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Hicksville Ride

Monday, August 8th, 2011

This weekend, Sarah and I headed to Fort Wayne to visit her family. I wanted to do a bike  ride while we were there, as I often do, when we’re in town. This gives Sarah some quality time with her family, and I get to ride. It works out well.

I rode with Bill Lambert again — this time, we rode with the Three Rivers Velo Sport club. Bill rides with them sometimes, and I rode with them once a few years ago, on the opposite side of Fort Wayne.

This ride started in New Haven, just east of Fort Wayne, took us into Ohio for a stop in the small town of Hicksville. Then back, with part of the return trip along the Maumee River. Here’s a map of our route.

The ride started early, at 8:00 am. At least, that’s early for me. I drove to the ride start and got ready. I arrived a few minutes early, unusual for me. I connected with Bill, and in a few minutes, we were off.

The morning was wonderfully cool. I don’t know what the temperature was, but after weeks on end of 90+-degree days, it felt quite refreshing. Also, there was a bit of fog over the fields.

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A few minutes after we rolled out, I heard a train horn blowing in the distance. Soon the train caught up with us and was moving along on tracks parallel to the road. We picked up the pace a little, as if being pulled along by the train.

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The terrain in northern Indiana is quite different from what I’m used to: it’s quite flat. I enjoy having opportunities to ride in areas with all kinds of terrain, so it’s a nice change of pace. Speaking of pace, we were moving at a good clip, but being in a double-paceline most of the time, I just had to hold on and try to stay with the group. The pace was brisk, but not so fast that I couldn’t hold on. Drafting can do wonders, especially on flat ground.

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As we rode, the sky grew more and more ominous. Eventually, it started raining — lightly at first, but falling harder and harder.

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I’ve done plenty of rainy rides, but usually I’m on the Trucker, which is equipped with fenders. I consider this the “best” way to ride in the rain, but riding in a double paceline in the rain is another experience entirely. There’s something visceral about riding a skinny-tired road bike in the rain, with water and grit flying everywhere, getting drenched to the bone, water getting in your eyes and on your glasses, but still spinning right along. I quite enjoyed it, and the rain cooled me off even more. So refreshing!

It rained for quite a while … maybe 20 miles. It was challenging at times, with brakes not working well in the rain, and not being able to see very well. But we just kept on going.

After a while, we reached Hicksville, OH. At this point I realized that I had been meaning to pay attention when we crossed the state line, but it had completely slipped my mind. After a convenience store stop, we were rolling again.

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At some point, the rain stopped, but it mostly remained cool and overcast. Eventually Bill and I felt that we had had enough of pushing the pace, and we dropped off the back. It was fun to push myself for a while, but really the later part of the ride, once we slowed down, I got to enjoy the scenery, and conversation, more.

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Check out Bill’s snazzy Ohio Randonneurs jersey!

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Crossing the Maumee River

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Amish country

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When we were just a few miles from the end, the sun managed to burn through the clouds, and the air started to warm up immediately. It never got terribly hot, but I sure appreciated the cooler weather earlier in the day.

We rode through New Haven on our way back, and saw folks setting up a tent with a sign that read, “Brew Haven.” Apparently, they were having a craft beer festival. If it had been later in the day, I might have been tempted.

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We finished the metric century around noon. I couldn’t believe how quickly we completed this ride. Drafting a lot, on flat ground, certainly helps. Actually, Bill had ridden to the ride start, and was going to ride home, so he probably finished the day with 85 miles.

I enjoyed this ride immensely. It was different from what I’m used to, but that made it even more fun. Riding in a double paceline in the rain was a blast, the Three Rivers club guys have always been good to ride with, and Bill as well.

Hot

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011


It’s been a little warm.  Until the last week or so, it has seemed like the really hot weather took its time getting to us, but now it’s definitely here.

This image is from yesterday afternoon. Then, this morning on my way to work it was already hot, not as high in terms of ambient temperature, but just incredibly muggy.

As I’ve alluded to in a few recent posts, I’ve been taking a different route to work. It’s a little shorter and significantly flatter, but with the heat and humidity like this, I’m still very sweaty by the time I get to work. Kind of annoying, but I can deal with it.

The new route is very pleasant; it starts with a bit of a climb, but then there’s a long downhill. There’s a stoplight halfway down, but if my timing is right, I can fly all the way down the hill without stopping.

Then I turn onto a rail-trail, which I take most of the way to work. Part is paved, and part isn’t. There’s a lot of variety, in terms of scenery, even though the trail is flat and mostly straight. I travel through woods, by a creek, through open fields with grasses and wildflowers, industrial zones, and part of downtown.

I don’t take the same route home. The nice long downhill that I start with in the morning, turns into a traffic-laden climb on my way home. Really, the traffic is the worry, not the climb.

Plus, I like to take a hillier route home, so I get more of a workout out of it.

Overall, it’s good to have options. I’ve been fairly critical of Bloomington’s rail-trail and B Line trail, and a lot of those feelings haven’t changed, but now they’re finally turning into something useful. Right now, there’s a long section that I have practically to myself, as it’s not officially open yet, but I wonder how busy it will be once more people discover it.

Lake Monroe flooding

Monday, May 9th, 2011

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve had a lot of rain this spring. So much so now that some areas are experiencing flooding. In particular, Lake Monroe reached nearly 20 feet above normal pool level, setting a new all-time record. Normal pool is 538 feet; the lake level went as high as 557.28 feet. Despite widening the floodgates, the lake overflowed the emergency dam and flooded Valley Mission Road (among others), which is a common cycling road. According to the local newspaper, Valley Mission Road is being washed away by the flooding.

I headed out late last week for a ride and decided to check out the flooding, though not in the area described above. I thought I’d check a couple of other spots.

On my way there, I saw a pond that is normally fairly small. It’s noticeably bigger than usual.

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A closer look showed quite a few turtles sunning themselves on logs, including a couple of rather large snapping turtles (though I was not able to get a good shot of them).

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After a while, I was at Moore’s Creek State Recreation Area, on Lake Monroe. Below you can see a lamp post that’s partially under water.

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This little road normally goes through to a picnic shelter and a popular fishing area.

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Here’s the picnic shelter.

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This sign gives you a good idea of how much higher the water is than usual. The sign reads “Road ends in water” 300-700 feet, but yet the water is just a few feet behind the sign. This is at a boat ramp.

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This next shot is not relevant to the flooding, but I was inspired by Alfred Stieglitz’s “Equivalents” series, which we studied in my photography class.

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I rode a bit more …

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And eventually made my way over to Moore’s Creek Road, where I expected to see some more flooding.

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I thought I would be able to make my way over to Swartz Ridge road and climb up that way, but I hit flooding sooner than I expected. I couldn’t even make it to Swartz Ridge.

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I thought about trying to cross the water, but it looked like it was at least knee deep, probably deeper than that. I decided to turn back.

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I’ve seen this barn several times but never got a satisfactory photo of it before.

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The trees and grass look so lush and green.

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For the most part, the creeks didn’t seem overly deep. I guess most of the water had already rushed down to the lake by this time.

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Sometime after my visit, the lake levels began to get lower. Hopefully the flooding will subside soon. I’ve read about a number of other roads being underwater. I haven’t heard about much or any damage to homes yet, but newspaper coverage has been a bit spotty. I do know that many local cycling routes are affected.

 

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