Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Another great evening ride

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Last night I did a modified version of a route I’ve done before. It had me riding longer on trails, and riding a more difficult section of trail. In the past I’ve gone out Smith Road to Moore’s Pike, down Lampkins Ridge, and then over to the trail, taking a flat, direct route through the trail. This time, I went the opposite direction and took the hillier, more overgrown and more technical section of trail. I’ve ridden the Long Haul Trucker on the easier section of trail several times now so I knew it handled well there, but how would it fare on something a little more intense?

I rode over to the trail, where the first thing I had to do was go down a hill on an eroded, root-filled trail. I had to take extra care to avoid pedal strike, since the Trucker rides so low to the ground, but I found I could roll over the roots quite well. I made it most of the way down the following hill, although I did walk the  dropoff at the bottom, as it was just too eroded. If I had knobby tires, I might have tried to ride down the sloped section you can see on the left side of the photo.

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Eroded trail down a hill

Once down the hill, I had to go up the other side. It’s only a small hill and I had no trouble. I’m continually impressed with how well these Continental Contact tires handle, even offroad. They do have a tread pattern, but it’s pretty tame. Still, they grip well even in dirt. Once up the hill the trail was flat for a while  and curved gently through the forest. The main challenges here were avoiding the overgrown brush and the walnuts and sticks on the ground.

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Enveloped by trees

I stopped where the trail intersects another trail. I am very familiar with these trails so I know that the connecting trail goes alongside a ravine and then very steeply drops down into the ravine before climbing out the other side. Parts aren’t even ridable on a mountain bike, so I didn’t try going this way.

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Stopped by the ravine

Instead, I continued in the direction I was going. The trail made a long descent into a valley. The Trucker handled well, but I kept my speed down because I felt hard braking would not work too well with these tires. Also, the last time I rode here there was a tree down across the trail toward the bottom of the hill, and I didn’t want to hit it. But the tree is no longer there. My thanks to whomever moved it!

I was pretty surprised how well I was able to just roll over rocks, roots, and the numerous sticks that still cover the trail after the winds Ike sent our way. At one point, a stick got stuck in my front fender. I have to be really careful about this, if it got stuck the wrong way, it could lock up the wheel and wash out or send me over the bars. There was one log I would hop on the mountain bike, but on the Trucker I’d probably smash the chainring into the log. Not something I want to deal with, so I walked over it.

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Lots of sticks on the trail

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The Trucker in the woods

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By the creekbed. The creek is completely dry.

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Looking toward the trail

Next came a long climb out of the valley. I had to walk the steeper parts, as my rear wheel spun out beneath me. But once past the steepest part, I was able to ride the rest of the way. It took a lot of effort, but it was doable. It’s a tough hill.

The trail spit me out onto a gravel road.

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Gravel road

I rode down this and pretty soon it turned to pavement and went down a steep hill, curving on the way down. I’ve ridden up this hill several times but never down it. I had to ride the brakes most of the way, it’s just too curvy to let loose.

I was on familiar roads for a while. Kerr Creek Road is very bumpy and my front light broke during this stretch of road. The light snapped right off of the bracket that holds it on the handlebars. I really need to get my lighting situation squared away on this bike.

I saw three deer grazing on a lawn and actually managed to get a photo. After I took a photo, they ran off but were running in the same direction I was going, so I rode alongside them briefly.

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Deer

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The sun hides behind some hills

I rode over to Friendship Road, which again I have ridden, but not in this direction. It’s flat and easy gravel riding for a few minutes.

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Friendship Road

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Fields, hills, and wildflowers line Friendship Road

I turned on Lampkins Ridge Road, knowing it would be mostly climbing in this direction. It climbs around 300 feet, mostly in the first mile and change. Only one section is steep, but it’s a lot of climbing and pretty tiring. I saw a few more deer while I climbed.

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Climbing Lampkins Ridge Rd.

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Almost at the top

It was getting pretty dark, although I could still see well enough to ride. I was mostly worried about being seen. Fortunately, my rear blinky was fine. I just had to be careful of cars going the opposite direction, who might turn in front of me. Lampkins Ridge has very little traffic anyway but I knew there would be more closer to town.

It was especially dark on Lampkins Ridge as it’s heavily wooded. Once I reached a clearer part, there was more light. And more still when I hit Moore’s Pike. I was treated to a gorgeous sunset over the hills as I headed back toward town.

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Sunset on Moore’s Pike

All in all, a short ride, at under 15 miles. It felt a lot longer, though, with the trails and gravel roads, and a couple of long climbs. I’ve been doing shorter post-work rides these days; I really need to figure out my lighting situation so I can stay out longer. I’m loving these fall sunsets though and the air cooling significantly over the course of my rides.

One Response to “Another great evening ride”

  1. Jon Grinder Says:

    Sometimes, riding a familiar trail on a road bike can really make the ride special. Also, here in Colorado, people are so married to the concept of “road bike” and “mountain bike” that you get some good double takes from other riders on the trail.

    You should see the reaction when I take the high-wheeler offroad…

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