I guess you could say I took a bit of a break. Aside from commuting (which, granted, is over 10 miles each day), I didn’t do any rides for over two weeks. I was sick for a few days, so there’s that factor, but realistically, I guess I just needed a break.
Anyway, Sunday I went for a great ride with my mountain biking friend Dave. But this time, we rode on the road. He got some skinny tires for his full-suspension mountain bike, so we decided to go try them out.
The ride we did is a local classic, up to Morgan-Monroe State Forest, through the forest, and back down again. I rode to/from his house as well, giving me 53 miles for the day. Here’s the route, with a few edits for privacy’s sake.
I felt decent on my way over to Dave’s, though I sort of forgot that since we moved, the ride to Dave’s is now 13.5 miles, instead of the seven or so miles it was before. I wasn’t going blazingly fast, but I wasn’t doing too badly, either. The cornfields and such along the way were turning yellow. The past couple of months have been very dry here and it’s taking its toll. In some places leaves have already died and fallen off some trees. Fortunately that problem isn’t too widespread yet, but I’m worried that if things continue this way we may not have a very spectacular fall.
It was going to be a hot day. It wasn’t too bad when I arrived at Dave’s a little after 10:00 am, though. We set out and had a great ride up to the forest. Dave had no problem at all keeping up with me, even though he was on his full-suspension mountain bike and I was on my road bike. His new tires make a huge difference! I believe they’re Panaracer Pasela 26×1.25″ tires, for the record.
Old 37 has a new surface that’s incredibly smooth, and a joy to ride on.
A red-tailed hawk swooped alongside us, briefly.
Once in Morgan-Monroe, we saw the “Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment,” where they have clearcut an area, supposedly to find out what happens when you clearcut an area. It seems to me there were plenty of pre-existing examples they could study, but what do I know? Dave hadn’t seen this yet and was pretty shocked. I’ve seen it a few times but it is still shocking to see a big section of forest is missing.
We rode over to the forest office to top off our water bottles, and headed back toward Bean Blossom Road, where we would descend out of the forest. However, we made a stop along the way to see Draper Cabin, which is available for rental. The cabin is in a ravine by a couple of creeks, and we had to hike further than we expected, downhill, on a chunky gravel drive, and then hike back up. It was worth the trip, but by this time it was getting quite hot and we missed having the airflow from riding. It was awkward walking, too, in our cycling shoes.
The creeks were dry, but still charming.
We hiked back up and got back on our bikes. Next we would have a long, flowing descent down Bean Blossom Road. It’s about a mile and a half, mostly downhill, on very smooth pavement. This is a hell of a climb if you’re going the other way. I’ve done it a few times, it’s not fun. Unfortunately, Dave was having some issues with his brakes and had to go very slowly down the hill.
Soon we were out of the forest and the road flattened out for a little bit.
Unfortunately, the route we took back had us climb Shilo Road. It’s only steep a little bit at the start, but the road mostly climbs for 3-4 miles. It’s not a constant climb, but it’s very tiring. It was really getting hot now, which didn’t help, either. At least there was some shade. Dave got significantly ahead of me during this part … I was definitely feeling my recent lack of long rides.
When we got back to State Road 45, we went our separate ways. Dave was just a couple of miles from home. I had another 12-13 miles to go. It was really hot, and there was no shade available. My stomach was starting to not feel too well. I stopped in New Unionville and got some fresh, cold water, which helped a lot. I rode on home, not moving very fast, but doing OK.
I took High Street through town, a new route for me. Now High Street can get busy at times, but I figured it’d be quiet on a Sunday afternoon, and I was right. There were very few cars. It was a little hilly, but the hills were of the fun, small, rolling variety, with a nice downhill at the end.
Then I rode through the “Goat Farm” park on the new portion of the Jackson Creek Trail, which connects with our neighborhood. It was quite scenic and surprisingly vacant.
However, there’s a decent climb up away from the park. Normally this hill doesn’t give me too much trouble, but I was running out of steam. My legs actually started cramping on the way up. I was less than a mile from home, yet my legs were cramping! Argh.
I stopped at the top of the hill to catch my breath, and got rolling again. Soon enough, I was home.
When I got home, I concluded that I shouldn’t have gone so long between long rides, and I should have at least done SOME rides during the week. Wow, that hurt. I guess my acclimatization to the heat took a hit as well, as it cooled off briefly, mainly during the time I wasn’t riding.
Despite my difficulties, it was a great ride, and I was thrilled to be back on the bike doing a real ride. It was also awesome to ride with Dave … we haven’t had enough chances to ride this year.