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Archive for the 'Night' Category

Crooked Creek plus Nebo Ridge, at night

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

As someone who rides year-round, I don’t believe in a cycling “season.” I’ve seen some people saying the season is over, which baffles me. It’s just now cooling off, after a hot summer. The best riding of the year is yet to come!

However, for me, there is something of a night riding season. Night riding is a weird thing because when given a choice, I’ll nearly always prefer to ride when it’s light outside. However, nearly every night ride I do is memorable, and I always have fun. It just takes a little more motivation to get out at night, I guess.

Dave and I did an absolutely incredible night ride on Thursday.  We parked by the Crooked Creek boat ramp and rode out along the lake, and did part of the Nebo Ridge trail. Just like we did during this ride. However, this time it was different. We got to watch the sun set over the lake from some doubletrack, as we rode along.

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These pictures are a little misleading. By now it was getting fairly dark, the camera just corrected and tried to make it look like daytime. I should have adjusted them a little more.

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By the time we reached some gravel roads, it was really getting dark. The sun setting over a field of goldenrod was breathtaking. Again I had trouble getting the shots to reflect what we were seeing.

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Soon we reached a poorly-maintained fire road that took us up to the Nebo Ridge trail itself. Here we switched our lights on. Things were tricky on this somewhat overgrown trail that had a fair amount of debris, and a big climb.

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As we crested the hill, we could see the huge orange harvest moon rising through the trees. We stopped when we reached the trail to adjust our lights and get ready for the next section. Here’s my bike, and Dave getting his stuff ready.

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We rolled out on the trail. The riding was tough, with lots of ups and downs and a rugged trail surface. But it was also a lot of fun. As we rode along we saw thousands of sparkly spider eyes looking back at us from the ground, and rode through countless spider webs. It’s amazing how many spiders are out there! Here are a couple of pages about spider eyes at night: ONE | TWO.

Here’s an idea of what the view looked like from my bike.

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At one point, Dave shifted and his chain got caught between his cassette and spokes. Whoops! He had a tune-up recently, so it really shouldn’t do that … while Dave was fixing his bike …

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… I was looking around at the wildlife. I saw more spider eyes (which I did not get photos of), and a huge millipede. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but his guy must have been at least five inches long.

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As I was photographing him, he did something odd … he rolled his head under his body and held it there for a few seconds. Wikipedia says that millipedes can roll up in a ball, so maybe he was considering doing that. I’m really not sure.

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During most of our time on the trail, we couldn’t see the moon very much … there was just too much tree cover.

We didn’t stay on the trail too long. We would have enjoyed going further, but we both had to work the next day, so we only rode to the pond and back on the trail. Maybe a 3-4 mile round trip. And then headed back the way we came. Seeing the full moon over Salt Creek and Lake Monroe was amazing!

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I just noticed that you can also see Jupiter, the bright dot to the right of the moon, in this next shot.

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This was one of the better night rides we’ve done, and it was only the first one of the night-riding season! I can’t wait to do more. Dave was super cool about waiting while I took photos, which was appreciated. I normally don’t even try to take photos on our night rides because night photography is more time-consuming, and it’s quite hit-or-miss.

Another secret night ride

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

On Tuesday night, Dave and I did another night ride. The moon was nearly full, the sky was clear, the air was crisp, and it was a beautiful night. We rode over 14 miles on gravel roads, logging roads, and a couple of brief paved roads. We followed a ridge down into a valley, where the air was much colder. We crossed creeks and cut quietly through the night air. And we did it all by moonlight. The moon was so bright that there was no need to turn our lights on. We had to go a bit slower, but it was well worth it. We had some surprisingly good views; once our eyes adjusted to the light, we could see quite well.

I spent a little more time than usual taking photos; here are a few.

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A rainy, pre-Thanksgiving night ride

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Last night, I wanted to go for a ride after work. There was hardly anyone in the office, and I left a bit early. This let me get a bit of an earlier start than usual, but I knew it was going to get dark during my ride. It was cool — in the 40s, and windy. So, I brought lights and dressed warmly.

As soon as I got outside, I noticed it was drizzling. I hadn’t counted on rain, but I was dressed warmly enough that I wasn’t too worried.

I rolled away from town, heading for some back roads. I got on Mount Gilead Road and the rain picked up slightly. It wasn’t raining hard, but the roads were wet enough to be rather slick. I rode my brakes down a big hill, and at one point I felt my rear tire slipping a bit. This is the second time this has happened; I think it’s time to get a new tire.

I reached the bottom of the hill and turned onto another road. I stopped by a creek to turn on my headlamp and take a few photos. I wasn’t sure if they’d turn out, as my point & shoot camera does not do too well in low light, but the gamble paid off. Actually, if anything, the photos look too bright.

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I cruised for a few flat miles, seeing a few deer along the way. Eventually, I had to ride on State Road 46. By this time, it was getting quite dark, and the rain had picked up. I was glad I had dressed warmly enough, and glad I wore my wind and rain-resistant cycling vest. I had many lights blinking but I was still nervous about this brief section of highway. It was over in a few minutes, with no problems.

I turned onto Friendship Road for a brief section of gravel, and stopped on a bridge over a creek to snap a few more photos. I’ve taken photos here several times before, but of course it looks different when it’s raining and nearly completely dark. My glasses kept getting covered with rain drops, I would wipe them off frequently, but it didn’t seem to help much.

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After a brief section of gravel, I turned onto Lampkins Ridge road for a long climb. By this point it was completely dark, and it started raining even harder. The climb seemed very long in the dark. It was hard to tell I was, or how much longer I had to climb. It didn’t help that a dog chased me; I always hate being chased uphill, and since it was dark, I couldn’t tell if the dog had stopped chasing or not.

I made my way back toward town, soon reaching Smith Road. From this point it was only a couple of easy miles home.

This was a surprisingly fun ride, given that it was cold, windy, raining, and dark. I loved it!

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