Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Mount Gilead / South Shore loop, and a little rain

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Last night I decided to try a new route. None of the roads were new to me, but I hadn’t ridden them in this particular configuration before. I liked it, and it serves as a reminder to try some slight variations in my routes more often. This route came to just over 26 miles, a pretty good length for a post-work ride and a bit longer than my Water Works and Shilo routes. View the route on Bikely.

There were scattered storms in the forecast, but I checked the radar before I left and it looked clear. Just a few specks of activity to the south. There were some rather dark clouds outside, so I wondered if I was going to get rained on, but I figured I could always turn back sooner if things got ugly. As I rode toward Mount Gilead on 45, I was passed by a car I recognized — it was Dave, my mountain biking buddy. I waved, and he waved back. His dog was in the car with him, sticking her head out the window (as usual).

I turned on Mount Gilead Road and it started sprinkling a bit. The road was speckled with drops of water, but I didn’t get too wet — Mount Gilead is lined with trees, which make for excellent shade if it’s sunny, and a little protection from a light rain. The rainy vibe to this whole ride was great. There’s something about cloudy, threatening conditions and a light, warm rain that I really enjoy sometimes. It feels different from riding on a sunny day, and I tend not to see very many other people on the road, making me feel more of a sense of connection to this land. I see it in all seasons, in all conditions, and in this case I was just about the only person out there.

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Mount Gilead Road

I made the long descent into the valley, going very slowly since the road was a bit slick. When I reached the bottom, there was steam rising from the road and some fog in the field. It was really cool to see the steam coming off the pavement, although it was so humid my glasses fogged up. It was still raining and I did get a bit wet, but it was warm and felt good.

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Steam rises off the pavement and the cornfield

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Riding in the rain

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Corn

I made the climb back out of the valley, taking my time and trying to keep my wheel from spinning out due to the steep, wet surface. There were some amazing clouds that I could see once I reached the top. Shortly thereafter, it stopped raining.

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Awesome clouds

When I reached 45, I debated whether I should turn back. The clouds I could see didn’t look too bad, and the more foreboding ones were still to the south. I decided to keep riding. There was astoundingly little traffic. This portion of 45 doesn’t normally have a lot of cars, but I think I went 15 minutes without seeing a car. I did, however, see a wild turkey alongside the road. I tried to get a photo, but it ran off into the woods. It was an uneventful and very pleasant ride along 45. This stretch is very curvy and has some climbing and a lot of descending. Again I kept my speed down as the roads were still wet.

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State Road 45

I turned on South Shore Drive and rode toward Lake Lemon. I picked up some good speed on the hill from the highway. This one is straight so I was able to let loose a little more, hitting 36 mph. Not insanely fast, but it felt good, and I maintained a speed above 30 mph for a few minutes on the flat ground.

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South Shore Drive

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Trees and a barn

I reached the causeway and really enjoyed riding across the lake. I always do, but there was something magical about the way the sun burned orange but interacted with the clouds, bursts of pink and purple permeating the sky and being softened by the clouds.

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Reaching the causeway

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Land and water on my left

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More water on my right

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Looking across the lake

After crossing the lake, I had to a big climb to contend with. I’ve done this climb many times before, but not much this year. It was harder than I was hoping. It doesn’t help that I have had some interruptions to my riding this year and my weight is up and I feel a bit out of shape. I struggled with this climb more than I like, but I made it up anyway. And I certainly got a good workout in the process.

Tunnel Road was scenic as always and I continued admiring the sunlight. It was rather cool outside, a pleasant change from the heat we had for a while.

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Field on Tunnel Road

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My shadow

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The sun

I turned back onto State Road 45 (I realized this route includes three stretches of riding on 45) and headed toward home.  This road was wet, although it wasn’t raining. I must’ve lucked out as while clearly some rain had come through here, I didn’t get hit by it.

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Riding home on 45

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45 again

I really enjoyed this ride. It makes me want to do more rides in rain, or at times when it’s threatening to rain, anyway. On the other hand, I was lucky I didn’t get hit by any storms … that could have changed my tune considerably. The weird thing was, by the time I got home, I was pretty much soaked, but more from perspiration in the extreme humidity than rain. This was a  great ride through some beautiful country, made even more beautiful by the conditions.

4 Responses to “Mount Gilead / South Shore loop, and a little rain”

  1. furiousball Says:

    loved that shadow pic and the shots of the skies are really beautiful

  2. Marty Says:

    The shadow shot was definitely a fun one – as always, a great story told with your pictures and words.

  3. tim Says:

    I like the shadow pic best. good to see you’re not on Mozilla’s bad list at the moment.

  4. John Says:

    I really got my fill both riding and camping in the rain last week. I had to have my bar tape replace while on tour and really tried to get the color you have on your bike. No luck and ended up with black tape. Booooring.

    I’ll tell you S24Os are nice, but week long (O’s) are great.

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