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Archive for the 'Driving' Category

Road to nowhere

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Last weekend was yet another excellent one, complete with mountain biking, road biking, swimming, and some photography.

Mountain Biking
I went mountain biking with Dave and the two Chrises on Saturday morning, but I was running late, so I met them up at Hesitation Point instead of at the lower lot. I rode Hesitation Point very well, clearing some obstacles I had never cleared before, including a drop-off followed almost immediately by some rocks and a log you have to hop. We also rode the Aynes Loop “backwards” (counter-clockwise), which I had never done. It was actually easier than going the other way, which involves at least 10 minutes of solid climbing. The climbing is more spread out this way, and the trail rides very differently.

Then, we rode the North Tower Loop backwards to complete the trifecta. I rode down to the lower parking lot with them, rested for a minute, and turned around and rode back. I lost the computer on my mountain bike (again!), and I think I just won’t replace it this time. I’ve bought two already, I don’t really want to buy another one. Incidentally, it was a Cateye Enduro 8. I can’t really recommend them, since I’ve had two of them fall off of my mountain bike. I haven’t had the same problem with the Cateye Mity 8 on my road bike — at least not yet. My confidence in it is definitely a bit shaken, but the road bike doesn’t see the same kind of abuse and rough surfaces the mountain bike does, so hopefully, it’ll be OK.

I was tired on my way back up Hesitation Point. The fact that I was riding really well earlier was lost now, due to fatigue. I made a mistake around a difficult switchback. Somehow, one of my tires slipped, and I found myself falling — fortunately, to the center of the switchback, not to the ravine on the outside. Still, I fell a bit, hitting my knee and my left arm on something, and unfortunately, hitting some sensitive parts on the top tube of the bike. No real damage done, but it left me a bit sore. I rested for a few minutes and continued on my way. I was glad when I made it to the top of Hesitation Point. I think it was about 18 miles of riding, all told.

Road biking
On Sunday morning, I went for a road ride. I wasn’t sure how well that would work out, given my injuries from Saturday’s trail ride. I also got off to a bit of a late start, and it was pretty hot by the time I started riding. My plan was to ride around Lake Lemon backwards. After riding Mount Gilead Road, I felt OK and continued on, riding Shilo Road in the opposite direction I have in the past. It was a lot easier this way, in terms of climbing; instead of a long, spread-out climb, it was mostly downhill, with a couple of short, steep climbs. The only problem with this was that since Shilo Road is one of the roughest and windiest roads in the area, it was more technically challenging.

I still felt pretty decent after riding Shilo Road, but I decided to head back toward home, rather than ride around Lake Lemon as planned. It was getting hotter, and I knew I could make it around the lake, but I didn’t want to push it too much. I wanted to get home and hang out with Sarah, and I knew we’d want to do some things with the rest of our day – I didn’t want to wear myself out completely by riding. So, it ended up being a fairly short ride, at about 26 miles, instead of the 36 I’d planned. On my way back, I took a photo of something by a fire station I’ve been meaning to shoot for a while.

Water ... bikers
Proving once again that firefighters are true American heroes.

Swimming
Sarah and I went swimming in the pool in our apartment complex Sunday afternoon. We have done very little swimming in recently years (especially me), but we had a lot of fun. I use the term “swimming” very loosely; really, we just hung out in the water, and played a little pseudo-volleyball with a beach ball and no net. We also took some photos with the underwater camera I got at Goodwill for $2. I’ll post some of those photos later.

Photography
We were planning on watching Office Space Sunday night, but instead, we went for a drive and took some photos. I used my old Pentax K1000 again, and really enjoyed it. Sarah has a great post about our outing here. We found ourselves on many roads to nowhere, getting lost and not particularly wanting to be found. There was some incredible late afternoon/evening light, warm and on an angle — and a beautiful sunset, the best part of which (a huge, pink sun hanging low in the sky) we couldn’t capture because there were cars behind us and no way to get off the road. Anyway, Sarah covered it pretty well, and posted some of her photos, so I’ll shut up and post some of my own photos.

Bryant Creek Lake
Bryant Creek Lake

Reaching up
Reaching up

Main Forest Road II
Main Forest Road

Sarah
Sarah

Stump
Stump

Low Gap Road
Low Gap Road

Solitary tree
Solitary Tree

Despite the rain

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Last weekend was another great one, despite the fact that it rained for much of it, and Sarah had a lot of work to do.

The highlight was something we hadn’t even planned — after hiking with my mom and nephew on Sunday, Sarah and I weren’t ready to go back home yet and grabbed our cameras and headed out for a drive on some country roads. I was planning on heading toward Paragon, IN along a route I rode with the Bloomington Bicycle Club, but I’m not too familiar with the roads in that area, and we got lost.

This was fine at first. We ended up near Oliver Winery — but by the grape fields on the other side of the highway from the main building, which I didn’t even know existed. We saw some very cool landscapes with hay bales, which Sarah was hoping to find.

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Bales of hay — notice the grape vines on the left side at the horizon.

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Scraggly tree

We drove around some more, and it started to get darker and foggier. I was hoping for an opportunity to take photos in some fog, and it looked like that might be a possibility. We stopped near a house to photograph this really cool field across the street, and I was about to set up the tripod when a dog came running down. We got back in the car and moved a little further away; the dog ran back up to the house. We got out of the car again, and the dog came running back, along with at least four other dogs! They seemed friendly enough, but we weren’t about to risk it. We got in the car and kept driving.

A little bit later, the low fuel light came on. I knew I probably should have gotten some gas before we went on this drive, but I didn’t expect to be gone very long. I still wasn’t too worried, because I didn’t think we’d have any trouble finding our way out of there. It continued getting darker, and we stopped at another spot so I could try to get some shots of a field. I need some more practice at this night photography stuff. I think things need to be underexposed to a certain extent to capture the night mood, but I tend to underexpose too much, I think.

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Foggy field at night

We started driving again, and couldn’t find our way out of the area. After a while, we realized we were going in circles. We came to Mount Pleasant Church, which seemed a bit familiar to me, but I still didn’t really know how to get back from there. I could tell Sarah was worried, but she was doing a great job of letting me work this out, which I really appreciated. She has a great post on her blog where she talks about how it’s not so bad to be lost together … and I completely agree.

There was a woman there visiting the cemetery. I hate asking for directions, and I probably would’ve been more stubborn if I hadn’t been worried about running out of gas, but that being the case, I asked her how to get back to the highway. She had me ask her mother, who was in the passenger seat, and ultimately they said we could just follow them; they were going up to Martinsville, whereas we were going to Bloomington, so we’d just turn separate ways at the highway. This worked fine, although we decided that since we were closer to Martinsville, we had better go there and get fuel before going home.

I’m glad we did, because having a fresh tank of gas allowed us to take a more scenic route home. It may seem silly to take the scenic route at night, but it’s vastly more pleasant than the highway, and I still wanted to get some more photos. We passed a road that looked really pretty, and I turned around to go back and take some photos.

We got out of the car and heard some strange animal noises. A few cars turned onto the road and came too close to us, scaring us, but I didn’t want to leave my hazard lights on because it would interfere with my long exposures. As our eyes adjusted, we were able to see a little more clearly just how foggy it was, and we watched as thousands of lightning bugs lit the scene, blinking like photographer’s flashes at a sporting event. They collected most in the trees, giving off an impressive show. We held hands and kissed while waiting for exposures to complete. Even if none of the shots had worked, it would have been perfect.

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Old Myers Road

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Subdued silhouettes

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Porch light

We drove the rest of the way home, content. We could have kept going. We could have stayed out doing this all night —  but it was late, and we had work the next morning. Another time.

Working backwards, earlier on Sunday, we had gone hiking with my mom and nephew, and we took our dog Rob with us as well. We weren’t sure if we’d be able to do so, because it rained most of the morning and a little in the afternoon as well. Fortunately, it cleared up and we decided to go for it. We hiked two trails at Brown County State Park, the one around Strahl Lake and Trail #2, which runs from the North Tower to the Lodge, past the family cabins, and back. The Strahl Lake trail was very easy, but Trail #2 was a bit more challenging, with quite a few hills. We saw a toad, a slug, and a turtle.

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I only managed to get one bike ride in over the weekend, a fairly short (25 mile) ride on Saturday between rains. I saw three deer and five wild turkeys on this ride — they must have come out to get some sun once it cleared up, just like I did. I don’t feel the least bit bad about only riding once — we definitely made the most of the weekend.

Sloth and parking

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

For some reason, I’m feeling pretty sluggish this week. Last week was a low-mileage one, I only rode about 75 miles. This week may be similar, although I’m hoping to get more mileage in by doing one or two longer rides.

I’m also at a standstill right now in terms of weight loss, which I know is related to my sloth, but it’s still frustrating. I weigh about what I did a week ago, I guess it’s good I haven’t gained any weight, but I stopped losing it, too. This is made more frustrating because I wasn’t exactly sluggish over the weekend, hiking over 8 miles and mountain biking 15. But that brings me to the other problem: it’s also getting harder to follow our diet because … well, I’m just hungry all the time. I thought this would get easier as time went on, but so far, it’s only gotten harder as I get hungrier every day.

Sarah and I rode to the public library last night, a ride that is mostly a subset of my commuting route. She hasn’t ridden much yet, so I wanted to show her a way to get to the library, where she has an internship. I don’t know if she’ll try riding to work or not, but I think she was surprised how easy it was.

I think Sarah wants to build up some more confidence before trying to ride to work, and I don’t blame her. It can be scary out there when you aren’t used to dealing with traffic. Hopefully, if we ride more together, she’ll get used to riding in traffic and learn how to do it safely. She did very well last night, the only mistake I noticed was that she rode in the door zone briefly, and she promptly corrected her mistake. I need to get Sarah a new seatpost or something — the one that came with her bike was terrible, so I replaced it with an old one I had on hand, but that one keeps slipping.

I took my mountain bike in for some service last night. The rear brake hardly works, it probably needs a new pad, but the shop had to order that. I also need to replace my saddle, as I bent the rails on my old one when I crashed on Sunday. The guy was trying to sell me on this $65 Specialized saddle that seems really nice, and he’s going to let me try riding it around the neighborhood first. I actually don’t mind spending that much on a saddle if I won’t have to buy another one for a long time. I just wish I could try it a little more first.

I’ve been observing lately an aspect of motorist behavior that baffles me, even as a motorist myself: people sure can be weird about parking. I started thinking about this yesterday as I pulled into the parking lot on my bicycle and found that the lot was so full that I could barely navigate it, even on two wheels. Cars were parked very close together, some even double-parked.

You might assume that they have no choice, but there is a parking lot with plenty of space right across the street — and we can get free permits (free to us, the company pays for it). If you get a permit, you’re asked not to park in the lots on either side of our building, and so are committed to parking across the street, but it’s not even a very busy street. I simply don’t understand why people would rather fight for a space right next to the building , possibly getting trapped, rather than park across the street with no trouble at all.

This also makes me think of people who will drive around for 20 minutes to find the closest possible parking space, instead of parking slightly further away and walking. What’s wrong with walking? Don’t people realize that in some cases, they’d actually save time by parking further away? Are people so lazy that they can’t walk a few hundred feet?

I’m just glad I never have to worry about stuff like this when I’m bicycling. I do still have to deal with the drivers who speed to a red light. Why the hurry to stop? If it looks like I’ll have to stop, I’ll slow down so I can keep moving at least a little bit, and hopefully by the time I reach the light, it will have changed. It’s easier to keep moving, even if only a little bit, than to have to put a foot down.

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