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Archive for the 'Weather' Category

May, Burch, Evans, Koontz in winter

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

I wanted to ride on Sunday, but didn’t have the time or energy for anything too epic. So, I rode a route I have ridden a couple of times now, west of town. I ended up with 23+ very hilly miles. Looking back at my previous posts about this route (one | two) it’s kind of shocking how different the scenery looked, with bare trees and snow on the ground, rather than greenery and wildflowers.

Just to keep things interesting, I did change the route slightly. I headed out That Road and rode up to Leonard Springs Road.

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I just love this intersection. I had ridden on West Leonard Springs Road before, but never on South Leonard Springs Road. So, this was my new road for the day.

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I had driven on this road a couple of times before, but only to go to Leonard Springs Park, which is just about a block down the road.

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Once I passed the park, the road went down a hill with some twists and turns.

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This was an interesting ride because probably 90% of the pavement was clear. However, the remainder was a nasty mix of snow, slush, and ice. I really needed the studded tires, at times.

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Below, you can see May Road making its way over some large rolling hills. I would turn on this road next. Those hills were tough!

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But, there was a nice payoff in the form of a wild downhill on Harmony Road.

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Then flat riding for a while. I was headed into the wind, which was rather strong.

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This cow seemed to think I was a little crazy. The specks on the hill below are his cohorts.

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I crossed Indian Creek.

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The sky was wild. Mostly cloudy, but patchy enough for bits of bright light to shine through, and even the occasional clear spot showing bits of blue sky.

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Another climb …

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… took me to some very nice views.

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Then, more flats …

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… and more hills.

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The road surface got sketchy again. It was cooling off so there was more ice than before. And since the road was hilly, I needed all the traction I could get.

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I approached a barn that I always enjoy seeing.

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I had good intentions for the shot below. The Christmas lights on my bike were turned on, but they don’t show up well in the photo. Oh well.

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Just a little more riding, and I was home.

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This was a great ride, and again, one that really required the studded tires, even though they weren’t needed most of the time.

Tocsin Ramble

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Sarah and I spent a couple of days visiting her family up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. As I often do when we visit them, I brought a bicycle so I could do some exploring, and give her some good time with her family without me. I had intended to re-ride the route to Ossian that I rode last time. I still had the route in my GPS. However, once I was on the road, I ended up ditching most of the route and exploring without much of a plan. I thought perhaps I’d ramble around for a while, and possibly make a trip to the tiny town of Tocsin, which Sarah’s mom had mentioned at some point.

Here is the route I ended up riding.

It was a cool day, the high was actually around 30, I think, but with a strong wind out of the NNW, the windchills were about 10 degrees colder.

Initially, the roads were clear. I rode my Long Haul Trucker, with studded tires, since I knew I’d be hitting some gravel, and I wasn’t sure how snowy or icy it might be.

The clouds were amazing all day, mostly overcast but in patches, with an occasional break that let the sun shine through. Also, because of the wind, the cloud shapes were constantly evolving.

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It wasn’t long before I hit gravel. There I had varying amounts of snow and ice. Some of it was clear, some had a layer of snow or ice on it. None had deep snow, so my traction was pretty good, for the most part.

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The Fort Wayne area is very flat. It’s always a bit of an adjustment for me. Since I’m used to hills, sometimes the miles go by very quickly on flat ground. On the other hand, I’m not used to long, straight stretches of road, which require a long, sustained, consistent power output. I’m more used to grinding up hills and coasting down the other side. So, flat ground makes for good endurance training, and in some ways can actually be more challenging for me. During the first half or so of the ride, I mostly had a tailwind, so this made this deceptively easy.

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After a while, I crossed I-469.

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The scenery remained fairly constant: roads, snowy fields, barns, houses, and those crazy clouds.

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The road surface changed frequently. Sometimes it would be paved for a while, or gravel for a while, or sometimes it alternated seemingly at random.

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My GPS indicated I was near the Saint Mary River. I tried to follow the GPS over to where the river appeared to be. All I found was this small stream. Obviously, the main river is somewhere else.

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The scenery really seems constant in my photos. When I was there, it didn’t feel as monotonous as the photos indicate.

I passed the rather interesting Prairie View Cemetery.

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I thought this “air mail” sign was very funny.

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After a while, I reached Tocsin. There were just a few buildings there.

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I didn’t even see a sign as I rolled into town. I had to ride around to find this sign on one of the other roads.

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I had been thinking that I’d stop in Ossian on my way back, but at this point it became clear that I didn’t have enough daylight for that stop, so I decided to skip it and just head back fairly directly.

Now I had to struggle into the wind for basically the last 15 miles of the ride. I put my head down and just rode. It was slow going, with that damn wind!

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Another cemetery caught my eye, this time Elhanan Cemetery.

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These three silos served as a good landmark that I was getting somewhat close.

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The Trucker was the perfect bike for this ride. Good on pavement, good on icy gravel … just generally good at basically everything.

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I stopped for a shot of my bike with the Christmas lights on, in front of this iconic caboose in Fort Wayne.

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By the end of the day, I had ridden over 37 miles. This was further than I expected to go, but when you ditch your route and wing it, that happens. I had a lot of fun, despite the rather harsh wind.

I relish these rides. I appreciate that I get to ride, even when I’m out of town, and riding somewhere different is always fun, even if it’s not an exotic location. It’s interesting how different the terrain can be, even without going far from home.

Snowbiking on the Bloomington Rail-Trail

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

On Sunday, I didn’t have a lot of time to ride, but I did manage to get out for about an hour. I decided to ride my 29er down to the Bloomington Rail-Trail. The roads were clear, but the trail had a few inches of snow on it, with an icy crust on top of that, so it was rather challenging riding. I passed a farm, which I have often wondered about.

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It turns out it’s home to the PALS program. According to their Web site:

People and Animal Learning Services, Inc. (PALS) is dedicated to providing high-quality, safe, educational, fun and therapeutic animal assisted activities such as therapeutic horseback riding, hippotherapy, animal care and pet encounter therapy to children and adults with physical, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities.

I think that’s pretty damn cool.

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I rode on, stopping by a creek.

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Parts of the trail feel remote, even though it crosses a few roads, and parallels another road.

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The crunchy layer on top of the snow made going a little tough, but letting out some tire pressure helped. Really, the 29er did pretty well in this stuff.

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I went under State Road 37, a fairly busy highway.

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At some point, I decided to go off the trail to explore a bit. I wasn’t really sure if I was supposed to be there, but there were no gates or signs preventing entry. I seemed to be at a water treatment plant. Looking at a map, I think it’s the Dillman Wastewater Treatment Plant.

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For a while, I rode in virgin snow, which was deeper and trickier to navigate. Fun, though!

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Eventually I reached an area with a few buildings. I decided to turn back, since I wasn’t really sure if I was supposed to be there.

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I headed back, and got back on the trail.

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Toward the end of the trail, I heard quite a racket. I looked up to see many, many birds in the trees above.

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Then it was just a matter of riding back the way I came.

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I went about eight miles in about an hour. I normally don’t care for rail-trails, but in the winter, they are a good way to get away from cars and get to ride in the snow.

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