Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Ride Around Lake Monroe

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

During the week last week, I didn’t ride at all, except for riding to and from work. On Saturday, I did a routine, but great, shortish road ride (25 miles). On Sunday, I decided a longer ride was in order, and felt like repeating the Ride Around Lake Monroe, which I have done a few times, but not recently. I made a few modifications to the route this time around. Here’s a map and elevation profile.


View 2009-11-22 Ride Around Lake Monroe in a larger map

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The ride started on State Road 446, where I have ridden quite a few times. Sometimes, traffic is a problem here, especially as you approach the lake, but there weren’t many people headed out to the lake in mid-November.  Traffic was light and drivers were courteous. Last year, they covered this road in chipseal and it’s still a bit rough, and slow you down noticeably. I hope this improves in time. On a positive note, since most of the leaves have fallen now, there are some nice views in places where you normally can’t see as much.

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Soon, I reached the causeway. I always love riding across lakes, and we’re fortunate to have three lakes nearby that have bridges conducive to riding — Lake Monroe being one of them (the other two are Lake Lemon and Lake Griffy).

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Naturally, when I reached the other side of the lake, I had a big hill to climb. Looking back, from partway up, yielded another nice view.

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Once I reached the top of the hill, 446 was flat for a few miles. I rode through “Dead Man’s Curve,” a deceptively sharp turn where many accidents have occurred.

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Eventually, I turned onto Chapel Hill Road, a quieter back road. I was glad to be off the highway; even though there wasn’t a lot of traffic, highway riding always makes me a little uneasy.

I rolled for a few more easy miles, but at some point took a wrong turn, even though I had my GPS. Fortunately, a couple of signs told me in no uncertain terms that I had gone the wrong way.

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Road Ends In Water / Dead End

I backtracked, and quickly found the way I meant to go. The roads were full of twists and turns as they followed ridgetops for a few miles, generally heading downhill. I was so immersed in riding (and dodging several dogs) that I once again missed my turn.

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It didn’t take me long to get back on track. And I didn’t really mind getting off course a little … I was having fun! I had some nice views from the top of the ridge, before the road plunged downward quite steeply.

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I rode through the valley briefly, past cow pastures and over some rolling hills, and up to a spot with a great view of the village of Coveyville. I always have to stop at this spot to rest and take some photos.

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I rode back down into the valley and suddenly, it was startlingly flat for the next mile or so. Of course, this didn’t last long; I soon reached a couple of big climbs.

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From the hilltops, I could see large birds soaring. I don’t think I saw any eagles (probably turkey vultures, and I believe one hawk), but I stopped to gaze for a few minutes.

Before too long, I reached the dam. This is an interesting area of the lake where I have not spent much time. I think there may be a park near there, I need to look more closely next time.

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Looking back from atop the dam

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If you look closely, you can see a couple walking their dog by the water

I rode across the dam and turned north, toward town.

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I had a bit more climbing to do, then the road went steeply downhill, and immediately back up. Once I reached the top of the ridge, the riding was surprisingly flat for several more miles. I took a different route here than I have in the past (I’ve always missed the turn, previously) and it was nice flat riding on Strain Ridge Road.  Somewhere along here, I was passed by a guy riding a mountain bike with an engine rigged up. He zipped past me and I thought about trying to chase him down, but he went straight up a hill at about 25 mph. There was no way I could catch him. I was surprised by how fast his bike was; I had a moped as a kid and that thing slowed significantly on any hill.

During this stretch of road, I also saw a truck painting lines on the road, with cars lined up behind him, headed in the opposite direction.

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I rode past a strange combination of huge, new houses on one side of the road, and farms on the other.

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Strain Ridge got hillier toward the end of my time on it, and I turned onto Smithville Road. I had ridden here before, and remembered a big hill. I thought maybe the hill wouldn’t be as hard as I remembered, but I was wrong. After plunging into a valley, I stopped to look at more large bird overhead. Again, I don’t think I saw any eagles, but it was still cool to see.

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I knew the big climb was coming up, and I passed one road, thinking, “I’m glad I don’t have to climb that!”

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But then I saw the hill I had to climb, and it was worse …

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It’s hard to get a sense of perspective from the photos, but the bottom of the climb was very steep. The grade eased up a bit after that but it was still a long climb, about 3/4 mile total.  From the top, it was a routine ride home, with some easier rolling hills.

I finished the day with about 42 miles of riding. Not an epic ride, but it’s more mileage than I’ve ridden in a day for at least a couple of weeks. I’ve been mountain biking and hiking instead of road riding, and I enjoy all three activities, so it’s sometimes hard to choose how to divide my time.

One Response to “Ride Around Lake Monroe”

  1. Chris Says:

    Excellent. Some of those photos remind me of what is to come around here…a thousand shades of brown. I guess that sounds bland to some, but as your photos show, it can be quite interesting and appealing.

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