Categories
Btown Biking E-Bikes

Scenic Valleys Loop

After a couple of years mostly town riding, Jojo (& Charlie) and I went out for one of the finest loop rides in Monroe county. This route tours our three large valleys on the eastside, Kerr Creek, Getty’s Creek, and Brummett’s Creek Roads. Our map is below, 90% of the ride was through quiet countryside, with several miles on ridgetop, but mostly through the valleys. Our total distance was over 23 miles, as we took a 2 mile out and back to the Campbell preserve on Upper Birdie Galyon.

Gettys-Brummetts loop
Gettys-Brummetts loop

Over the past 15 years, Jojo, Charlie, and I have ridden on nearly every road in Monroe and Lawrence counties, but lately (due to health and age issues), we have not been riding as in the past. Instead we have been enjoying the city’s growing bike infrastructure and trails. But we missed those long treks through the county…

So now with the use of our Zephyr E-bikes, we are back on track with longer rides! I rode my purple Rans recumbent (which we outfitted a 500Watt front wheel motor), while Jojo/Charlie rode my RadWagon cargo bike that I have been using the past few years.

Brummett's Creek Flood Ride
Purple Rans Stratus

About 90% of the ride was on the nearly empty country roads that crisscross eastern Monroe county. Here is the list of roads in order:

  • Kerr Creek – 3 miles of country homes along the limestone creek
  • Getty’s Creek – a quick climb over to SR 46, and a quick dash to:
  • Birdie Gaylon/Fleenor/Hash – The hill up Lower Birdie Galyon is really steep, but our electric assist made it easy. Right on Fleenor, best to have a hand on the brakes descending to Hash Road, then right to Brummett’s Creek Rd.
  • Brummett’s Creek – 3.5 miles of beautiful valley riding – farm fields surrounded by green ridges of state forest
  • Mt. Giliad-Upper Birdie Gaylon-Mt. Giliad. Several miles of ridge riding. Upper Birdie Galyon goes well into the forest, ending at Sycamore Land Trust’s Campbell preserve, well worth the extra 2 miles
  • Getty’s Creek – Just beautifull as Brummett’s, Getty’s Creek Rd runs for a mile less along Stephens Creek (and meets Mt. Gilead Rd at the confluence of Getty’s Creek and Stephens Creek.)
  • Kerr Creek – Back up Kerr Creek, usually the hill at the end is a killer when coming home, but this time we were exhilarated rather than exhausted.
Charlie Bird visits Campbell preserve
Charlie Bird visits Campbell Preserve

We met a local biker riding the same Getty’s/Brummett’s loop we were on who was riding this Magnum Metro. The owner was very pleased with the bike, so I looked up the brand back at the shop, they are priced mid-range ($1600-$2800), so a pretty decent value…except they are out of stock of all models! They do have $1000 scooters in stock…

Magnum City E-Bike
Magnum City E-Bike

Charlie Bird loves nothing better than stretching his wings will riding up Brummett’s Creek Rd.

Charlie enjoying the breeze.

CORN! Well over knee high well before Fourth of July! I am thinking it has been growing in these valleys for thousands of years.

Corn fields
Corn along Getty’s Creek
Categories
Btown Biking Winter Riding & Ice Biking

Ice biking on Griffy Lake, January 2015

This year was the best year in a decade for ice biking (and skating) on Lake Griffy.

The ice was 4 inches thick, and completely clear and slick. There was a deep freeze, and no snow, sleet, or rain had marred the surface, so it was perfectly smooth. So how does a bike work on smooth clear ice? Perfectly well, thank-you! There are several tricks to biking, and staying on your bike, on ice. First, do not push hard on the pedals! That will cause slipping for sure. Start slow, and keep adding just a small amount of power to your spin till you are going at a reasonable speed, which on ice is usually less than 10 mph. Second, don’t turn quickly, your front tire will slip, and down you will go. Third, be very careful when braking, in fact the best policy is to leave them alone; don’t put yourself in a situation where they are needed, and you will be fine.

About tires: Nothing special is needed, though I assume having studs would give you the ability to move faster as you would have better traction. But this is has not been necessary for me. A couple years ago I had slicks on front and back, and they worked great! More contact with the ice gave me better traction. This is not true for snow, where having tread really helps gain traction. Snow riding is a bit harder than ice riding, but just as much fun, there is no doubt.

After a week or so, a light snow covered the surface of the ice. I could not tell if it was more or less slippery than clear ice, I think it was a combination of factors each way so that it was a draw, though it was just a little harder to pedal.

The snow it did not slow down the intrepid skaters Michael and Jenny, who explored the deep end of the lake with me.

Categories
Btown Biking Winter Riding & Ice Biking

Solo Ice Ride

Dec. 2010

This was a long and cold winter, and I got in only a few good rides this year. My biggest was a 6 hour tour of Lake Monroe that included Moore’s Creek Bay, the causeway, Back Creek and Potter’s Cave, and finally to Axom Branch, where the stone cabin ruins are to be found. On the way back, just rounding the corner opposite Rush Ridge, I went through the ice where a spring had thinned the 6 inches of ice.

Fortunately, I was riding my long wheel base recumbent, and only the front wheel went in. I was up to my armpits in the water, but it was easy to roll off onto the ice. I watched a second and realized it was wedged in, but would soon enough sink, so I grabbed the handle bars and pulled back and up but it was stuck.

I realized I should not put extra weight near the hole, but there was little I could do about that. I pushed a little to free it, then pulled back and the bike came out. I stood around for about ten minutes, drying my Iphone and waiting to see if I was going to go into shock or get really cold.

But neither of these things happened. So I got back on the bike, and moved closer to shore where I knew the water was not deep, and made my way back about a mile to Pine Grove. Climbing the hill back to 446 warmed me up, and I only noticed the cold in my feet as I rode the 9 miles back home.

Categories
Bike Safety Btown Biking

US DOT Bike-Ped Guidelines

Ray LaHood, the new Secretary of Transportation, released these new guidelines, really remarkable stuff. It’s hard for me to believe he and I are on the same page in regards to this new policy, but tis true.

United States Department of Transportation
Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation
Regulations and Recommendations
Signed on March 11, 2010 and announced March 15, 2010

Note: Also available on the United States Department of Transportation Website

Purpose

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) is providing this Policy Statement to reflect the Department’s support for the development of fully integrated active transportation networks. The establishment of well-connected walking and bicycling networks is an important component for livable communities, and their design should be a part of Federal-aid project developments. Walking and bicycling foster safer, more livable, family-friendly communities; promote physical activity and health; and reduce vehicle emissions and fuel use. Legislation and regulations exist that require inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian policies and projects into transportation plans and project development.

Accordingly, transportation agencies should plan, fund, and implement improvements to their walking and bicycling networks, including linkages to transit. In addition, DOT encourages transportation agencies to go beyond the minimum requirements, and proactively provide convenient, safe, and context-sensitive facilities that foster increased use by bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities, and utilize universal design characteristics when appropriate.

Transportation programs and facilities should accommodate people of all ages and abilities, including people too young to drive, people who cannot drive, and people who choose not to drive.

Policy Statement

The DOT policy is to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems. Because of the numerous individual and community benefits that walking and bicycling provide — including health, safety, environmental, transportation, and quality of life — transportation agencies are encouraged to go beyond minimum standards to provide safe and convenient facilities for these modes.

Authority

This policy is based on various sections in the United States Code (U.S.C.) and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in Title 23—Highways, Title 49—Transportation, and Title 42—The Public Health and Welfare. These sections, provided in the Appendix, describe how bicyclists and pedestrians of all abilities should be involved throughout the planning process, should not be adversely affected by other transportation projects, and should be able to track annual obligations and expenditures on nonmotorized transportation facilities.

Recommended Actions

The DOT encourages States, local governments, professional associations, community organizations, public transportation agencies, and other government agencies, to adopt similar policy statements on bicycle and pedestrian accommodation as an indication of their commitment to accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians as an integral element of the transportation system. In support of this commitment, transportation agencies and local communities should go beyond minimum design standards and requirements to create safe, attractive, sustainable, accessible, and convenient bicycling and walking networks. Such actions should include:

  • Considering walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes: The primary goal of a transportation system is to safely and efficiently move people and goods. Walking and bicycling are efficient transportation modes for most short trips and, where convenient intermodal systems exist, these nonmotorized trips can easily be linked with transit to significantly increase trip distance. Because of the benefits they provide, transportation agencies should give the same priority to walking and bicycling as is given to other transportation modes. Walking and bicycling should not be an afterthought in roadway design.
  • Ensuring that there are transportation choices for people of all ages and abilities, especially children: Pedestrian and bicycle facilities should meet accessibility requirements and provide safe, convenient, and interconnected transportation networks. For example, children should have safe and convenient options for walking or bicycling to school and parks. People who cannot or prefer not to drive should have safe and efficient transportation choices.
  • Going beyond minimum design standards: Transportation agencies are encouraged, when possible, to avoid designing walking and bicycling facilities to the minimum standards. For example, shared-use paths that have been designed to minimum width requirements will need retrofits as more people use them. It is more effective to plan for increased usage than to retrofit an older facility.
  • Planning projects for the long-term should anticipate likely future demand for bicycling and walking facilities and not preclude the provision of future improvements.
  • Integrating bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on new, rehabilitated, and limited-access bridges: DOT encourages bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on bridge projects including facilities on limited-access bridges with connections to streets or paths.
  • Collecting data on walking and biking trips: The best way to improve transportation networks for any mode is to collect and analyze trip data to optimize investments. Walking and bicycling trip data for many communities are lacking. This data gap can be overcome by establishing routine collection of nonmotorized trip information. Communities that routinely collect walking and bicycling data are able to track trends and prioritize investments to ensure the success of new facilities. These data are also valuable in linking walking and bicycling with transit.
  • Setting mode share targets for walking and bicycling and tracking them over time: A byproduct of improved data collection is that communities can establish targets for increasing the percentage of trips made by walking and bicycling.
  • Removing snow from sidewalks and shared-use paths: Current maintenance provisions require pedestrian facilities built with Federal funds to be maintained in the same manner as other roadway assets. State Agencies have generally established levels of service on various routes especially as related to snow and ice events.
  • Improving nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects: Many transportation agencies spend most of their transportation funding on maintenance rather than on constructing new facilities. Transportation agencies should find ways to make facility improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists during resurfacing and other maintenance projects.

Conclusion

Increased commitment to and investment in bicycle facilities and walking networks can help meet goals for cleaner, healthier air; less congested roadways; and more livable, safe, cost-efficient communities. Walking and bicycling provide low-cost mobility options that place fewer demands on local roads and highways. DOT recognizes that safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities may look different depending on the context — appropriate facilities in a rural community may be different from a dense, urban area. However, regardless of regional, climate, and population density differences, it is important that pedestrian and bicycle facilities be integrated into transportation systems. While DOT leads the effort to provide safe and convenient accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists, success will ultimately depend on transportation agencies across the country embracing and implementing this policy.

Ray LaHood, United States Secretary of Transportation

Categories
Btown Biking

Barr & Delap Road Waterfalls

    

I love waterfalls, and take pictures of them when I find them on my rides. Northeast of Bloomington, Bean Blossom creek flows north to northwest until it flows into the West Fork of the White River. One Sunday, Jojo and rode along Bottom Road. Its about five miles of “flat” riding up to the intersection of Woodall Road. Woodland Road heads west off of Woodall, and rises out of the valley, and which intersects Barr Road. We took that back east, and it dropped into the valley, where to our suprise we found a dry waterfall with a large pool. It was quite interesting how the water was totally contained by large rocks, even though it was dry uphill and downhill from the site. My camera had a finger smudge, so my pictures aren’t that great, but I posted them anyhow.

We rode on Delap Road, which runs west and north along the ridge for a while, offering some great views of the Bean Blossom valley. We passed a farm with peacocks and llamas, very scenic in the early evening sunlight. Where Delap drops into the valley we found a cascade/waterfall, probably spring fed, as it was running strong, and had good growth of stream moss. We stopped to explore, and found that there were two parts, dropping about 15 feet total. This video should give you an idea of what if was like:

Delap Waterfall

Categories
Bike Safety Btown Biking

Bike safety interview on WTTS




Here is an interview I did on WTTS about bike safety issues in Bloomington. They asked me as a member of the Bloomington Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission, but I did not speak officially for the group, but for myself as a concerned biker/ped.

I know I sound like Oscar the Grouch, but just today another pedestrian was killed while crossing the street, it was reported his shoes flew 40 feet. We just can’t keep giving cars the best parts of our lives, the streets should belong to the people, not the oil/gas/car/truck subculture.

Categories
Btown Biking

Tandem Ride along Lake Michigan

Eileen and I vacationed in Chicago in August, and on the first day we rented a tandem bike at Millennial Park, and started riding north. We found the path a bit crowded, but everyone seems to get along fine, no crashes. We passed the volleyball courts, and rode out on a pier. I got my feet wet, and we gazed at the water.

From Chicago/Prairie Vacation '09
From Chicago/Prairie Vacation '09
From Chicago/Prairie Vacation '09

We rode west at Diversy, and toured the lagoon north of Lincoln Park zoo, then entered and bikes around the animal houses.

From Chicago/Prairie Vacation '09

We followed the zoo parking lot south, then walked over the ped bridge over Lakeshore Drive. It had no screens around it, and in fact there were flowers all the way across.

From Chicago/Prairie Vacation '09

We move back down the lake path to the Chicago River, then rode across the bridge, which is quite a scene, bikes, skaters, peds, and cars all sharing the space. We got back within our 2 hour rental time even though we goofed around a bunch at the lagoon and zoo.

From Chicago/Prairie Vacation '09

We stopped at the band-shell and listened to a rehearsal for a bit, then got on the train and headed back to Schaumburg and the prairie.

Categories
Btown Biking

Morgan-Monroe Spring Ride

Yellow Lady Slipper

After our great Virginia bluebell find last week, I was anxious to get to the Morgan-Monroe forest, where in years previous I’ve found the rare yellow lady-slipper. It was Sunday morning and we figured the highway would be pretty empty, so we headed out 10th St., and rode SR. 45 straight out to Tunnel Road, which we took to Shilo Rd, less than an hour of steady riding.

 

Shilo Rd. was repaved last year, and is still in great shape, a fine 3 mile ridgetop ride in the forest. We stopped for a break at Rust Rd., and has luck would have it Jason and Aaron Breeden came down the road, stopped and chatted for a few minutes. Jojo and I rode on to where Shilo ends on Anderson Rd., which we took over to Bean Blossom Rd. This road runs up the valley and then ascends nearly 300 feet over to the ridge which divides the White River from the Bean Blossom Valley.

After climbing the first long incline, there is a level stretch of ridge that drop steeply on each side. Right where we found them 2 years ago were the same 2 clusters of the elusive Yellow Lady Slipper. I took some pictures, they are here. We climbed to the top, and headed west on Forest Road, and to our surprise we saw several other clusters of Lady Slipper on the north side of the road.

As we rolled along enjoying the crisp green, forest air, we came on a clear-cut right along the roadside, with a sign that just flabbergasted me, I can’t believe they are so ignorant!

We rode Old 37 back to town, coming in through Cascades Park, about a 30 mile loop, really satisfying with just 2 big climbs, Bean Blossom and Firehouse hills. The weather was perfect, and the ephemeral wildflowers were at their peak.

From Mitch’s Bike Maps
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Categories
Btown Biking

Toughest Hoosier Hills?

[Updated Sept 5]

I’ve been using Google Earth for the last year to line out new rides, and by measuring the distance and elevations of the various hills, I’ve come up with Mitch’s Hill Toughness Quotient (MHTQ). The formula is simple, I divide the rise in elevation feet by the distance in miles, this is essentially a steepness quotient. The climbs I have here are all over .2 miles, and the rises from 138-318 ft. I’ve included both paved and gravel roads. Gravel is harder to climb, but I am not sure by what factor. For me, some are impossible, my back wheel starts to spin out, even with a bunch of weight in my pannier.

These numbers are a steepness quotient, and other factors must be considered in saying how hard a hill is to climb. Consider Brummett’s Creek Rd., which has a high number at 608 over 1/4 of mile, while everyone would agree that Bear Wallow Hill Rd. (424 MHTQ), which rises 324 feet in 3/4 mile really is a bear. More climbing, more distance, more work. So in some cases rising steeply for a short distance may be easier that a long climb.

I have been updating this list, and as of now Brummett’s Creek and Mt. Gilead (east) hills have risen to the top of the paved list (discounting Miller and Boltinghouse, which are still far and away the toughest paved hills).

THE TOP FIVE TOUGHEST HOOSIER HILLS

#1 McGOWEN ROAD

No way around it, this gravel hill leading to Gilmore Ridge is the toughest Hoosier Hill I’ve been on. Just southeast of Pine Grove on Lake Monroe, McGowen (aka Rogers) Road rises a whopping 250 feet over just .27 miles, giving it the top score of 926 MHTQ. I’ve since figured out that it is much easier to go up TC Steele Road and down McGowen Road rather than up!

605 to 855 feet
250 ft rise
.27 mile
250/.27=926 MHTQ

From Crooked Creek_McGowen Ride

Second and third place (by the numbers) go to Miller and Boltinghouse Roads. Boltinghouse has had the reputation as the toughest paved hill, but I have checked my numbers thrice, and Miller is the winner by a nose.

#2 Miller Road
616-820 feet
204 ft. rise
.27 mile
204/.27=775 MHTQ

#3 Boltinghouse Road
629 to 820 feet
191 foot rise
.25 mile
191/.25=764 MHTQ

Number four is Earl Young Rd, and being gravel, it may harder than either Miller or Boltinghouse. I haven’t put a number on gravel vs. paved, but my guess would be about 100 points. If you have experience on these roads what do you think? Is Earl Young tougher than Miller or Boltinghouse?

#4 Earl Young Rd
694 to 874, 180 ft rise
.27 mile
180/.27= 666 MHTQ

Number five is in Brown county, Indian Hill Road off of SR 45. This may also be tougher than Miller/Boltinghouse, as it is gravel, longer, and higher than the other top 5, and so although it is a few points lower than Brummett’s Creek, it rates #5.

#5 Indian Hill Rd.
640 to 876, 236 feet rise
.39 mi.
236/.39= 605 MHTQ

Below is a listing of some well know hills, I’ve climbed them all on my recumbent at one time or another, and wanted to know where they were in the scale. I placed them in order, with Brummett’s Creek at the top, and to my surprise, Firehouse Hill at the bottom. (It seems tougher than it is as it is so often the last big hill of the day.) If you have any hills that should be on this list, let me know.

Brummett’s Creek Rd.
770-630=140 ft rise
.23 miles
140/.23=608

Mt. Gilead Road (West)
836- 630=206 ft rise
.39 mi
206/.39=528.2

Schwartz Ridge Road
715-577=138
.25 mi.
138/.25=522

Bean Blossom Road (the first main climb)
630-820 190 feet
.39 mi.
190/.37=487

Mt. Gilead-(East)
803-660=143 ft rise
.29 miles
143/.29=493

Bear Creek Hill (Gravel)
738-907 169 rise
.35 mi
169/.35=483

TC Steele Road
560-860=200 feet
.42 mi.
200/.42= 472

Crooked Creek (Gravel)
595-860, 265 ft rise
.6 mi
265/.6=441

Bear Wallow Hill
692-1010, 318 ft rise
.75 mi
318/.75=424

Old Meyers Road
610-790, 180 ft
.46 mi
180/.46=391

SR 446 North of causeway
560 to 728, 168 rise
.44 mi.
168/.44=382

Lampkins Ridge
565 to 705, 150 foot rise
.4 mi.
150/.4=375

Paynetown Road
540 to 728, 188 ft rise
.52 mi
188/.52=361

SR 446 south of the causeway
560-750, 190 ft rise
.56 mi.
190/.56=340

Firehouse Hill
601 to 791, 190 ft rise
.65 miles
190/.65=262

Bean Blossom Hill (the full climb)
630 to 923=293 ft rise
1.29 miles
293/1.29=227 MHTQ

Categories
Btown Biking

Kerr Creek-Brummett’s Creek Loop

When I first started taking longer rides in the country, I worked out several loops that I could do before work at 10 am. One of my favorites was the 23.6 mile loop that included 3 miles in the Kerr Creek valley, and 3 miles along Brummett’s Creek.

Jojo and I were starting late on Saturday, and wanted some good long miles in the country, and so took the Grimshaw Trail towards 446, and then sped down SR 46. Fortunately the highway has a couple of feet outside the lines, making the stretch less stressful than it could be. A bunch of jerks leaned out their window, honking and yelling at us, but that can happen anywhere. Some cars drivers appear to be antagonistic to bike riders, are they somehow threatened by the athletic prowess of 2 graybeards?

Kerr Creek was repaved last year and is now smooth and quick, the hill can be done with no brakes. It runs eastward to Getty’s Creek Rd. Getty’s Creek runs up over the shoulder of the ridge, offering a great view of the valley, before ending at SR 46. It is just a short hop on highway 46 to Birdie Galyon road.

Birdie Galyon rises steeply through a beautiful dark valley, and then connects to Fleener Rd and back down the hill, brakes are required as there is a steep curve at the bottom. Fleener Rd. tees onto Hash Rd., which then runs up to Brummett’s Creek.

From here Brummett’s runs through 3 miles of scenic farm country before climbing to the ridge for another mile and a half of ridgetop riding, till it ends at SR 45. Last year at this time, Lake Monroe was near capacity, and the valley was flooded and filled with herons and ducks, rather than corn and soybeans. We crossed the creek and found the Valley of the Bluebells, what an amazing sight/site! We found a colony of these last year along Woodland Road, this year’s find was massively larger.

Once we reached SR 45, we decided to take it all the way back to town, which can be harrowing at times. If you don’t mind adding half a mile, Mt. Gilead is much more pleasant to ride, but we were tired, and Mt. Gilead is a bear to climb

I’ve been plotting hill climbs via MHTQ (Mitch’s Hill Toughness Quotient), and Mt. Gilead is at 582 MHTQ, beating all the paved roads I’ve measured except the undisputed champions, Miller (775 MHTQ), Boltinghouse (764 MHTQ) Roads, and (in a different class) Brummett’s Creek (608 MHTQ), which we had just climbed.

All gravel McGowan Road is still the champion at 926 MHTQ. It only took one climb to make me realize it is considerably easier to go down McGowan than it is to go up!).

From Mitch’s Bike Maps