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

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ft. Toulouse

With the promise of warmer air today than in recent weekends, I posted a 7:15 meet up for a cruise to Wetumpka and Ft. Toulouse state park. The fort was built in 1714 by the French to protect traders from attacks by local natives who may have felt short changed by the whole European invasion thing. Fighting persisted for 100 years until a decisive battle between the Creeks and General Andrew Jackson at Horseshoe Bend. They renamed the fort for the General and also the treaty that ended the Creek War, which also by the way, added a big chunk of AL and GA to the United States.

We intend to start bicycle camping this year and this park was suggested as a good local starting point. About 25 miles each way, we could test our bike set ups, see if we packed the right stuff, etc. If we omitted something essential, it's close enough to home to call for a special delivery. After a campout shakedown, we can then look at longer rides to other more out of the way places. Today was just a route recon to see if there would be any issues for laden bikes. There were a couple of less than perfect sections, but it was all generally okay. I planned for an out and back, but Max suggested a loop and that is what we did.

I was originally just going to head out from home, but Frank wanted in and so we set a meet up at the Wal-Mart parking lot about 1/2 way between us. Then Frank came up sick, and Max and Glen wanted to go, so WE met at 7:15 in Prattville. Then Chris wanted in, so we waited for him too. As a surprise, Jerry came pedaling up. He lives in Wetumpka and came over. He rode with us back to the park, then peeled off to go home.

Nice sunny day to start with, but breezy. It was 46F, and I wore a L/S Smartwool base layer under the Rivendell Wooly Warm jersey that came this week. It's my size, blue, nearly new in condition and 1/3 of new retail off Etsy. Worked great and no jacket needed. Was still fine when the temps climbed during the day to the low 60s, and kept the wind at bay. Since the ride was not too hilly, I took the Riv Road which has a closer gearing range than the others.  Like many of rides, when you have some over 50 types along, figure on some bathroom stops. Today was not different in that regard.  Chris likes this I think. He can RACE ahead, find a store and pit stop, and then be casually leaning on the outside wall waiting for us to catch up.

We stopped at a Shell on US 231 and Jerry provided a lesson in bunny hopping the curb. Well, he was almost successful. He was laughing pretty good about it too. When we got to the intersection of 74 and 231, Chris asked, "are we gonna have to climb that hill?" I didn't know which hill he meant. "The one with a restaurant at the top."   I had no idea.  So we pedaled along and sure enough rounding a curve, there was a large hill. "Yes. The answer is yes. We are climbing a hill." It wasn't bad really. He was having issues with chain skip or failure to line up properly on the rear gears, which is a shame on his near new carbon frame Cervelo. He and Glenn were pulled over looking it over. I first thought that he must have flatted (another fishhook in the sidewall?) but his tires were fine.  Later, his bottom bracket (or the shell!) started to creak very loudly!. Thankfully he finished the ride, but I suspect that the bike shop will need to scope this one out. The original frame he says had to be replaced from a factory defect. Hope that is not the case this time.

We started out quicker than I would have if riding alone, but I was enjoying it. The price to be paid came at the end when I ran low on gas in my legs. Still, the overall average was decent by my standards and that includes some very slow ambling inside the park while we checked things out. Max and I authorized each other so we went around the sign that says "Authorized Vehicles Only" and checked out the historical markers and the reconstructed old fort.

The camping accommodations will do, but more remote campsites would be way better.

It was a good ride and good to be home for lunch. After eating, Sharon went and got Kael and I took Stella. We all converged at the dog park. Stella discovered mud. AFTER Sharon bathed her, she was suitable to be loose in the house again. Kael and I followed up with a toss of a baseball. He's 6 and it's about time he learns to put a mitt on his hand.

Nice day.

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