Turtle-goose Monroe ride

May 31
I took a short loop alone this evening, it was maybe a little misty, but the roads were dry. I went down Harrell to Stipp and on to the Lake, I saw only some geese and a turtle in Moore’s Creek at the bridge. I heard a big owl hooting in valley as I started up the hill, and stopped to listen. Dan Schaffer drove by, and stopped to say hi. Moore’s Creek is definately easier to climb than either Stipp or Schwartz Ridge. I took Snoody back north and home, a really calming ride that insured a good nite’s sleep.

Distance: 20 miles
Weather: Cloudy warm, with wafting flower smells.
Sightings: Turtle, Geese, and the first fireflies of the season.

Surfin’ Four Storms Ride

May 27, 2007

We spent quite a while messing with my bike before leaving, it had a back tire flat, and I had buy new rubber and put it on with Jojo’s help. But I got the tire a little too wide, and had to take it back, and we finally got it changed out at the Bike Garage, they rock for sure, to get it done at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon. We got back and in place, including the complex connection for the internal hub. Then it rained like crazy for a while, it was not looking good, all the signs were against a good ride. As it turned out to be one of the best of the year, I have to say that perserverance and working through problems in a relaxed yett persistant manner can lead to amazing results.

So it was a late start, and when we got to Jackson Creek School we heard rain coming in, then felt it, and we sprinted for the school, where we hid under the overhang by the nearest door. There were about 8 guys down in the field playing softball, the rain did not bother them, they kept playing…for a while. After about 5 minutes of downpour, the lightening picked up, and a blast of wind and water came right at us, pushing us against the doorway, it must have be at least 40mph when it came in. Then it was tropical downpour for another 5 minutes, then sunshine.

We took off, rode up the hill and headed to Harrell, we ate up some miles till Stipp Rd, and were a bit cautious coming down the hill as it was wet. We got to the lake, dipped our bikes into the water and gazed out yonder over the water. We saw something out in the water, maybe someone in a small inflatable, but they he stood up and started paddling towards us. We stood there amazed as Bill (see Feb 11 ride), who we had seen on his surfboard last year, but did not get to talk to him till we met him on this year’s ice trip.

So when Bill asked if we wanted to try it out, what do you think we said?
Jojo’s surf training w/ BillStarting outJojo hangs 10

Am I happy?Halfway across the lake in no timeWhere do you get one of these?

Jojo took the board out one more time while Bill got his truck and dog Rosa, the most amazing swimmer I have ever seen, what an amazingly well trained dog. Bill got his board loaded just as another storm came tearing through, we hid under a couple of cedars, but after a while there was no hiding, it was just plain wet. So as so as it let up enough to see we headed out, and up the hill to 446. We felt fine, certainly no problems with heat, so we kept going to Pine Grove, which was incredibley beautiful with the fog hanging over distant ridges. We waited out a final storm in the woods, then headed home, not tired, but exilerated by our wettest ride of the year.

View from Pine Grove, May 27, 2007Fogboat at Pinegrove

Weather: Sun, clouds, rain, wind and calm. Several serious storms, we needed the rain! Temp: 65-80 degrees.

Flora/Fauna: High-backed box turtles crossing the road, they do this every time it rains in summer. We scared a buzzard along the roadside who flew up along with us for a while, then winged off into the woods, barely making it between two trees, the yelling at us as we went by. I remembered a recent new article about a cyclist being attacked by a buzzard in England and kept pedaling. There were so many smells, we just could not identify all the various scents, but with sweet earthy smell of new rain, the flowers’ aromas hung in pockets all along the road.

Route: Bike route to Rhorer Rd at Sare Rd., east to Harrell, south to Moffett, east again past Handy and down Stipp Rd. to the lake. Up Schwartz Ridge to 446, south to Pine Grove Rd, which we rode to th end. Back up Pine Grove and 446 to town.

Distance: 35 miles

Muscatatuck Flower Ride

Wed, May 23
We started about 6 pm and rode an easy (not really, after a full day’s work) 30 miles up Bottom Road to Muscatatuck Wildlife refuge. The water was way down, and we saw only a couple of ducks. But the leaves are now fully out, and the wildflowers are growing, well like wildflowers. Bottom Road is well named, the beautiful wide flat fields flood easily. There are quite a few spots where the water pools, and swampy areas develop where the blue flag (wild iris) grows in profusion.

Blue Flag on Bottom RdBlue Flag FamilyFootprints_Deer and Heron

We also found a single Fire Pink (Silene virginica). Although it is always strikingly red, it is named “pink’ for the notch in each petal (as if from pinking shears). Also we found this Solomon’s Seal, it can be hard to see from the road because of the green flowers.
Fire PinkSolomon’s Seal

Miles: 30
Weather: Warm and breezy, few clouds
Flora and Fauna: Blue Flag, Star flower, Solomon’s Seal, ducks and buzzards.

Chipmunk Forest Ride

May 19, 2007
Weather: warm/cool depending on the sun. More chipmunks than any other creatures, even bugs.
Distance: 55 Miles

Route: Cascades Park to old SR 37, straight north past Hindustan and Bryant’s Creek Lake, then right on Forest Rd. Forest Rd to Gose Creek, then back along Forest Rd. to Bean Blossom and down the ridge into Green Valley and then right on Anderson Rd, then Anderson to Old 37 and back to Bloomington.

This was our longest ride yet this year, but as we had few big hills, rode about 10 miles along the forest ridge, so we did not bonk, and actually hit the top of Firehouse Hill with some juice left. The weather was perfect, cool at all the right times with breezy blue skies.

We saw a lot of this common wildflower, Daisy Fleabane, it is everywhere along the roadside. Forest Road is 5 miles of smooth traveling, recently blacktopped wiht no hills. It is still quite cool on the ridge as the sun does not really heat the road, and the wind whistles through the trees. Keep on going and you will find the firetower picnic/camping area. Keep on going, and you can end up at Low Gap, which you can take back to Anderson, it adds about 5 miles.
Daisy FleabaneForest RoadFire Tower in Morgan Monroe State Forest

We saw these bat houses all over the forest, this one at Gose Rd. had mud wasp nests in it. We came back along Forest Rd, then down Bean Blossom hill into Green Valley and heard a wide variety of birds as we coasted through. On Anderson Rd, we passed acres and acres of newly plowed and planted corn fields.
Bat houseUnknown wildflowerAnderson Rd Farm

Along Anderson Rd we found a bunch of this wet loving segmented plant. Do you know what it is? We also are seeing a lot of Phlox, with some interesting color variations. On the way to Dolan we saw this deer sprint for several hundred yards.
Indiana bambooPholxDeer in Bean Blossom valley

Go west old men!

May 12, 2007
Route: Clear Creek Trail to Rockport Rd., Rockport to That, That to Leonard Springs (stop at Springs). Back to Eller Rd, Eller to Garrison Chapel, north to Gardner, over the ridge on Gardner to SR 43, north to Whitehall and east to Vernal Pike, and back to town.

Miles: 38, 11.5mph

Weather: perfect, hot till we got to the springs and cooled off, then after 5pm, a wonderful light cool breeze.

Nature sightings: A large hawk, a redtail, or perhaps a northern harrier, flew right over us on Vernal Pike, while being harrassed by a gang of smaller birds, who kept dive bombing the hawk. Leonard Springs, even after several weeks of dry weather, was flowing freely, the waterfalls were all splashing, and the water was cooling. Surprisingly the mossy green stuff that grows in the rocks in the stream was not at all slippery, and the water itself unbelievably clear, the ony taste being the mineral content.

Shirley SpringsDouble Falls at the springsWide falls at Shirley Springs

There is a lot of relatively flat karsty territory out west of Bloomington, perfect for raising (longhorn) cattle.

Hoosier LonghornCow fieldMustard Field

Vernal Pike is perhaps one of the eastiest returns to town after a long trip, a bit of a climb to get across 37, but nothing compared to Mt. Gilead, Kerr Creek, Schwartz Ridge or Bottom Rd. You gradually ride out of the Richland Creek Valley, quite idyllic (except for the PCBs down stream from Conard’s Branch.) When we got to Loesch Rd, we found Vernal Pike closed due to the renovation of the bridge, looks like a month or so more before it opens (you can get across, but it is not easy.)

Silo on Vernal PikeVernal FarmhouseVernal Pike closed

Ladyslipper, Geranium, Tananger Forest ride

May 5, 2007–Summary
Weather: Overcast and windy 65-70°
Miles: 45, major hills 3 (Bean Blossom, Bryants Creek, Firehouse)
Nature Sightings: Yellow Lady Slipper, Wild Geranium, Scarlet Tananger, wind from the east

Today it looked like rain, but hey, no problem, we felt a few drops, but no rain. We decided to try riding SR 45 all the way to Tunnel Road, and we thought we might not have any crazy drivers, but we did, though it was the opposite of what we expected. At least 5 times cars piled up behind us even though we rode single file, they just would not go around till we pulled over in a drive way. I guess this is better than the one guy who just had to pass us by swinging totally into the other lane with oncoming traffic. I think turning on Mt. Gilead is the better option, it is about a mile longer, and has a steep climb, but it is much safer and much more scenic.

We rode down Tunnel to Shilo, and then road Shilo to Anderson, stopping at wirelessdeerfence.com on the way. We stopped on the bridge over the Bean Blossom, noted the low water level and saw some portion of a vehicle stuck in the mud bottom.

Bean Blossom Creek at Shilo Rd.Car Parts in the creek

We turned right (east) on Anderson, passed the gravel road (Farr) into the Morgan MonroeForest, then came to Bean Blossom, which runs a valley and then climbs the ridge to Forest Rd. Though a bit of a climb, it is shady, and it is really well paved, with wild geraniums by the roadside. I pulled out my flower book and identified wild geraniums growing along the roadside in the valley. Just about half way up the hill Jojo spotted a yellow flower down the hillside. We stopped and looked closer, and it was the beautiful and rare yellow ladyslipper (Cypripedium calceolus), one of the few northern orchids, which can live up to 40 years. I took some pics, and we continued up the hill, there was a pull over spot and Jojo’s keen eyes saw a red bird with black wings land in a tree nearby. I got a good look at it as it flew to another branch, and said “It’s a scarlet tananger.” I’d never seen one, so I pulled out my bird book, and sure enough it was a male tananger. I got a distant shot, you can just see the color and pattern.

Scarlet TanagerWild Geranium, May 07Yellow Ladyslipper

Turning left (west) on Forest Road, what a beautiful stretch it is riding the high ridge towards old 37, the cool east wind behind us. The road had pull-offs, we stopped at one to ponder the wired fence posts. At 37 we south back to Boomington, first down into Bryant’s Creek valley, then back up to the ridge, almost no traffic, past the orchard and church at Hindustan.
Talk about your fence posts….Hindustan Christian Church

The road then drops back into the Bean Blossom bottoms, which is mostly grazing country; we saw these sheep, plus pigs, cattle, and buzzards overhead. We crested firehouse hill, below is a picture of a biker’s favorite sight, Fire Station #5.
On the farmFirehouse