Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for the 'Night' Category


Monday, November 12th, 2007


I have not ridden very much at all in the past couple of weeks. A number of factors have combined to prevent me from riding, including the weather, darkness, illness, and laziness. I did a night mountain biking ride with Dave last week that was a lot of fun, but I got sick after that. I missed out on what would have been a fantastic day for riding on Saturday and fortunately did ride yesterday morning. I tried to ride relatively early as all forecasts I read said there was more of a chance for rain later in the day. Naturally, it started raining as I prepared to ride and stopped shortly after I returned home. It was gorgeous the rest of the day and even sunny for a while. Sarah and I enjoyed the beautiful weather and took some photos around downtown Bloomington.

I am still trying to figure out how to deal with the darkness. It seems weird, but I don’t mind mountain biking in the dark as much as I do road riding. I think I need to spend some more time (and probably money) dealing with the lighting situation. I tend to prepare several lights before I go mountain biking in the dark, and less time preparing for road riding. Maybe that’s part of the problem. Or maybe I just need some brighter lights.

At this point, I have resigned myself to the fact that I won’t be able to do as much riding in the coming months. I hope to ride year-round to some extent, but I know I’ll be fitting in a lot less mileage. Sarah and I have decided to try joining a gym to see if we can stay in shape through the winter.


Sarah and I spent a little while taking photos in downtown Bloomington yesterday. We had talked about doing some sort of photography and ended up just walking about a block down an alley after we had lunch. I wanted to use the rest of the film in my old (1930s or ’40s) Kodak Retina and once I did so we headed back.  I tried some Ilford XP2 Super film in the Retina. This is one of those B&W films that can be processed in a color lab. I think the shots turned out pretty well. When I scanned the negatives and made a few adjustments, I was getting this lofi retro look that’s just perfect for this old camera. If I wanted to I could make these look more pristine (and in fact the prints do), but I opted to keep the low-contrast, old-fashioned look and even the false color in a few shots.

The Retina is quite an interesting camera. It doesn’t even have a light meter. For now, I use another camera for metering, but I hope to get better at judging exposure without a meter. Also, you can’t see the effects of focusing through the viewfinder. Instead, you have to guess how far (in meters) you are from where you want to focus. Another challenge is that the viewfinder does not show exactly what will be in the photo, and I have not yet figured out how to compensate for that.

Here are a few photos. Some are from yesterday, and some are from the shooting we did on October 27.

Monroe County Courthouse

Weird false color

The Video Saloon

Old Barn

McKinney Cemetery

A row of gravestones

The cemetery, with hills in the background


Vista in Jackson-Washington State Forest

Jackson-Washington State Forest

Me (taken by Sarah)

An autumn night ride

Friday, October 12th, 2007

I probably should have stayed home last night and rested in preparation for the Hilly Hundred, but I simply couldn’t do that. It was a beautiful night, if overcast and a bit chilly, and I had new wheels to test, as well as a Banjo Brothers Handlebar Bag I intend to use this weekend that hadn’t had a test run yet. I decided to do the Water Works ride.

It was chilly, and I had to guess what to wear to stay comfortable. It’s been a while since I even had to worry about that and I guessed that my long-sleeved jersey with my jogging suit jacket would work well, along with biking shorts with a pair of nylon pants over them.

I threw some stuff in the handlebar bag, including the Sigma Sport TriLED light, which can clip onto the handlebars, patch kit, cell phone, etc. I put my camera in the mesh side pocket even though I wasn’t sure if the pocket would hold it securely enough.

As soon as I got moving, I realized that I’d forgotten how much more restrictive warmer clothing can be and that I will have to get used to riding in colder weather again.

I soon forgot about all of that and had a fantastic ride. It was windy, which worked to my advantage for about the first half of the ride. I flew over some rolling hills and then down a curvy road. I was impressed with how well my new wheels were working; I even noticed some unexpected improvements in steering. The handlebar bag also affected handling, though, adding some noticeable drag and raising my center of gravity a bit. It wasn’t too bad, but definitely more noticeable than a saddle bag or even a rack trunk. I also noticed I could hear things rattling around in there occasionally. However, it was great having everything within reach, and putting my camera in the mesh pocket worked especially well. It seemed to hold it pretty securely, yet I could slip the camera in and out with ease when I wanted to use it.

My trip to the Water Works was pretty uneventful. I saw a few deer along the way and really enjoyed the cloudy sky; it was overcast, but a bit patchy and there were spots where the sun would shine through at times. I could smell smoke from fireplaces and it was a great complement to the cool crisp air. One deer even ran alongside me for a while, each of us looking at the other and apparently enjoying each other’s companionship.

Autumn Sky
Autumn Sky

When I turned to ride back the other way, I faced a stiff headwind. One thing that’s weird about Bloomington is that it’s rarely windy, except when it’s cold. I have no idea why that is, but I sure was reminded of that fact last night. It was getting fairly dark at this point and my ride took on an autumn night vibe. It was beautiful and mysterious and a little bit spooky, with many deer along the way and other creatures rustling through the woods. As I rode I thought of the people cozy in their homes and while that can be a great feeling, I was happy to be out riding for the time being.

After I made the descent down Moore’s Creek Road, it almost felt like I was in some kind of fantasy world with dim but golden light trickling into the valley and more deer and other fauna all around me. I felt lucky to be observing these feats of nature, even if I really was riding through a rural neighborhood and not some huge forest. I came around a corner and saw probably half a dozen deer grazing. I came to a stop completely silently and we stared each other down. They were standing and staring at me. I wasn’t sure what to do and started to reach for my camera. Still no movement. Something possessed me to whisper, “Hi” … just barely even making a sound. The deer turned and ran and I continued riding.

I stopped by Lake Monroe to rest for a moment and take a photo of my bicycle near the lake. I also put the front light on my bike at this time.

My bicycle by Lake Monroe
My bicycle by Lake Monroe

The light that I had brought isn’t very bright and there were no cars on this road. Fortunately, I’ve ridden it many times before and I’m pretty familiar with it. It wasn’t completely dark yet, although the big climb is under dense canopy and I had a little trouble seeing during that part. I made the climb and headed back toward home. The light the sky was still providing, combined with lights from headlights and my own light, were enough.

Riding at night
Night Riding

11. Franklin, by bicycle

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

I had been planning to go on at least one road ride during our vacation. At one point, I was thinking about bringing my road bike and renting a mountain bike at Tsali, but ultimately, I decided to bring my mountain bike and slicks (road tires). This way, I could just bring one bike and not have to rent one. The map of Macon County we picked up had bicycle routes marked on it, and there were many signed bicycle routes throughout the county. We went to Smoky Mountain Bicycles and picked up some routes they had there, but I decided to come up with my own route so that I could leave directly from the cabin and explore. I wrote down some notes about the route, got ready, and headed out. I should note right away that I posted the route on Routeslip here, although it doesn’t seem to be loading at the moment.

My mountain bike, outfitted for a road ride

As do many of my rides, this turned into a very hot late-afternoon ride. It started with a very sketchy and interesting descent down the gravel road that leads to the cabin. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was very steep and had several switchbacks. I took a few photos on the way down so I’d have a record of this insanity. I knew it would be a very difficult climb back to the cabin, but I was almost looking forward to it, in a masochistic, manly pride kind of way.

The driveway to the cabin

Looking down from the end of the driveway

One of several sections of road like this

Part of a switchback on the gravel road

I took my time going downhill here, because the gravel was fairly loose and I knew if I got going too fast, I wouldn’t be able to stop. Once I reached the bottom, and a paved road, I was greeted with incredible views almost immediately.

This was just minutes from our cabin


It was flat for a few minutes, which was a good thing, because I was having trouble focusing on riding due to the scenery all around me.  I also had some trouble adjusting to riding the mountain bike on the road; I was acutely aware of just how inefficient it was, my cadence was all messed up, the gearing all wrong (though I’d later be thankful for it), etc.

I  had seen this scenery before on our drives to and from the cabin, but everything looks better from a bicycle, and I was driving before so I didn’t get to enjoy it as much. The cabin owner had said in his directions, “DO NOT TURN ON LEATHERMAN GAP ROAD,” so I had avoided that road in the car. However, curiosity got the best of me and I simply had to check it out by bicycle. Besides, I thought the route I had planned went on it, for some reason, even though you can plainly see in the photo below that the 36 sign pointed straight ahead, not to the right, where I turned.

DSCF2226  DSCF2227
A signed bicycle route by Leatherman Gap Road / Cowee Valley sign

I should have heeded his advice, because Leatherman Gap Road, which would be the wrong way to go if you were trying to get to the cabin, was also the wrong way to go for my planned bike route. I didn’t even realize this for several miles, when I reached the end of the paved road and sensed that I was in the wrong place. This would be the first of several mistakes I’d make, but I didn’t care — there was more beautiful scenery, and I didn’t have a specific destination in mind anyway. I had my trusty map, and it came in handy several times. As a part of my restitution for poor planning, I climbed the significant Snow Hill. It was a tough climb, but then I got to ride on a ridge for a bit, with great views.

My bicycle, and an incredible home in the background

I also passed through a strange, nearly-abandoned coop of some kind

I finally got back on course and rode for a while on Highway 28, a fantastic winding mountain road. So awesome, in fact, that I missed my turn off of it and had to backtrack. I realized this just as I began a climb, and continued climbing anyway simply because I was having so much fun. This gave me a good descent back toward the road on which I was supposed to turn.

If this is the wrong way to go, do I really want to be right?

I saw this cool bridge and realized that my route took me across it

Bridge over Rose Creek

The view from the bridge

The road I was on now, Rose Creek Road, was even more winding and had more ups and downs. I did a lot of climbing, but somehow, it never seemed too bad. The low gears of my mountain bike helped, but I also didn’t push it too much, as this ride was more to discover and enjoy the scenery than for fitness.

Riding directly toward a mountain

Small shack in the mountains

I stopped by the small shack above to consult my map. I found myself at an intersection, and while I knew which way I had planned to go, I was intrigued by the road leading off to the right. I wanted to explore it, but I knew I’d be chasing daylight, so I wanted to see if I had time. As I was stopped, a golf cart with two or three people in it pulled up. The people in it asked if I was lost, and I said, “Not lost, just indecisive!” It sure was weird to have a golf cart randomly drive up like that.

I just love roads like this

Farms nestled in the mountains

The road I was on ultimately looped back to Highway 28. 28 had more traffic on it, but the drivers were very courteous. In fact, people were very courteous throughout my whole ride, waving at me and some even giving me a thumbs up. I really don’t understand why I saw almost no other cyclists the whole time we were in Franklin. It has all the elements of a great cycling town: marked bike routes, a bike shop, great mountains in which to ride, roads with low speed limits, and friendly motorists.

Some traffic on 28. That’s the closest thing I saw to traffic, anyway …

I didn’t want my ride to end, but it was getting dark. I had brought my rear blinky light, but not my headlight. I should have had the headlight. I thought I might make it back before dark, but I underestimated how far I was from the cabin.

The sun sets over a mountain road

I really enjoyed my ride, and seeing the sun set was great, too. Sarah also enjoyed the sunset, but she did so from the gazebo behind the cabin.

This shot looks almost impressionist to me

It was almost completely dark by the time I reached the bottom of the gravel road. I would have to climb it without being able to see much of anything, and it was a hell of a climb. Even the low mountain bike gears were just barely low enough, especially on that loose gravel surface. My rear wheel spun a little as I pedaled on a couple of different occasions. Eventually, I made it, and Sarah was waiting outside. I had a great ride, but what a sight for sore eyes!

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