Why Bike

March 2007

In my original rationale for bike riding, written in 2002, I mention both the health benefits and my love of being close to nature. Now I realize that I have some other motivations as well, I’ll fill these in as I have time.

  • Adventure
  • Low oil lifestyle
  • Local
  • Time for Reflection

Here is some stuff I wrote back in ’02, before blogging hit the big time!

In the Fall 1998 I started riding my bike (an old Schwinn Collegiate that I bought to commute to my job at the Bloomington Voice/Independent). After much cogitation, I bought a Trek 700 in July of 1999. A hybrid bike, it offered me the ability to hit the road for a long ride around Lake Monroe, but also served to navigate the potholes of Bloomington. I rode it through December of 1999, and I am sure it was a major contributing factor to a neck spasm, causing pain and numbness down my neck and back. As I ride to lower my blood pressure, I could not give up riding. Through the generous help of good friend Kevin Atkins, I was able to start riding an old (but well maintained) Rans Status.

I try to enjoy short trips (15-20 mi.) each day, and once a week a longer journey (40+ mi.), usually around Lake Monroe to the south, or around Lake Lemon to the north. I logged 4500 miles in 2001, but due to an increased work load, made just 3800 in 2002. I replaced the back cassette and chain last spring, which improved the over all performance by 20 percent. I have been having trouble in the recent snow with freezing cables, but no falls as yet!

While riding my mind is occupied with observing the plants and wildlife here in southern Indiana. In a single week I’ve seen kingfishers, hoot owls, bluebirds, hawks and eagles. I’ve coasted past fawns standing innocently in the road, and saw my first red fox crossing Lanham Ridge Road (and I have seen 3 more since). On March 8, 2003 while riding around Lake Monroe, I saw first a flock of sandhill cranes, then a group of very talkative red-tailed hawks, and on Chapel Hill road I startled by 4 wild turkeys, who flew right past me. On the botanical side, I’ve found wild bergamot, bellflower, fire pink, and pawpaw. I’ve eaten dandelion, watercress, mulberries, apples, black raspberries, blackberries, may apples, sumac, rosehips, persimmons, and mushrooms, including a specimen of Agaricus Campestris, I found right on the IU campus!

My concern about the PCB pollution here led me to study the watersheds and the karst typography of Bloomington, and I’ve developed an interest in knowing where I am in relation to waterflow, what creek or sinkhole takes the water I see on my rides. We have some great hills here, dropping in and out of the creeks that feed the two forks of the White River in the Norman Uplands/Mitchell Plain area where Bloomington is located.

May Apple, Podophyllum peltatum

May Apple, Podophyllum peltatum
May Apple, Podophyllum peltatum
May Apple, Podophyllum peltatum, aka American Mandrake and Ground Lemon, is common in the woodlands of southern Indiana, and is well represented in Dunn Woods. Last week they were just starting to poke their heads up, but this week they have fully popped out their full leaves. May apples typically have one or two large leaves. The two leaf versions produce flowers and eventually (in June) a fruit. They grow in colonies from a single rhizome, or rootstock. As an alternate name (American Mandrake) suggests, the plants are toxic, containing podophyllotoxin, which is used topically to remove warts, and has shown some promise as an anti-cancer and anti-viral agent, but don’t try this at home!

They produce a smooth lemon sized fruit that is edible in small quantities when fully ripe (they turn from green to yellow when ready). Some folks have a bad reaction to them, but I found them delicious, they are sweet/sour, and have the consistency of grapes. But they are very are to find when ripe, it seem the mammals in the woods get to them just as they turn yellow, it is a bit like trying to find a ripe paw paw, the animals know where and when to pick, and don’t leave much for humans!

Turkey Tails – Trametes & Stereum

These two mushrooms are often confused with each other as they have a similar appearance, both resembling a turkey’s tail, fan-like and with bands of muted browns, gray-blues, tans, whites and even green (when colonized by algae). Both are common year round on dead and dying wood, and both are white rot decomposers, eating the brown lignons in wood, leaving the white cellulose for other fungi. Trametes versicolor is the true turkey tail, whereas Stereum ostrea is known as false turkey tail. It is not a polypore like T. versicolor, it has no pores underneath the cap, and is classed as a crust fungi.

Sterium ostea, aka False Turkey Tail
Sterium ostea, aka False Turkey Tail
Sterium ostrea underside, note the smooth surface, no pores, ridges or teeth.
Sterium ostrea underside, note the smooth surface, no pores, ridges or teeth.
Trametes versicolor, aka Turkey Tail
Trametes versicolor, aka Turkey Tail
Trametes versicolor pores
Trametes versicolor pores
Phlebia incarnata, Sterium ostrea
Sterium ostrea with Phlebia incarnata being the pink one. P. incarnata is always found growing with Stereum, but Stereum is often found alone.

Kite Training with Dexter

IMG_0045

Dexter has a couple of favorite activities, including train spotting. He lives just a couple of blocks from the train line where it splits with one line heading northeast and the other towards the southwest and the Indiana coal fields. So one line has a lot of freight traffic with lettering that indicate shipments from China and beyond, the other is pretty much a coal line heading towards the Indianapolis power stations.

Especially fascinating are the local engines that stop right at the Habitat Trail View site, and the engineer or brakeman jumps out of the engine, and then goes back to the switch station, unlocks it, and then pulls the handle over to switch the tracks to the other line. Sometimes they even back up to the other track and switch the tracks back to allow an express freight train to pull through. We often hear the engines “making up” a line of boxcars on the westside of SR 37, there are a number of spurs around the GE plant on Curry Pike. Not as often we hear them making up a train on the eastside, there are a number of sidings where the line runs along 12th Street between Walnut and Fess Streets. So we hear the whistles, but often a train does not come by, a bit of a disappointment.

IMG_9106

So I always carry a kite with me, just in case the trains do not come by, and the wind is right. We have a small sled kite with no ribs, no skeleton, which makes it easy to keep in my bag or pocket, but it will work well only with somewhat strong winds. So Trail View is a good spot for both train spotting and kite flying, at least until all the houses are built. On Sunday the wind was high, and the trains did not come, so I pulled out the kite and Dexter was able to fly it over the train tracks without getting it stuck on the fence. He has figured out how to pull on the string to keep it flying, and the amount of joy he gets from it is exceeded only by watching the trains themselves, or perhaps by swimming and playing at a splash pad, so the good times will continue, and perhaps increase this spring and summer!

Dexter at play

I remember making my first animated gif back in the last century, a little car that zoomed across the CARR homepage. Now they are all the rage…and yes they are fun. I have these hosted on the site Giphy, which allows me to post them on Facebook which does not properly display them otherwise.

Talking Parsel tongue…

At the Garden

Kendama with Grandma

At Griffy with Elsa

Ice cream bar!

Riding bikes with Charlie

Carhartts make winter fun!

Checking out Lil’ Bub on his new shirt

Mushroom foraging on most public land is legal – Indiana

HTO LIVE DISCUSSIONS
HT Online
July 8, 2014

IMG_9170

QUESTION: Good morning, and welcome to this morning’s chat with DNR conservation officer, Angela Goldman. Angela, thanks so much for joining us again here in the newsroom.

QUESTION: I’ve heard there are new rules concerning foraging for mushrooms off-trail on state property. Could you elaborate on your understanding of off-trail foraging?
Mitch Rice, Bloomington

ANGELA GOLDMAN: It is legal to hunt mushrooms on all state owned lands. This includes state parks, state forests, state fish & wildlife areas, and state recreational areas. The only restrictions are in nature preserves. You are allowed to hunt mushrooms if the nature preserve is a part of a state forest, state park, etc. If it is a standalone property, then the nature preserve makes their own rules.

It is legal to hunt mushrooms on any property in the Hoosier National Forest, as long as they are for personal use. Harvesting for commercial purposes is not allowed. Hunting in local city parks is up to that individual community parks department.

The new rule change simply clarifies that a person MAY go off the trail on state properties to hunt mushrooms. Most mushroom hunters never realized this was in question so it should not affect many
people. Just remember if you are going off trail to be aware of where you are, stay on property you have permission to be on, and carry a GPS with the location of your vehicle marked. Every year Conservation Officers are called out to find mushroom hunters who have lost their way.

Raptors at Bryan Hall?

No, not exactly, but a pair of Cooper’s Hawks have been nesting in Dunn Woods since I first noticed them in 2008. Their nests are easy to distinguish from that of the numerous squirrels in the woods, always very high, and made of sticks and stems rather than leaves. The latest one is in a large tree close to Bryan Hall, they have been observed by workers on the third floor, just a hundred feet or so from the east facing windows.

As you may now, Bloomington has had a winter influx of crows over the last few years, and they roost at night in large groups numbering in the hundreds. At dusk you can see them flying together to one of their favorite spots on the west side, at the courthouse, in Elm Heights and in Dunn Woods. Here they are at my house on a cold February evening.

So the city, and IU, have found a way to keep the crows away. Downtown on the square, at Bryan Hall, and at Morrison Hall, as evening comes on, squawks and calls from a variety of raptors are broadcast to the night skies. This seems to push the crows to another roosting spot (like Elm Heights), and thus keep the crow dropping off the parking meters on the square, and footpaths in Dunn Woods. But the giant murders of crows stop roosting in town as soon as the weather gets warm, apparently they have better things to do and places to be.

But IU keeps the recordings going through March and April (and maybe longer). This seems like overkill, and may well have kept the Cooper’s Hawks from nesting. At the very least it is keeping the mammals and smaller birds in on edge through sunset and dusk. I am wondering who to ask about having the recordings turned off now that the weather is warm and there is no need for the (disconcerting and annoying) recordings?

Bikes on the B-Line

There have been a number of letters to the editor lately concerning bikes on the B-Line, and truth to tell, it is a difficult set of laws that must be perused to fully understand the proper procedures.

This where most of the confusion exists:

TRUE or FALSE
Bikes must stop/yield at the B-Line crossings.

TRUE! There are Stop signs as each crossing, and text that declares “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop”. These signs are for bikers only, but some people do not see them, or ignore them. Many bikers seem to think they are pedestrians, but they are not. In fact they are vehicles according to state law (IC 9-21-11-2) On the B-Line confusion seems to be that many people believe that motor vehicles should stop for both pedestrians and bikes when on the trail, but this is just not case in Indiana. If a pedestrian is on a curb at an intersection, then “…a person who drives a vehicle shall yield the right­ of­ way, slowing down or stopping if necessary to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching closely from the opposite half of the roadway. (IC 9-­2-1­8-­36)”

This sentence contains a lot of info. It may seem a bit strange, but motor vehicle operators are required to slow down or stop only once a person has stepped into a crosswalk on the side of the street on which the car is traveling. Once you closely approach the other half of the street (this is not an exact distance in this code), then cars are required to yield or stop. This not true for bikers, unless they dismount and walk their bikes across the street, as then they are pedestrians.

On the B-Line, I most often see cars stopping for pedestrians and bikers who are waiting to cross. This is great, Hoosier Hospitality at its best! However, it is not required by law unless the pedestrian has entered the crosswalk, so there is no reason to become annoyed or angry that people are not stopping for you. Better to take a deep breath and enjoy the beauty of life in the open air, and pity those stuck in their iron cages.

Bikers are not pedestrians, they are considered non-motorized vehicles, and should stop at the B-line crossings, and wait for traffic to clear. Even if you poke your wheel into the street, hoping the cars will stop, you could be cited for obstructing traffic, and if you were hit, you would be at fault.

Even pedestrians must be careful about stepping out into the street: “A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. (IC 9-21-17-5)

So pedestrians should not jump in front of moving motor vehicles! This seems rather self evident, but this codifies the concept. If you do this, the police can (and have in the past), follow the ambulance to the hospital, and issue you a citation.

All this being true, there is still this requirement for vehicle drivers:
http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title9/ar21/ch8.html

Sec. 37. Notwithstanding other provisions of this article or a local ordinance, a person who drives a vehicle shall do the following:

  1. Exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or a person propelling a human powered vehicle, giving an audible signal when necessary.
  2. Exercise proper caution upon observing a child or an obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person.

Traffic control signals not in operation

So according to state law, cars do not have to stop for pedestrians unless they are in the crosswalk. This is not the case in all states, but it is here in Indiana, as well as Vermont and Florida. So it is polite to stop your car for pedestrians at the B-Line crossings, but it is not mandatory, it is not law.


Roadways; rights and duties (for bicyclists)
Sec. 2. A person riding a bicycle or operating a Class B motor driven cycle upon a roadway has all the rights and duties under this article that are applicable to a person who drives a vehicle…

On the B-Line, there are stop signs not on the roadway, but on the B-Line itself, and these are meant not for the pedestrians, but rather for the bikers. The signs on the road read “Cars must yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk”, the functional important parts being “pedestrians” “yield”, and “in the crosswalk”, (not on the sidewalk).

To say the least, this is not clear to most users, but it is the case. If you were to ride out into the intersection without first stopping (blow through the crossing) and get hit, you would be cited for the infraction, not the motorist, even if they had time to stop. Unfortunately that is the law, and the tradition; police often see themselves as the guardians of vehicular traffic, and like many motorists, can see pedestrians and bikers as impediments to motorized traffic, rather than seeing them as traffic itself. Of course we are all traffic, people trying to get from one place to another, but the culture is currently weighted to favor motorists. We are trying to change this balance, and in fact Bloomington has one of the highest percentage of non-motorized commuters in the US, nearly 5%.

Be careful out there!

http://bloomington.in.gov/documents/viewDocument.php?document_id=6503

https://bloomington.in.gov/bike

First spring ephemerals in Dunn Woods, 2016

IMG_9843

The first spring wildflowers poked up their heads in Dunn Woods during the week of February 22. There are several bunches of snow drops, aka Galanthus, often the first wild flowers to appear this year. I will be finding salt and pepper (harbinger of spring, Erigenia bulbosa) in the deeper woods soon! Below is a link to Kay Yatskievych‘s Flower Finder for Indiana Spring Wildflowers, the single best resource I have found for indenitying Indiana’s emphemerals. Happy hunting!

Spring wildflowers Indiana