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Archive for the 'Dog' Category

Low mileage week; weekend plans

Friday, July 20th, 2007

It’s been a bad week for cycling. It started out great, with my 56-mile Mahalasville ride on Sunday — the longest ride I’ve done to date. But I was feeling sick Sunday night and Monday and didn’t ride at all. Then, it rained Tuesday through Thursday. Fortunately, there was some time in the evenings when it didn’t rain. Still, I didn’t want to go too far, lest I get caught in a storm.

I did some work on my old mountain bike (a mid-90s GT Timberline — the green bike in the photo). I’m going to repurpose it as a foul weather/backup commuter, around town, and general trekking bike, to explore dirt and gravel roads. It needs more work, but I think that if I fix a few things and add fenders and a rack, it’ll be great for these purposes. I already put some slicks (road tires) on it that I had on hand, and it works pretty well on the road and on gravel.

The high point of the week in cycling terms was on Tuesday, when Sarah was in a bad mood and I tried to cheer her up with a bike ride (it worked). She wrote a great blog entry about it. We rode across Lake Lemon and back on South Shore drive. Sarah hasn’t cycled very much in a number of years, and I know she feels intimidated sometimes riding with me. But I enjoy riding slowly and enjoying the scenery (by “scenery,” I mean her — the lake was nice, too). It’s also great just to see her on a bike.

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We rode about four miles, and Sarah did a great job. None of the hills on this road are huge, but she did great on the hills that are there. I’m proud of her for giving it a shot even though she didn’t feel like it, and I’m glad she had a good time.

I am excited about this weekend. We’re going to Versailles State Park, a couple of hours away, to camp. We’ll also do some hiking, biking, and canoeing while we’re there. It’ll be great to get away, just the two of us (well, the dog is coming, too), for a whole weekend. That hasn’t been possible since Sarah has had class on Saturdays, but the class doesn’t meet tomorrow. It’ll also give us a chance to break in our new hiking boots and streamline the camping process for our trip to North Carolina in August. I’m sure we’ll also take about a thousand photos.

I have been to Versailles once, Thanksgiving weekend last year, when I went mountain biking there with my mountain biking buddy Dave. Here’s what I wrote about it then. We were only there long enough to ride the trails, which are fantastic. I plan on mountain biking again this time, but most of our time will be spent doing stuff together. We’ll also be near Clifty Falls State Park, so if we get bored (not likely) we can always head over there to check that out.

Fantastic weekend

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Sarah and I had a great weekend. On Saturday, we slept in, had lunch with my sister, and then went to the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. We mostly just drove around there, but we did stop at a cemetery there that’s notorious in this area for being haunted: Stepp Cemetery. We took some photos there. More on that later, once I post some photos.

I hadn’t been in that state forest for years, and I never spent much time there before. I think Stepp Cemetery is the only part of it I had been to. I definitely want to go back and do some hiking and possibly camping there. It’s more rugged and not as groomed as the state parks, so it feels more remote and I think we could connect with nature better there.

We debated what to do next, hiking was an option, but I really wanted to go for a bike ride. We ended up heading to Brown County State Park — I rode the North Tower Loop and the Aynes loop, and Sarah sat in the North Tower and read. I was worried she might get bored, but she really enjoys reading there, and needed to do some reading for class anyway. As she puts it (I’m paraphrasing here): “If you have to read, why not do it in a log cabin with a beautiful view?”

My ride was incredible. I was just flying, all these road miles pay off in ways that aren’t always obvious. But since I hadn’t ridden on the trails in almost a month, I felt a huge difference. I was climbing better than ever, and my average speed for the ride was about 7.8 … very fast for me for trail riding. The trail conditions were great, too, parts were so dry they were dusty. I am digging the new tires I’m running on my mountain bike, a Kenda Blue Groove on the front and a Nevegal on the rear. They grip very well, and I have more confidence in turns and whatnot. I might switch out the Nevegal for something a little less aggressive in the rear at some point, but for now I’m very satisfied. I had to hurry a bit toward the end of the ride, because the sun was setting and I didn’t have lights with me.

Sunday was another great day; I rode at Brown County again, this time with Dave. I had been planning a road ride one day this weekend, but my trail ride on Saturday felt so good that I wanted to do another one. Plus, I hadn’t ridden with Dave for a while. We had a great ride, although I was feeling Saturday’s ride more than I would’ve expected. Mountain biking really does take a lot more out of you. We kept a pretty good pace, although it was slower than Saturday’s. We took our time and took several breaks. It’s good to be out there and not be in a hurry.

On our way back to the parking lot, we saw a kid with a flat tire and tried to help him fix it. I had a pump, and we tried to see if we could just inflate the tire, but it definitely had a puncture. There wasn’t much we could do. The kid said his dad was around but went to ride some more.

When we got back to the parking lot, I saw a couple unloading some bikes, one with a child seat on the back of it. They asked if the “moderate” trail was a good one to take a baby on, and I immediately told them no. Dave agreed with me, but proceeded to tell them the part of the trail that is the flattest and smoothest. When he finished, I reiterated, “But I wouldn’t do it with a baby.” They didn’t listen. At least the baby had a helmet, but the parents weren’t wearing any, and their bikes were really insufficient for trail riding.

It always astounds me when I see people doing stuff like this. I’m glad they want to ride their bikes, and want to ride on trails, but I see a lot of people with inadequate bikes, not wearing helmets, simply being reckless. I’m not one of those guys who thinks everyone needs a $1000 bike (hell, I don’t have one myself), but still, the bikes you get at Wal-mart are not safe for mountain biking. And it’s one thing to take risks if you’re an adult, but putting children at risk is something else entirely. In this case, we’re talking about a baby on a mountain bike trail. These trails have rocks, roots, sticks, logs, and other hazards on them. We’re not talking rails-to-trails smoothness here. Even the “easy” trails are physically demanding and technically challenging. They’re no place for a baby.

Finally, we took Rob for a hike in the woods yesterday afternoon. I only took Sarah’s old point & shoot digital camera, so the shots aren’t great. Rob was a lot more into it this time around, and did more running and sniffing and checking things out. I tried to play fetch with him with a stick, but it couldn’t hold his interest. He really wanted to drink out of the pond, but it’s pretty nasty, and we stopped him.

Sniffing by the pond
Rob thinking about drinking from the pond

Rob loved running in the creek bed. I threw some sticks to get him to run, and while he didn’t fetch them, he did take them as a cue to run in that direction. He slipped a couple of times, but just loved splashing and getting wet and muddy.

Rob running in the creekbed
Running in the creek bed

The woods are really looking like spring, with lots of budding trees, green ground cover, some flowers and other things.

Fiddlehead ferns


Yellow flowers
Small yellow flowers that lined part of the trail

Again, we had a great hike. This was in “my woods” in the neighborhood where I grew up. Some parts of the trails are in pretty good shape, but others really need some TLC. I used to go mountain biking back there fairly frequently, I should do so again, even though there are only a couple of miles of suitable trails.

Rugged trail
Particularly rugged part of the trail with big protruding roots and erosion

I wish I knew how to fix the above section of trail. I suspect some of the roots aren’t doing any good anyway and could be cut out, and then maybe things would smooth out. But I don’t know the proper way to do it, and I don’t have any way of getting permission to work on these trails, as far as I know. Rumor has it they’re private property owned by John “Cougar” Mellencamp.

Sarah and I both have a renewed interest in hiking after all that, and we’re hoping to do more of it soon. We are thinking about possibly hiking with the Bloomington Hikers.

Bike rides, hiking, (lost) photos

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

I’ve ridden my bike a lot this week — so far, a little over 45 miles. I rode to work yesterday and today, and did rides after work on Monday and Tuesday. I felt like a badass riding to and from work yesterday, and then riding another 20+ miles after that. I rode out to the Monroe County Water Purification Plant again, which is a route that I enjoy a lot. The plant itself may not be scenic, but it’s still kind of cool to see. I snapped some photos with my point & shoot film camera, which I’ve been using this week. I would have ridden down the big hill to the park by the lake, but I was worried I’d run out of sunlight, and instead turned around and went home.

I encountered an asshole in a van. I was approaching an intersection with a stop sign, and the guy in the van clearly wanted to pass me, but there wasn’t much space before the stop sign. I got into the middle of the lane to prepare to make a left turn, and stuck out my left hand to signal. My hand almost grazed the window of the van, which was now passing me in the other (wrong) lane! Then, the guy cut me off, because there wasn’t room for him to move over before reaching a car stopped at the stop sign. I resisted the temptation to flip him off, instead waving a fist at him and cursing him under my breath.

Some geese flew over me, they were flying low and at a bit of a slower pace than I was going. They honked at me as I rode by (I’m sure they were really honking at each other, but it seemed like a greeting, so that’s what I’m going to assume). I saw some other very large birds, as I have on most of my recent rides, some circling in the sky. Sometimes, they seem to take an interest in me when I stop; I hope they don’t have anything sinister in mind. It’s too bad I can’t bring Marty on some of these rides; I’m sure that he’d get to see some cool stuff, and I could learn a lot. At the very least, Marty’s bird photos have piqued my interest in at least being more aware of the kinds of birds around me.

This morning’s commute wasn’t that great; I was running a bit late, and it was a little too warm to wear a jacket, but too cool not to — so I was sweating more than usual by the time I got to work. One thing I had forgotten about IU students is how they’ll walk into the street without looking in either direction. They just keep staring straight ahead, completely oblivious or not caring that there are cars, bikes, and other pedestrians that could run into them. What makes matters worse is that most of them have iPods or other mp3 players, so there’s no way to get their attention.

All of this made my commute this morning very interesting. I had to dodge pedestrians, and sometimes try to anticipate how fast they were moving and speed up or slow down to make sure I could go far enough in front of or behind them. It felt almost like playing a game of Frogger.

After I got home today, I suggested to Sarah that we take Rob (the dog) for a hike in the woods in my old neighborhood — so we did. This was the first time we had taken Rob for a real hike, and he was very well-behaved. Actually, he was too well-behaved. After a while, we let him off the leash, and he just walked behind us most of the time. This dog needs to learn how to do certain dog things, like running. He’s great at other dog things, such as napping, but running is one area where he needs work. He did run a few times, but not as much as I had hoped he would. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great dog, and we had a great time. But I think we need to get him more exercise.

When we got to the pond, we noticed some dead salamanders in the shallow water toward the edge of the pond. There may have been more in the deeper water as well, I’m not sure about that — but we saw at least 10-20 dead salamanders. I was pretty puzzled by this, and found a couple of articles about a virus that sometimes kills salamanders. Neither of them mentions Indiana, or even the midwest, though, so I’m not sure what to think about that.

I brought my point & shoot film camera and took a few photos of Rob in the woods. I put the camera in my pocket for a while, and later, when I tried to take it out, I accidentally opened the film door, exposing/ruining all the film! I am pretty pissed, and I need to find a way to prevent that from happening in the future. I lost all the photos I took on my rides this week, and the ones I had just taken in the woods.

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