Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


A couple of times now, I've thought about just picking a route someone left on and trying it, sight unseen. Greenville is a tiny community about an hour south off the interstate, and a rider down there has posted several routes, but not a note or comment on any of them. His/her screen name is "Hartatak" which makes me pause to consider just how difficult a route chosen by such a person might be. Well, today, I tried a route in a totally unfamiliar place, without a map (just written directions) but equipped to be self-sufficient. It would be an adventure on a small scale.

The map shows Shearling Lake Park nearby and that's where I left the car. I had 56 oz of water and a pair of GUs. Some of the roads looked like they might have a store, but I wasn't going to chance running out of water. Three 18 oz bottles will carry me 45 miles easily. More if they have to. Today I carried two maxi bottles. These hold 28 oz each.

I took the Saluki today, a randonneur type bike, and shod for the first time with new Grand Bois Cypres tires. It was a good choice. Three sides of the rectangle making up the route are hilly, coarse pavement as you go up and down the ridge, then along it a while, then up and down some more. The long wheelbase of the Saluki and the 32 mm rubber proved adept at erasing the vibrations from the road. Handling down the twisty descents was excellent as well. The climbs were slow going, and I had plenty of gears, so the weight of the bike and baggage made no difference.

I was a little disappointed that there was very little in scenic beauty to look at. Several dead towns, and I took a few pictures as I passed by. There were stately homes scattered throughout, but it was mostly woods, or mobile homes rusting in the woods.

It was a great workout, and I felt good about the challenge. Do I trust my legs to take me anywhere I need to go, even if I have no idea how the route is? I know the answer is yes. I held back for most of the ride to be sure there was a reserve of energy if needed, but it wasn't. I finished up by going down to the boat ramp in the park (past the sign that warned "Steep Grade") and climbing back up, standing on the pedals. (maybe a 20% grade?) After that, I was ready to pack it away. Final stats: 44.66 miles at 13.6 mph. Lots of climbing :)

Some pictures are above. First, there is the "ridge" that Ridge Rd. runs on. Not much of a clearing in the trees, but you can see across the valley to get a sense of the amount of rise. Next is one of those stately southern country homes that are scattered along many of my rural rides. Then a store which has been closed for years and is overgrown with weeds. I laughed to see that its name was "Luckies." a while later, I came upon an abandoned gas station and photographed my non fossil fuel burning vehicle in front of it. Finally, there is a neat looking old barn with its 1800s date marked. Many of the area churches had signs saying that they were founded in the 1850s - 1870s. That's about when some go-fast cyclists would estimate my bike was designed!.

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