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Hiking some mountain bike trails

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Last week, Sarah and I decided to hike the North Tower Loop, one of the mountain bike trails I ride regularly at Brown County State Park. I had never hiked it before, and she had never seen it at all.

It was a bit odd hiking a trail with which I’m quite familiar from bike rides. It was a completely different perspective, and most of the parts that are tricky on a bike are quite easy on foot. The slower pace allowed me to enjoy the scenery more and take some photos with my good camera, which I never take on bike rides.




We ran into my mountain biking buddy Dave, who was out riding. We talked for a few minutes before he took off. He was riding the trail in both directions, so we expected to see him again.




We saw Dave sooner than we expected. It turns out that the trail meanders so much that there’s a spot where two disparate parts of the trail come within about 30 feet of each other — we just never noticed before because unless someone’s riding on the other part at the same time, you can’t see the trail through the brush. You learn something new every day!



It was a really fun hike. I’ve seen this trail in all seasons and conditions, but always from my bike. It was cool to get a different perspective; we’ll have to go back and hike some of the other mountain bike trails sometime.

Limestone Tour

Monday, May 19th, 2008

This weekend Chris and I did the “Limestone Tour” ride. I did this once last year and while it’s only a bit more than 40 miles, it’s a brutal ride. I tend to forget how many big hills there are out on the west side of town. They can be relentless at times. I gave some background on this route last time I rode it.

We lucked out and had a gorgeous day for riding, in the mid-60s and sunny, but blustery. Getting started was a little rough, as I took a wrong turn on the way out of town that added a few miles to our ride, on a high-traffic road. But before long we were headed out of town and the scenery gets pretty really quickly once you cross State Road 37.

Hill by Bachelor Middle School

Countryside on Victor Pike

Right away, we were treated to a couple of great downhill runs on Victor Pike. The one pictured below turns off to the left at the bottom. I think I hit 38 mph on this hill, and we were riding into the wind.

Big descent on Victor Pike. If you view this large you can see several cyclists coming from the other direction.


One of many huge houses in the area

Even though there are some great descents, you pay for them with a couple of hard climbs on the way up to the Victor Oolitic Stone Company.

Victor Oolitic Stone Company

Nearing the top of the second big climb on Victor Pike

An attempt to show the scale of what we’d just climbed. I’m not sure it worked too well.

I was looking forward to taking a break at the top of the hill and enjoying the view from the spot behind some rocks that I found on a previous ride (see here). Unfortunately, they’ve really tighted up security and put in a fence preventing access to this area.

Industry meets nature

Rockport Road descent (we went the other way)

After a little more climbing, we were on flat ground for a couple of miles and then enjoyed another great ride down a big hill. We soon paid for it and made the climb up Breeden Road. This is one long climb, it really seems to go on forever.

Farm in the hills

Barns and silos

After meandering through the countryside for quite a few miles, we found ourselves on Rockport Road, which is, as Chris put it, “like a huge roller coaster.” We started by going down a huge hill, but were able to carry our momentum through several rolling hills after that, each with its own fun descent on the other side. In some places the road is fairly straight but sometimes there are turns at the bottoms of the hills, and it is quite a ride indeed. It’s also very tiring. Even though you can make good use of your momentum, it still amounts to a lot of climbing.

Independent Limestone Quarry


Somewhere along the line, I lost my map of this route. I’ll have to get another copy, or make my own. I have a pretty good idea where the turns are now.

This was a really fun ride. We didn’t break any speed records, but we rode on some great hills and had some excellent conversations along the way. By the end of the ride we’d gone 42.5 miles.

Morgan-Monroe Ride with Chris

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

On Saturday I rode up to Morgan-Monroe State Forest with my friend Chris. It was a great day to ride, in the mid-60s and mostly sunny, although winds were unpredictable and gusting to 20-30 mph.  It felt great to be out riding through the countryside again, something I haven’t done enough of lately. It was also cool to ride with Chris again. We’ve tried to plan rides a few times recently, but our schedules kept interfering.

Old Bethel Church

Chris and I were pretty close friends through high school, and I’ve only seen him a few times since we both returned to Bloomington. It’s always interesting catching up, especially since he has kept in touch with more people from our high school than I have. Our conversation topics ranged from politics to former classmates from high school to other rides we’ve done, etc.

Riding by these cows sparked a conversation about steak

There’s a great descent down Old 37 just north of Bethel Lane that’s a blast. We hit 39 mph on this hill, and it felt fantastic. I was glad to be out riding without a bunch of layers slowing me down. For a while it looked like it was going to rain, but the dark clouds quickly blew over.

Bryant Creek Lake

We stopped by Bryant Creek Lake to rest, drink some water, and stretch a bit. Throughout this whole ride I was surprised by how green everything is getting. There were probably a dozen butterflies sunning themselves on the bank. I didn’t get any decent shots of them, unfortunately.

Plants growing in the lake

As we rode through the state forest, many trees were losing their petals, and the wind was blowing them about. We were riding through a cloud of petals, and really got covered in them.

Riding through the forest

Petals on the ground

We stopped again at Cherry Lake. One thing I like about riding with Chris is the more relaxed pace of our rides. We tend to ride at a conversational pace, and stop frequently to check out the scenery. When I ride alone I usually hammer it more of the time.

Cherry Lake, with people fishing at the other end

Unidentified wildflower

The bikes

We saw this couple on recumbent tricycles a couple of times

We enjoyed a blistering descent down Bean Blossom Road. The road was flanked on both sides by wildflowers. White dogwoods and purple rosebud trees, violets and blue and yellow flowers on the ground.

Many fields are covered in yellow flowers, giving them a yellow-green glow

Approaching Anderson Lane

Our ride back was a little harder since we were riding into the wind for parts of it. We decided to go back via Cascades park to avoid riding into the wind for the last 4 solid miles of our ride. I saw a large bird (a turkey vulture, I think) with two smaller birds following it around. At one point one of the smaller birds flew right over the big one and — I think — landed on its back. Maybe it just hovered there, but it sure looked like it had landed on the bigger bird. Very weird to see.

Sometimes we had clear skies, sometimes they were more like this
All in all, it was a great ride. 42 miles or so.

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