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At some point, I decided to go off the trail to explore a bit. I wasn’t really sure if I was supposed to be there, but there were no gates or signs preventing entry. I seemed to be at a water treatment plant. Looking at a map, I think it’s the Dillman Wastewater Treatment Plant.

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For a while, I rode in virgin snow, which was deeper and trickier to navigate. Fun, though!

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Eventually I reached an area with a few buildings. I decided to turn back, since I wasn’t really sure if I was supposed to be there.

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I headed back, and got back on the trail.

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Toward the end of the trail, I heard quite a racket. I looked up to see many, many birds in the trees above.

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Then it was just a matter of riding back the way I came.

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I went about eight miles in about an hour. I normally don’t care for rail-trails, but in the winter, they are a good way to get away from cars and get to ride in the snow.

Not much riding this weekend

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

First, here’s a shot from a night ride last week.

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We had guests this weekend, so I didn’t ride much. I did go mountain biking at Brown County State Park with Dave Saturday morning. We only rode about 9 miles, but it felt great to get out on the trails. I want to go back soon for more! These trails have amazing flow. This ride, while brief, was enough fun to make me think I should try to convince certain co-conspirators to come up and hit some trails, rather than gravel, sometime.

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We also tossed around some ideas for our traditional Black Friday mountain bike ride. This should involve some trails we’ve never ridden. I’m looking forward to it!

Today, we went for a hike with our friends, also at Brown County, which ended in our car not starting, and having to get a tow truck and my mom to come pick us up. Here’s hoping it won’t cost too much to fix the car …

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