Saturday, October 27, 2012

Clear Fork Loop 4

This morning at breakfast I looked out the window and noticed the patio was dry so decided to go for a recumbent ride.  The sky was gray and a chilly wind was blowing from the north and the temperature registered about 47 degrees on my computer. That's ideal riding conditions really and as long as it's not raining being on the bike beats sitting on the couch any day.
I've had a busy week. I'm about three weeks into my winter workout regime.  The shock of hitting the weights has abated and I'm not feeling too sore from that.  Tuesday I worked chest and 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. Wednesday I took a down day and then was back at it Thursday with an arm workout and 30 minutes again on the elliptical.  Last night was shoulders followed up with another half hour on the cardio machine.  I've done a couple leg workouts but I don't worry too much about legs now that it's still warm enough to ride my bike.  In a few months when everything is frozen I'll add leg exercises to the resistance training and increase the duration on the elliptical.
Increasing my activity level has left me feeling great so I decided to ride the Clear Fork Loop for the extra workout the hills provide in the middle third of the route.  I didn't take a lot of pictures on this ride because of the overcast sky and the dreary look of the landscape. Besides I've already documented this route several times here and most recently here.

The majority of this loop is the east-west directions which minimizes the the strong north breeze to a manageable crosswind.  To mix things up I decided to run the loop counter-clockwise opposite of the last time I rode and I was surprised to notice this old brick schoolhouse.  It's funny I've been riding this road for 15 years and I never noticed the school house. Granted I've not been actively seeking them out until recently.
As with many of the old school buildings I found this one is in a similar sad state of disrepair.  I don't know what happened to the back corner but the bricks are completely gone.

The school house lies in North Bloomfield Township in the north-east corner of Morrow County.  The architecture is more spartan than most of the buildings I've documented.  Notice there is no round window above the door or decorative plaque with the district number and date of establishment.  It could be that this school is older than the others in the area built before the engraved date plaques became a standard feature.  Hard to tell and I'm just speculating.  In any case I would feel confident dating the structure to the late 1800's.

Another notable feature of this one is the original doorway.  Many schoolhouses were turned into storage buildings once retired and the subsequent owners knocked out a bigger hole and installed sliding shed doors.


Readers have commented how picturesque and peaceful the places I ride look and for the most part they are.  Even so from time to time I have to deal with that scourge of the road going cyclist: Asshole drivers. They're everywhere and if you spend enough time on two wheels eventually you will run into them. 

The eastern leg of the loop descends into the Clear Fork Valley then climbs up the other side. This climb nearly two miles long is unfortunately part a well used route between two cities.  The route is a simple county road with one lane for each direction. There is no shoulder and not enough room for a car and bike to occupy the same lane.  For me on the bike it's the most stressful part of an otherwise great ride. 

Today I was irritated twice in less than half a mile.  I had begun the climb and was only 500 feet or so up the road already dropped to the granny gears and was chugging up the hill at around 6 or 7 mph.  the road twists and turns so I keep a constant watch behind me in the helmet mirror.  Soon filling up my mirror is the grill of an older red full size Chevy truck.  Oncoming traffic held him back for a few seconds until it was clear to pass then the asshat floored the accelerator; half burnt hydrocarbons and oily blue smoke spewing out and hanging heavy in the air for my enjoyment.  What an idiot! Gasoline nearly four dollars a gallon this yahoo guns his V8 up the road probably burning a quart in the process. I'm sure the guy would argue that the acceleration was warranted to get safely around me and back over into the lane as quickly as possible but I say bollocks! A full on 300 horsepower hole shot is not required to overtake a bicycle traveling at a blistering 5 mph.

Sixty seconds later still cranking up the hill I'm watching a sedan's steady approach from the rear in my mirror.  Up ahead is a small SUV closing and I can tell we are all going to intersect at about the same time.  Sure enough the sedan barely slows and edges out about a foot over the center line.  This action in turn forces the SUV driver to edge his vehicle as far to the right of his lane as possible.  In the distance behind me I hear the long blast of the SUV's horn conveying the driver's irritation over the situation.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves. 

It took me two minutes to look up the violation in the Ohio Revised Code:

(A) No vehicle or trackless trolley shall be driven to the left of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing traffic proceeding in the same direction, unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made, without interfering with the safe operation of any traffic approaching from the opposite direction or any traffic overtaken. In every event the overtaking vehicle or trackless trolley must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and in the event the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for traffic approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within two hundred feet of any approaching vehicle.
Of course if your a cyclist all of this is old hat but if you're a car driver exclusively and for some strange reason you're reading this blog go up and read the excerpt from the law book again and remember to slow down for us bike riders.
Later in the ride I have to make a short jog of about an eighth mile on a busy state route to connect back up with rural county road.  This stretch of highway doesn't twist and turn but it is very hilly.  As usual I'm grinding uphill in my lower gears and watching behind in the mirror.  At least the state route has a shoulder a couple feet wide and a white stripe but I always stay right around the stripe regardless of what is going on.  A small black SUV closes on me but slows down matching my speed. Traveling uphill as we were it was impossible to see oncoming traffic ahead.  In just a few seconds we crested the rise and like clockwork there was a car coming at us in the opposite lane.  After the other car passed the SUV pulled out and began his pass.  As the driver came around I gave him a wave with my left hand as a sign of thanks for holding on a second. Once safely back in the lane I heard a quick and happy toot-toot of the SUV's horn.  This little episode made me feel better and proves that cars and bikes can get along.
In any event I made it home safe with another great ride in the log book and I even dropped 6 minutes off the loop time from earlier in the year.
Clear Fork Loop
Bike: HP Velotechnik Street Machine
Ride Time:  2:14:07
Distance:  28.84 miles
Average Speed:  12.8 mph
Max Speed:  44 mph


  1. Ah, school houses. I've always liked them and want to buy them (with all my extra cash) when I see them.

    Looked like a nice ride... hearing about your exercise regimen is making me jealous/envious/ashamed .

  2. Having topped a speed of 28 mph once down a steep hill, those 44 mph runs makes me feel a little unsettled....I know you've moved much faster. You've got guts! Have fun Mike!

  3. Inspirational I'm about take a 46 mile trip hope to post some interesting photos and squeeze in an outdoor workout as well.