Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for the 'Mountain Biking' Category

Snowbiking in Hoosier National Forest

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I enjoyed Saturday’s wintry road ride, but the real highlight of the weekend was a mostly-gravel snow ride through Hoosier National Forest. I drove to the start of the ride; it took about 25 minutes to get there. Here’s a map of my ride.

View 2010-02-07 HNF snow biking in a larger map

My ride started on a paved road, and immediately I was loving the scenery, but for a little bit, I was riding on clear roads, and started second-guessing my choice to bring my mountain bike. But I figured that once I hit gravel, there would be some snow. It was hard to gauge what conditions would be like. We had probably four inches of snow on the ground, but in town and on paved roads, it was warm enough that the roads were clear.





But, the deeper into the woods I went, the snowier it got. The more snow, the more fun I had.




I passed the first of many trailheads for the Hickory Ridge trail system. Bikes are allowed on these trails, and I’ve ridden quite a few of them, but the snow had mud beneath it. No trails on this ride.


Not that I minded. The gravel roads were quiet and beautiful, and plenty challenging in their own right.





I reached a small creek with a waterfall, and then proceeded to climb a large hill. The road went back to being paved, and not as snowy, which made the climb a little easier. I then spent a few minutes on a state highway and some smaller paved roads before turning back into the national forest.




After some momentary confusion about which way to turn, I turned onto a very snowy road and re-entered the woods. I rode over a small log. There were some truck tire marks, but it was obvious only one or two vehicles had been here. I was sort of impressed that they were able to drive through at all, and grateful for their tire ruts, which were well-packed and made for relatively fast riding.  However, some spots were icy, and I had to watch out for those.

The ride became even more beautiful than before. I was in awe at the snowy landscape and the way the warm, angular light struck everything was quite stunning.





I rode on a relatively flat ridgetop for a while, and then the road turned steeply downward. I had ridden up this hill once before, and I sure was glad to be riding down it now.

I stopped halfway down the hill to explore a small pond.





The ruts were slick and icy and I discovered that the best technique for riding down this big hill was to ride in between the ruts, where there was soft virgin snow. This slowed me down, so I didn’t have to ride my brakes, and also offered better traction.


Looking back up … steeeep!

Once at the bottom of the hill, I turned onto a different road, where I forded a couple of creeks and started climbing. I filled up the memory card in my camera. I deleted a few photos and rode on. I took a few more photos after that, but not a lot.



P1110515 P1110518


I had quite a bit of climbing to do, but it was divided into a couple climbs, with a slight break in between. Overall, not too bad. Once at the top, it was flat for a while, and then I enjoyed a long descent. This was quite tricky as it was slippery, I just took my time and made it to the bottom of the hill just fine.





Once at the bottom of the hill, I hit paved roads for the last mile or so of my ride. It was still just lovely, and the light became even more dramatic, as the sun was nearly setting.



I rode back to my car, very satisfied with the ride. This was one of those rides where I didn’t expect much going into it, but in the end, I was blown away by how incredible it was. The gravel roads were the perfect place to ride, given the conditions. Some snow rides end up being so hard they’re frustrating; this was a challenging adventure, but it never felt like anything other than a LOT of fun.

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot since this ride is that even though I’ve spent probably dozens of hours riding in Hoosier National Forest, I’ve just barely scratched the surface of what is there, even close to home (HNF reaches basically all the way south to Kentucky). There are many trails in the Hickory Ridge system I’ve never ridden, and lots of roads that are unexplored as well. I need to ride there more often.

Warming up

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Earlier this week, temperatures rose to around 30 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s wild how warm that feels when you’ve acclimated to temperatures in the teens. The past couple of days we’ve had highs in the 40s, and it looks like it will stay that warm at least through the weekend. We may get some rain Sunday, but hopefully biking conditions should be very good, overall. I’ll be limited to road biking, as the trails will be extremely muddy, but road biking sounds pretty good right about now. May go hiking as well … we shall see. I hope everyone has a good weekend.

It happens to all of us …

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Both Doug and Tim posted accounts recently of winter rides that were too cold, too difficult, and just not much fun. I had a ride like that of my own on Sunday. I was pumped from Saturday’s absolutely stunning snowy mixed-terrain ride, and I hoped to replicate those successes, only this time on the mountain bike trails at Brown County State Park.

I parked at Hesitation Point and pedaled out toward the campground, on the new trails. The Walnut Trail, an intermediate/advanced trail, had some footprints but no tire marks, and I was sliding around a lot on the four or so inches of powdery snow, but it wasn’t too bad. However, I skipped the really technical part, as it seemed like it would just be too treacherous. I figured the Limekiln Trail, which is generally easier, would be a better bet, but it was worse.

Several people had ridden there before I got there, and they had compacted the snow, making it awfully slippery. Even slight inclines were impossible to climb at times, because I just couldn’t get any traction. My rear wheel would spin out when I tried to climb.  That trail also has more of a sideslope than I realized; you don’t even notice in dry conditions, but with the snow, I kept sliding toward the ravine.

As you can imagine, this was not a lot of fun. I was expecting to have to go slow, but all this sliding around was really dangerous, and not fun at all. That, combined with the additional effort required to push through the snow, had me pretty frustrated. I still had fun, in parts of the ride, but overall it was one of those rare occasions where I did NOT enjoy being out on my bike.

I did, however, see a lot of really beautiful scenery … and I got some pretty good photos, as well. So, it wasn’t a total loss.









P1100786 P1100798





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