New Covered Bike Rack

New bike rack at Bloomingfoods WestA new U bike rack has been installed at Bloomingfoods West, and it is under the roof. It looks like a city install, does anyone know?

I also noticed that there are 2 covered racks at the new Fess St. parking garage one on the northeast corner and one at the southwest corner, just outside the offices.

Here is my gallery of covered bike racks, I will keep it updated if folks send me more locations to shoot.

Pine Grove fills up

I left work right at 5 pm Monday (usually it’s 6 or 6:30), and scooted on home to grab a snack and head out for Pine Grove Boat Ramp, I want start pushing up my weekly average, and this would get me to 75 miles for the week with my commuting.

It’s an easy 10 miles to the ramp, I use either the middle route (Covenanter east through through to 446 at Moore’s Pike, or on the Polly Grimshaw Trail to 3rd St. and 446). I always ride on the winding Knight’s Ridge Rd. which parallels the highway, which has a plenty of room to ride, but just feels less safe and is not as scenic. I just turn left on Pine Grove Rd, just past the log church. This road can be quite gritty, so I took it easy coming downhill using my brakes softly. The last steep part at the bottom is safe, so I got up to 36 mph heading into the flats, which had water on both sides another couple of inches and the road will be covered as it is on Stipp and Moore’s Creek Rds.

At the ramp, the water was so high there was no shoreline to walk along, and across the bay water was right up to the trees. Just a few months ago we walked most of the way east to the ridges, no water there but the channel.

Water road with swamped treesHigh water on the south shoreMarch’s Gray on Gray Palette

The climb back up Pine Grove Rd. always gets me warmed up after standing around by the water, it comes in several stages with flat areas in between.

Nature notes: Cool gray evening, no large birds other than a buzzard, and a few woodpeckers in the woods. I am thinking of getting some bird recordings for my ipod, I want learn some new calls, you just can’t see everything.

Snowy Easter 40

On Sunday, I woke a bit late, the house does not get light till after 8 am. It took a while to get ready, it was in the 30’s and I wanted to be ready for anything, and this was fortunate, because I got everything from a snow squall and to a warming sun and billowy clouds.

Here us a full album of pictures I took that day.

Since it was Easter, the streets were quiet, and I simply rode straight out SR 46 to Friendship Rd. I knew the water had to be high, so I rode down the road, determined to make it to old steel bridge over Stephens Creek. I couldn’t tell how deep the water was over the road, but I’ve run through water several times on Moore’s Creek Rd, so I knew it was possible. However I forgot that my feet got wet last time, and it happened again, but I kept going and got to the bridge without falling.
Friendship Rd., and no paddleFlooded Stephn’s CreekMitch at Stephen’s Creek

As usual, I was wearing my sandals and two pair of socks. I am here to tell you, wool does keep you dry even when wet. The flood water was really cold, but after a few minutes of standing around on the bridge taking pictures, and were my feet were fine, I could feel them as cool but not cold. As soon as I got on the road again, I warmed up and did not change out of them for 2 more hours. By then the sun had disappeared, and I was on the ridge in a snow squall. So I pulled out my dry pair of socks, and then wrapped in foot in some plastic from a bag I had with me. This kept the wind off and even with just one pair of socks and 35 degree weather, I was fine.

I headed on up the highway and turned north on Brummett’s Creek to SR 45 at Unionville. Brummett’s Creek valley is a great 3 mile ride, a fertile agricultural valley surrounded by forest ridges, and the climb at the end is not so bad, steep at first, but it levels off before going up again at an easier grade. I rode to the highway, and then back towards town to pick up Tunnel Rd., which I rode to Shilo Rd., a quiet ridgetop ride that ends in the Bean Blossom Valley at Anderson Rd. It started snowing, and I pulled down my earflaps, with the big soft flakes clouding my glasses. I rode to Old 37, and then climbed up through Fox Hollow, I liked this road, it seemed very quiet. I crossed SR 37, riding it south for a few hundred yards to pick up Simpson Chapel Rd. to Bottom Rd, and then south to town and in along Kinser Pike and Cascades Park.

The weather had a little of everything, warm sun, fluffy clouds, overcast skies, cool winds, rain, snow, all in the range of 30-40 degrees. I saw no cranes this week, but spotted a red tail hawk along Brummett’s Creek. I usually see a murder of crows, but not today, and only a couple of buzzards were out. I did see a large bird in the Bean Blossom valley, it had a large wingspan, but not the long legs of a heron or crane. It was flying low over the grass in the field, sweeping back and forth, but headed for the woods when it saw me. It was a dark bird with white on the tail, but not at the tip like an eagle, but rather near the base.

I totaled over 40 miles, I had been waiting for a time I could spend the majority of the day on my bike and this was it. I tried to keep my blood sugar up, Sue recommended 150 calories/hour, and I’ve been liking the Clif Shot Bloks, they are tasty and good to suck on as you ride. They are mostly rice syrup, thus mainly glucose, which goes right to where its needed. I took some time and ate a full Clif bar and drank mint green tea at lunch, just to make sure I had the juice to make it back without bonking. Well, it worked, I came back strong. I didn’t need a nap, helped Eileen a bit coloring Easter eggs, and then we went out to Shanti with Tim for dinner. No problem! But I did feel a bit like a blackboard that had not only been erased, but wiped down well with water and a sponge.

Snow flakes over the valleyFarm and Snow Clouds on Bottom Rd.Swollen Bean Blossom Creek

Lemon Lane Cranes, Hawks, & Herons

This Sunday morning we headed out to see how it would be to ride to Jojo’s spring job on Shilo Rd. Before I even got the BBC, I ran into Sue at the gates with a bunch of other riders, ready to head out, and to my surprise, Jason and Angela were in the group, that was great.

Jojo and I headed into Cascades Park, across Walnut, up Hillview Rd., then north on Old 37 to Dolan. We decided to go up Robinson Rd. then onto Miller Rd, which ends on Shilo. Robinson was relatively easy to climb, it comes in 3 steep climbs, with nearly level stretches in between, giving time to rest before the next climb. There is a great view through the trees of the wide Bean Blossom valley, but only in winter when the leaves are gone. We were hoping that Miller would be exciting to go down, it is a real monster coming up, but it was covered with sand, really curvey and steep, so we took it easy coming down. The lowlands in the valley were filled with peepers, especially near the streams and swampy areas, and great blue heron flew right over our heads. We climbed up Shilo, it just keeps going up in spurts, kind of like Robinson Rd.

We stopped at the world headquarters of (it really works!), where we ate a little and drank some water; we had pretty much hammered the whole way there, with 3 climbs and no stops. We then rode out to Tunnel Rd, and headed for Lake Lemon, riding along South Shore Rd. with the lake and hills all around.

Clouds over Lake LemonBlue Skies behind the clouds

Riding the Causeway Video

We decided to go straight back on SR 45, just to see what it is like, usually I cut off and ride Mt. Gilead, it adds a mile and a hill, but is much quieter. But soon after reaching the ridgetop, just past Lanam Ridge Rd., we started to hear and see cranes flying in from the south, literally hundreds of them in groups of 20-75, they would arrive in a vee formation, then start circling and making their characteristic calls, then more would arrive and melt in, it was quite something. Then just before we left, we heard hawks calling, and watched them rising on the updrafts coming out of the valley, it seemed to be a mating display, they were definitely not hunting.

We goofed around a little, I did an impression of a raccoon climbing a fallen tree, then we hit the road, passing the B & B water tower. We made good time and were back in about 45 minutes. The highway can be a bit stressful, but most drivers were courteous, maybe because there were so many bikes on the road, training for the Little 5 has begun in earnest.
Resting our steeds before the last leg homeGoofing offB & B Water tower

Here is a video of the cranes as seen from the ridge on SR 45 in Brown County. Flock after flock were arriving in V formation, then breaking in the their peculiar circling motion once they hit the updrafts coming up the ridge south of Lake Lemon. Their calls were overwhelming, and could be heard for miles. They must have been reforming the ranks before heading out, as we had seen none done by the lake. We then heard a distinctive call rising above the crowd noise, and we were able to see 3 or 4 cranes in a little V heading away from the group to the northwest, and they were making a single loud, repeated call rather than the gobbling of the group, you can clearly hear the sound in the video below. As we watched the main body begin to follow the little V, we knew they were calling out “Hey everybody, I remember this, we have to go this way!” I guess they get so dizzy from flying in circles on the updrafts, that most of them get confused, and the few scouts have to lead the way.

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Summary: 35 miles, 10 mph, 4 valley to ridge top climbs, mating hawks, no leaves, gazillions of cranes, and a lone blue heron. Mostly cloudy skies with blue showing through, west winds and 40 degrees and damp.

Pine Grove Sunset ride

Jojo and I went astray on Sunday, his derailleur broke off with a portion of the frame as we were passing through Jackson Creek Park. I rode back and borrowed Eileen’s car to pick up Joe and his bike, which we dropped off at Bikesmith’s for repair. This only gave me ten miles for the day, so on Monday I took an after work ride to Pine Grove, a 20 mile out and back that we often like to ride, it is low stress, and the wildlife is always abundant back there.

The water was finally up, 544.3′ amsl, 6.3′ above “normal” pool level of 538′ amsl, according to the army’s daily reports. It’s amazing to see the lake again, for many months the creek channel held the only water, there are acres and acres of water only a foot or two deep. I watched for birds, but there was not much action, things need to warm up a bit. Last week I saw 3 flocks of cranes flying north. They were in a pretty good V at first, so I thought they might be geese, but they were very high up. Then the flock preformed the characteristic crane parley, where they break ranks and circle up, often making the gobbling sound that can be heard for miles. Then they reformed their big V and headed northwest, a sure sign of spring.

Late afternoon, and water now covers all of the Pine Grove bayLooking across the bayHigh water at the boat ramp

Bloomington Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission

Here is the what we on the Bike/Ped Commission are to be doing, according to the municipal code. Unfortunately, there are a several unfunded mandates in our charter, but we do the best we can.

2.12.080 Bloomington Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission.

(1) Purpose. The purpose of this commission is to promote and encourage bicycling, walking and running in a safe and efficient manner in the City of Bloomington for the purpose of health, recreation and transportation.
(2) Appointments. The commission shall consist of seven members appointed in the following manner:
(A) The Mayor shall make four appointments. Preference for two of those four appointments will be given one member from The Bloomington Bicycle Club Inc. and one member from The Bloomington Track Club Inc. The above named organizations shall submit a list of at least three names to the Mayor for consideration.
(B) The Common Council shall make three appointments. Preference for one of those three appointments will be given to one member from The Indiana University Student Association. The above named organization shall submit a list of at least three names to the Common Council for consideration.
(3) Terms. The initial terms of the members shall be staggered. All subsequent terms shall be for two years.
(4) Removal. Members may be removed for cause by the Mayor or Common Council. “Cause” shall include, but not be limited to, failure to attend three consecutive regularly scheduled OR four regularly scheduled commission meetings within a twelve-month period. The commissioner shall have the right to submit in writing any extenuating circumstances to the Mayor or Common Council before the formal decision to remove is reached. However, acceptance of extenuating circumstances puts the Commissioner on notice that further excessive absenteeism will result in removal.
(5) Meetings. The Commission shall meet at times and places as agreed on by the Commission and shall advertise those meeting times and places in accordance with the law. In any event the Commissioner shall meet no less than six times per calendar year.
(6) Duties. The duties of this commission shall be as follows:
(A) To serve as a citizens forum for discussion and recommendation of improvement to existing facilities and planning of new projects concerning safe access for cyclists, pedestrians and runners;
(B) To prepare reports and recommendations to the Mayor, Common Council, Plan Commission and Public Works Department as needed, concerning the needs of cyclists, pedestrians and runners within the City;
(C) To foster and develop safety programs for cyclists, pedestrians and runners;
(D) To encourage the hosting of cycling, walking and running events conducted in a safe manner which will attract visitors from outside of the City. (Ord. 02-15 § 1, 2002; Ord. 89-22 §§ 1, 2, 1989).

Dubois Ridge Rd. Slog

Photo Gallery

Jojo was out of town this weekend, so I decided to scout a new route (to me) on the backroads of Brown County. To get to Kent Road quickly, I road on SR 46 east from Bloomingfoods, there is a bit of paved shoulder most of the way there, allowing cars to pass safely. At the hill I waited for a car to pass, then flew down and was on Kent Road in just a few minutes. I averaged 15 mph over six miles, no doubt a record for me! I stopped and took a picture at the confluence of Brummett’s and Salt Creek, it was full, but nowhere near flooding from the recent melting of the snow and ice.

Kent Road is gravel from McGowen to T.C. Steele Rd., and as I had to travel more slowly, I was conscious of the wonderful views of the floodplain, the road runs just south of winding Salt Creek. I stopped for a minute on the T.C. Steele Rd. bridge, then headed west on hilly Schooner Valley Rd. It ends on SR 46, so I had to take a short jog back west to catch Yellowwood Road. I went up over the little hill and into the valley, and on to the old bridges over Salt Creek; here Dubois Ridge, Green Valley, and Yellowwood Roads intersect at the creek. I stopped for a few minutes and listened to the hawks calling me to climb Dubois Ridge, they can be heard at the beginning of the video below.

Brummet’s Creek, meet Salt Creek, you two should get togetherT.C. Steele bridge over Salt CreekSalt Creek at Belmont

At the intersection of Green Valley, Yellowwood and Dubois Ridge Roads:

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Dubois Ridge is gravel all the way from here to SR 46, about 4.5 miles of forest solitude. The first climb is about 100 ft, so it is not too bad to gain the ridge. But there are number of other climbs, the bottoms are at 561 feet AMSL, while the ridge at the north end of the ridge is over 900 fee, so you climb about 340 feet in height, on gravel. The dreaded Boltinghouse climb is less than 200 feet to put that in perspectiveve.
The roadbed is clay some loose pushed to the sides and middle by cars. This day the road had long stretches of sticky mud, and I left tracks behind especially when I was climbing, and I actually started to spin out on one climb (so I walked.)

Here I am complaining about the goopy mud as I ride through the empty forest.

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I stopped at the Tecumseh Trail head, parked my bike, and walked down to the little pond along the ridgetop. As there were pine trees to the south and west, the pond does not get a lot of sun, and so was still frozen, even though it had been 40 degrees for several days. I then rode on to Lanam Ridge Road and headed west towards SR 45.

Tire Tracks in the goopOn the frozen pondCows calling along SR 45

I hit the highway, and was going along fine when I felt a wobble just as some cows were calling out to me from the fence line ‘Moo-ve overer, Moo-ve over”. I pulled over and found my back tire going flat. I located my trusty pump and went to work, got it pumped up and headed out. I had to stop in another 5 minutes and pump again, then again. I stopped at the Unionville fire station and called Eileen to come and get me at it was sunset and though I had pedaled only 25 miles by the odometer, it felt like a lot more from riding the gravel roads. She showed up quick like a bunny, and I was home before dark.