July Swim Rides

Since our first swim ride in late June, we have spent several weekends starting with the best intentions to ride far, but the heat just became oppressive after an hour, so we just end up hitting one of the many routes to Lake Monroe for an extended swim/float/dive session. At times we have simply go to a boat ramp, and with no one around because of the high water, swam and dived for hours. On other occasions we’ve had to trek a while through the summer woods to a more secluded place. I’ve found some great flowers, mushrooms and ferns along the way.

We take these square floatation cushions that allow us to float and swim with little effort, so we just hang out in water when not diving. This year’s floods allowed me to use a sycamore as a diving board, and some big stones line the shore with deep water below (yes, we always check). When the water is down, we have a favorite diving log, which should show as the soon the lake level is now at 540 feet, just 2 feet above normal pool level. Last summer was a drought year and the lake looked much different than now.

This is usually under water!

This year there are no lotus growing at Pine Grove, where as last year there were thousands of flowers. I have seen them at Lake Lemon, and also one little clump at Yellowwood lake. The bryzoans we found in abundance last year are nearly absent, but for one little clump we found in July. Yellow lotus, July 2007

Cooper’s Hawks return to Dunn’s Woods, again

Cooper's Hawk nestDay before yesterday I was showing Eileen the nest the Cooper’s Hawks built early this spring, then abandoned, or so I thought. There was a big storm with lots of cold wind when they first nested, and I did not see them again for 2 months. But while we were looking, one of the hawks flew to about 20 feet from us and landed on a low branch.

Then last night as I was going home, I heard calls from all over the woods, there must have been at least 3 birds flying and calling, it seemed one was in the nest, the other a few trees away, and a parent or two flying around. I am assuming the the fledglings are just learning to fly, and the parents brought them to the woods for hunting lessons. I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open in the next few weeks,
Cooper’s Hawk call

July 4th Weekend Rides

I was off work Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but Jojo was out of town. On the Fourth I rode down to a party on Handy Road, a short 20 miles of easy riding, the only climb being Rhorer Road coming out of Jackson Creek valley. I got back around dusk and Tim, Eileen and I watched the fireworks from the Von Lee windows, cool, quiet and colorful.

On Saturday after playing at the Market, I rode out to the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Dagom Geden Tensung Ling Monastery, on their new land near Dolan. Most serious bike riders know Dolan as the crossroads north of town where Old 37 intersects with Robinson Road and Boltinghouse Rd from the east. Both of these roads boast pretty tough climbs, Robinson rises in several stages, and Boltinghouse is one steep, then steeper grade. Dolan Road is a quiet gravel road that runs to the west, climbing right up the ridge and alont the top for about a mile. There is nothing but woods up there till you get to a house with ridgetop fields all around. Farther on at the very end of the ridge were the last fields, with a big white tent with music issuing forth, and people milling all about.

Salam was playing, and they were great as usual. I played with some with Jarno and Solveg, but there was just so much for them to do. I walked around the ridgetop meadow while Michael White played a set. The whole right fork of the field was cut short, but it was made mostly of poison ivy and I forgot about listening for woodland edge birds. I walked back to the tent, and watched while the musicians received katas from the monks, and then Kenny Aranov took the stage and played a ten minute drum solo. Nick, his son, is a member of the community and intends taking vows. Toward the end of the solo, Nick took the stage on a second set of drums, and they finished off playing together.

Rather than go straight back south on Old 37, I decided to head east on Boltinghouse Rd., and although I considered going up the hill, I opted for Earl Young Rd, which runs up a scenic farming valley for a mile or two, and then crosses the creek to rise a steep 200 feet on gravel. Not much traffic, and fun to ride (actually I always walk up the hill, the loose gravel is too much on my recumbent). Earl Young is paved at the top of the hill and it is short ride to SR 45. It’s about a mile to New Unionville and then on back to Bloomington on the highway, another 3 or 4 miles of fast riding. I generally turn off the highway at Smith Road, and then turn down to the Polly Grimshaw Trail to campus.

Yellowwood Lake ride

Even though I had gone to Meeting first, and the morning was blown, I rode straight out SR 46 to Belmont, it was hairy only when the big boats passed me, but there were a couple of long wagon trains that had to pass me. I took the left on Jackson Creek Road, it climbs a little, then follows along Salt Creek for a while, then winds along Jackson Creek, which flows from Lake Yellowwood. I got to the crossroads where Jackson Creek Rd. ends at Yellowwood Rd. I started north, the all gravel road was hard packed and easy to ride.

I passed several campsites, and stopped at the ranger station for water, otherwise it would have been a long way to Unionville. The ride up Yellowwood was quiet and uneventful, I had worried there would be a bunch of traffic to the lake, but not so. I saw up close and heard a scarlet tanager, they are a slightly different color of bright red than a cardinal, but with all black wings. I also ran past a pair of red-headed woodpeckers, they flew in different directions from their perch on a wire.

Yellowwood Rd. climbs gently for about 4.5 miles though the Jackson Creek valley, and gets steep only at the end where it rises to meet Lanam Ridge Rd. As usual, riding on the rough roads took more out of me than smooth asphalt, so I ate the last of my Clif cubes, drank some water, and started back. If you stay on SR 45, it is about 17.5 miles back to town, and for a while I followed a hay wagon, it sure made the cars slow down before passing. But I got tired of the slow pace and finally passed just as I left Brown county. I decided to go back via Mt. Gilead to Kerr Creek, it is just a mile or two longer, and much less stressful, just a few cows, buzzards and fellow bikers rather than car traffic. I think the whole deal was between 35-40 miles, with about 7 of those on gravel, so all in all a good trip, not exhausting, but definately tiring, in a good cleansing way.