Sooooo, I've been surprised that I am bettering my times on practically every climb this month compared to spring efforts so while I usually hike a bunch and cycle little in the fall visits, let's drive to the base of Kitt Peak and try that climb!!!! Thanksgiving morning and the gate is closed...bummer but the other side is open so I begin.
12.5 miles, averaging around 6% and finally, I am closing in. Actually, all these pics were taken on the descent cause on the ascent, I was working too hard to take images!
No cars passed me on the way up and 2 going down while I was going up. For the heck of it I weaved across the road sometimes. I set a new personal best time and after checking Strava, finished 3 seconds behind Chris Carmichael, the cycling coach...I should have sprinted at the end or brought out my beloved "bh" bike. Yeah, that would have secured me at least 3 seconds.
I sometimes get a little emotional at these peaks, be it from hiking or riding. If I could bring all of you to share this, I would,,ok a couple of you more then the others.
Geesh. Descending with all the sights.....
....and more sights and then....
...how bout that??? I did not expect to see another cyclist but a man and woman were churning up and a but later, I saw a guy on a road bike. I gave him a thumbs up, he returned the gesture, we smiled at each other and probably had a similar though; late November, Thanksgiving day, riding in shorts and jersey, up a great climb, sunny, light wind, temp in the 80's, it is good to be alive and in AZ. OK, Hawaii or CA would be ok too.
Tis a sad, sad tale to tell. Prior to my arrival in AZ, I had an issue with my laptop, got it fixed but it was about 5 years old and was warned, it wasn't going to work much longer. Upon arriving here, it crashed but I took it to "Fast Rhino" a computer repair place and had all data removed from the hard drive, bought a new laptop and was good to go, Then, Sunday evening, it being a laptop, it was on my lap. In my left hand was a glass of wine....I fell asleep. I woke up, found nothing amiss and went to bed. The next morning, I started up the computer, noted the keys were kind of sticky so I had spilled a mere splash of wine on the keyboard. Then the computer shut down. Back to Fast Rhino and the circuit board had shorted!!! A minor $300 mistake. This afternoon, I retrieved the laptop and upon advice of a friend, must drink wine from a sippy cup from now on. The good news, I am back in action!!! I regret the paltry quantity of posts but like Mount Vesuvius, will come gushing forth with content very soon. I apologize.
The sun casts light on the highest peak prior to disappearing below the horizon.
Roughly 9000 cyclists participated in this year's El Tour de Tucson. I calculated the first group would arrive in front of our place at 9:30am so rode out and dang, there they went, around 30 of them. I warmed up and soon....
....a second group came by having about 25 cyclists. My intent was only to ride with them long enough to get through Moore Road. I asked a guy what was his average speed to that point and he said 24mph. I hung with them for about 12 miles and upon reaching the turn south on Twin Peaks Road, bugged out. I coasted down Twin Peaks and....
....ouch! A touch of tires in the front group and 9 cyclists either went down or stopped to render help. Police were quick to respond and soon a EMS truck arrived. I cruised into Marana and stopped at....
....a gas station for a snack. Groups of cyclists continued to ride by and check out the gas price!!! It has been consistently at or a few cents around $2.25. Not sure why it is not susceptible to the price swings in Ohio, maybe distribution cost difference?
I headed south on Silverbell Road and quickly was swept up by another group. We were ushered through all intersections with a heavy presence of police and we always thanked them for being there. After a few miles I bugged out again and....
....headed northeast toward Oro Valley and home. Finished with 41 miles.
The first of many stops, after driving east on I-10 and then south on #83. The entrance to AZ's "Wine Country."
Got to place a glass of wine in the image just because.
Our daughter Oliva shares my passion for wine if not my ability to consume vast quantities of it.
Being a Thursday, with light traffic, the B team of wine servers was out to pour. They were borderline rude, I guess being the owner's daughter or relative was not motivating enough to be pleasant.
The area around Elgin has vast open space and plenty of mountain ranges to view in the distance. The tasting rooms and wineries are on a par with Ohio wineries. It is nice to have a glass and sit on the porch and sip or guzzle as the case may be, a glass of wine.
A friendly dog approached so Olivia hugged it.
As I said, vast open spaces. It has rained once in 2 months so the grass is brown.
The pourer at "Deep Sky" winery was nice and gave a very generous pour. I generously drank it all.
This was our 6th and final stop. Good time but now, on to cycling and hiking!!!
Typically, when out here in the fall, I hike a bunch and don't ride very often. It has been an odd year and still, I am motivated to ride. Not a lot of miles, 30 here, 40 there but to be frank, I am within striking distance of my cycling buddy on Strava, a mere 500 miles distant. 500 miles is a lot but not when I am in sunny and warm AZ and she is in cloudy and cold OH. I could close that gap in a couple of weeks so... Above, a major reconstruction project is taking the dips out of the northern approach to Oro Valley via Tangerine Road while also widening it and adding a bike lane. Still a ways to go.
Wow, in the suburb of Marana, a Top Golf is going in. A 3 tiered driving range but the focus is not on hitting golf balls, instead on a high end bar and restaurant and these things have become very popular around the US.
Then, while riding through a community having an airport and many hangers in which residents keep their planes on their property, I found a guy washing his plane. This is a WWII trainer used by the Swedish air force. The owner puts in 100 hours a year flying it and can put his mountain bike in there.
Wow, had to wake at 5:00am and arrived at my destination just as the sun was rising, casting its first light on the Superstitions. I passed a guy standing on a ladder perched in the bed of his truck, waiting for the sun to rise. Quite a show.
This hike popped on the schedule only the day before so only 4 of us signed up and began yet another eye popping experience starting on the Dutchman trail.
Ok, actually there were 5 of us counting the black lab.
Today's destination and note the little window on the right. When the sun hits it just right, it throws off a narrow shaft of light, hence the "needle" in the title. As for "Miners", I have no idea. It would be nice to approach the object from here but alas.....
.....we have to go all the way to the back side prior to going off trail and up. It was almost 4 miles to the base of the Needle and then...
....and long expanse of slick rock. I enjoy hoofing it up these steep slopes and then....
....I'm getting closer, headed toward the ridge, center right.
I know it does not look like it but really steep. I should have waited for someone to be on the wall to give it scale but behind me, two of the group bailed on the climb and heck, I like to be first so....
....wow, how about that.
Ok, didn't make it to the actual top since that would require technical climbing gear and I would not trust my body weight on that structure. Not how I want to end my fun.
Between the notch, I can make out a segment of the trail we followed. I couldn't make myself walk too close on the slope with loose gravel. I'm dumb but not stupid!
More with the trail running to the lower left. Soon, I am....
...back on it, returning to the trail head and notching another fun hike of 8 miles.
A long but fun day. I committed to this hike a few weeks ago. It is said to be the best leaf watching hike in AZ but a hard one and it was. So Mr. Nice Guy saw a student from UofA wanted to do the hike but did not have a car so could someone pick her up in Tucson. I waited and watched and no one committed so I did. Let's not delve into that cause it is a side issue. I drive as far as my Civic can go on a 15 mile dirt road, 1 mile shy of the trail head. Then, a guy in a SUV comes along and offers to take us the remaining mile to the trail head. What luck and what a bouncy drive and yeah, high clearance vehicles need only apply. This is 34 miles north of Wilcox, AZ.
The student I picked up in downtown Tucson is from northern Iran, here on a student visa. Nice person, quiet and somewhat reserved. Good traveling companion and she solved the mystery of why the interior of the windshield is clouded, as if a smoker drove the car. It has to do with the polymers used for manufacturing the dashboard, how that interacts with summer heat, throwing off molecules that then cloud the windshield. Smart young lady with a bright future, here entering the tunnel of color.
Wait, what??? This is AZ. The people who prefer Florida are crazy, so flat and boring while in AZ, you have this and so much more!
Our group was 15 and a long story but my Iranian buddy and I hiked alone for awhile. Here, we ran into a threesome who had spent the night at the peak and were on their way down. They had some good info for the trail....when you reach sections that are overgrown, just shove yourself forward. Ok! Everyone who ventures up this difficult trail is so fit. No fatties need apply.
Kept hiking up the trail out of Ash Canyon and despite all the beauty, it began to get monotonous and then....the trail broke toward a wall and I rose above Ash Canyon. However, you can see the magnificent colors through which I hiked. Wow.
I began to encounter Manzanita bushes, notable for their scarlet colored branches. I was hiking alone now, having provided some guidance through multiple stream crossings. From this point on, the trail is mostly obvious. I wondered, where is the peak and then.....
....close to reaching a ridge, to the south, ugh, there it is. So far yet to go. That looks steep at the top and so it was.
Cool, there is the canyon through which I hiked, the end of it populated by Aspen trees with yellow leaves.
Now, multiple mountain ranges began to emerge as I slogged higher. I began to think about a Strava segment, yeah crazy but as it turns out, none existed on this remote route.
I reached the peak and a few minutes later, so too did the guy who gave me a lift at the bottom. There were three of them and they all are prominent members of "hikearizona.com" a popular destination for hikers seeking routes and info on hikes around the US. Actually, the originator of the site was there, healing from a 20' fall a month ago.
Yeah, similar to an image I already posted but this was awesome.
Although it was a 2+ hour drive from Oro Valley, Mount Lemmon and the surrounding Catalina Mountains were prominent in the background, appearing to be closer than they are. Many other ranges were also observed. Fantastic.
I had been waiting for an hour prior to any members of the group arriving and that is too long so I began a solo effort, got lost as the trail is overgrown and faint, ended up left of that plateau on the left of the image, heard some voices, did some bush whacking and finally found the real trail.
To the east, Mount Graham with an observatory barely visible.
From this point, the trail heads to the ridge then down into Ash Canyon. With the hike and subsequent unplanned walking to the car, got in 13+ miles and 3000'+ feet of hard climbing. Well, got another good one coming after a couple of days of cycling.
Hiked to 7 falls and have never seen it so dry. No flow, just a couple of pools. Rain the following day may have started the water again though. On Wednesday, I signed up for a group ride out of....
....Sonoita, just southeast of Tucson and at the entrance to "wine country." Around 15 cyclists came out and prior to the ride I had been encouraged by seeing a couple of names that ride at an A or B pace. The ride was supported by a van, driven by a cyclist who crashed and out of commission for awhile. The van would be available during the ride to shed clothing and then at the lake for lunch.
Alas, it had been promoted as a C pace and the two who can ride faster needed to do a recovery ride so at mile 0.05, I got away. The area received quite a bit of rain last night, the first in almost 2 months. The monsoon season really fizzled after a strong start. A match thrown in the grass would quickly escalate.
The Rincon Mountains with Mount Wrightson to the west.
I passed a couple of wineries. Kind of sad looking but the area's 7-9 wineries are on a par with Ohio's in terms of grape production and tasting room quality. Not Napa or the Central Coast but worth a visit.
The routes to the lake gains around 1500' of elevation so the vegetation begins to change and soon....
....I'm in thick forest of mostly pine. At mile 29, drop into Parker Canyon and there.....
....find the lake. Very nice spot at around 5500 elevation. There is a well stocked....
....general store too so I buy a Coke and wait 30 minutes for the others to arrive.
I was told the fishing is very good and there were several boats on the water. I join the others for lunch but now I am in the super, ultra linger time of around 50 minutes so I thank everyone and head off for another solo effort that takes.....
....me past this neat ranch where there is an extensive network of fencing made from tree limbs.
A system had rolled through out of Baja and so some lingering clouds are on the horizon. Finished with 58 miles and 3200' of climbing. The pavement was fantastic with a nice rolling route and a couple of good climbs. Would do it again. Also traffic was very light.
Below I describe the ascent to the ridge that is west of Superstition Peak. After pausing at the ridge to take in the magnificence that is the interior of the Supes, I headed toward the peak. First, you go up and over a hill or go around it following a very faint trail. I did the latter, got off trail several times, cliffed out and decided, up and over is best. The next section is navigating a boulder field. A guy could disappear into some of the crevices. Next....
.....you bear right around this and....
....looking back, wow.
Then this interesting feature. Yeah, doesn't look like much but if I was standing in there you could barely see me. Up....
.....the left, about half way grab a cleft of stone and then jump. For the uncoordinated like me, I stood there for a moment calculating prior to making the leap of faith. I figured I'd have a problem coming back down but hey, that would be later so onward.
Then I go to the left of the peak to it's.....
.....right side (as seen from Apache Junction) and begin to ascend.
It's hard to focus with such compelling views all around. These hoodoos are huge and much taller than me.
Ahhhh, the final obstacle and maybe the most challenging. It's kind of work right to left, then up, then left to right, up and up and....
....onto the peak I scamper. The old ammo box with the registry is inside so I proudly sign my name, for about the 3rd time. It's a small area so after eating an apple and of course enjoying the views after the roughly 4 mile hike with almost 3000' of elevation gain I.....
....begin the long descent.
At the ridge, I look at the canyon before me. OK, here is where it got really strange and just when I think I have seen it all....I reach the Hieroglyphic pools and there is one guy there with a bunch of photographic equipment. Of course I walk over and below him in the dry river bed, which is a beautiful area, is a woman with no clothes on. Yep, I kid you not I say, "Whoa, I had no idea, sorry." The guy tells me no problem as the woman puts a bathing suit back on. I swear, I did not watch. He says it is a public area so they expected this could happen but they were expecting visitors from the other direction not from the peak. I quickly turn and walk away but the blog mentality kicks in and I begin to think, this could be a.....
....content worthy image and besides, no one would believe me so from a great distance, I yell if it is ok if I take a pic for my blog, They say ok but wait for her to cover so there it is, the proof. Well, back to the dull life of a cyclist as I took Saturday off and did a 49 mile ride with a group called "The Cactus Club" on Sunday. Much more to come on other activities.
To the north I drive to the Superstition Wilderness and while driving through Apache Junction, spot today's destination, hike to that low point in the ridge, hang a right and proceed to Superstition Peak. 8 mile round trip with 3000'+ climbing. A challenging hike and quasi adventure.
I head out on a heavily traveled Hieroglyphics Trail as dozens of day hikers head to the pools to look at the rock engravings. On the way, I spot the Flat Iron and other prominent features. In the spring, the slope above is covered in yellow flowers.
At mile 1.5, I reach the pools and engravings. Very cool. I had passed around 40 people but from this point forward, would see no one. Above the pools, the trail becomes overgrown and at times, difficult to follow so I find myself off trail a couple of times but usually, it is not too hard to follow.
Looking back from where I had come, wow. Then I enter....
....ugh, a brushy section but shove myself through it and then confronted with....
....one of several "walls". Obstacles like this add to the fun of course.
Oh wow, way too far still to go and so rugged looking. Was "Lord of the Rings" filmed here?
I enter the bottom of the canyon and follow this for awhile. Lots of fun running into dry waterfalls and trying to figure out how to ascend. Sometimes it is scrambling up the center but usually there is a workaround to the right or left.
Yeah, looks like just take a step up and this can be overcome up way too high for that. Instead I crawl through the boulders on the right.
Ok, this had a pucker factor associated with it, near to the top. Steep with lots of loose gravel and stones. I navigate my way through, reach the ridge and.....
....I can't even begin to describe it. It takes my breath away, gazing into the interior of the Supes. I take my pack off and eat an apple and just look at the many features including....
....Battleship Mountain which is that insignificant yellow colored feature in the middle, Geronimo Head, Four Peaks, etc... A wealth of cool destinations. Well, next comes the balance of the hike.
Each visit to the area begins with (well ok, I hiked once already) the Blackett's Ridge hike out of Sabino Canyon. It begins at the edge of the parking lot and 2.8 miles later, ends at the top of the ridge. The first .75 miles is....
....flat to slightly rolling. Reaching this paved road, I hang a right and trams full of people headed to Bear Canyon pass me.
The road drops into a ravine that has two bridge crossings. At times, water flows across the pavement but while the monsoon season began strongly, it kind of fizzled so the river was dry.
Mountain Lions have been spotted recently so the signs are out. Then I find.....
....a signed junction signaling the start of the trail and the start of....
....the real climb. For the next 2 miles, the average grade is 16% but tops out at 48% in places. If I complete the hike from parking lot to top in under 60 minutes it's a good sign of my overall fitness. More than 60 minutes, a worrying indicator.
The trail turns up and steeper. I go as hard as I can with my chest heaving.
Oh geesh, a really steep section. My legs are still felling good so I'm beginning to think I have a good time going and maintain the pace.
A long slick rock section but steep.
I've seen rattlers here but can't slow down now.
Almost to the top with nice views of the Rincon Mountains to the southeast.
And there it is, a sign post indicating the top. 53:26 was my time, a personal best. Later, checking Strava I am 4th of 262 for the 2 mile climbing section so that made me happy too. Soon, I was joined by.....
....3 squirrels. The one above peers into Sabino Canyon but soon begins pestering me so I leave a chunk of apple and it....
....rushes in and grabs it. Well, got my bike fixed from Sunday's crash and will head out for a ride.
The laptop that I use for work, crashed. Spent way too much time visiting a computer repair place that was able to retrieve data so that was good but it all cut into my time during final week in Ohio. I did manage to build an industrial strength bird feeder, from cedar that will last years. Saturday morning, I took a flight to.....
.....Tucson and was able to......
.....watch the exciting 4th quarter of the Buckeye game. What a finish!!!! The following morning......
....a lone Javalina came around. Ugly beasts and best not to get too close cause they can be aggressive.Sensing he had ill intent, I did not linger.
I walked around the grounds and the area is know for the trees, which I am all for except when they grow to block the view from the patio so I am preparing a night time raid on the offending branches.
And then of course there is the blue sky and the mountains. Kind of hot the first day, low 90's but I got on the bike around 10:00am and one mile into the ride, a jogger inexplicably made a left turn as I was preparing to pass. She had ear buds in of course, did not look back and I had no opportunity to react other than plow into her. My handle bar caught, turned and I was sent flying over the top,landing on my right shoulder and hip. I laid there taking inventory, all seemed ok and bounced up! How bout that!!! Another cyclist arrived and said she had witnessed it all, the jogger just turned into me. Then a doctor, also a jogger, arrived, what great timing but I turned down the offer to assist as other than some pain I had full movement of my right arm, no broken clavicle, heck even the clothing was ok. That was yesterday,now I feel like I got hit by a bus but all will be good, except for the bike. Long story there.
Triple Nickel Ride this Sunday @8:30 a.m. from Howell Park in Bremen: the ride goes out Marietta road to SR13 to Portie Flamingo road to 555 in Portersville (27 miles to first stop at A&B carry out) continues on 555 to Bartlett (52.5 miles to second stop at Marathon//Country Corner Pizza). Return for a total 102 miles of fantastic fall scenery and plenty of climbing. It’s nearly impossible to get lost on this out-and-back route but thanks to Aaron Chancey for the GPS route below. Hope you make it! Andrew. 740.215.5863.
First off, I will continue to post Ohio ride opportunities. So you may as well check back end of each week for that alone. Secondly, I will post hiking reports having some very cool images, beginning probably this Sunday or Monday. There will also be some riding and although I have a Trek Madone out there, the fit is different so I may ship my OH bike out there. Still motivated to ride. It's been a different season since for the first time in memory, I did not get burned out by early summer. I just kept plodding along and enjoyed the group rides and many of you, more then I let on. I'll be back some time in December so no, this is not a winter long escape.
Enjoyable evening at Mellow Mushroom. I took several pics inside but had to omit from the report because of goofy facial expressions or washed out from the camera flash. I know what you are thinking, I excel at promoting images having goofy facial expressions but I want to leave town on a good note for once. New arrival from California, Jason on the left with Peggy and Meredith,
Because I tied my low weight of the year this morning, I decided to splurge. As the pizza crusts piled on my plate, I was shot several incredulous looks by those around me. Hey, soon I will be very active and not confined by the cold, wind and rain as will too many of you. Actually, at the table were 3 others who are heading out of Ohio within the week, Marty, Andrew and Farmer Mike.
Marty, wearing multiple layers of clothing, still chilled from kite boarding earlier in the day.
It was like a Hollywood gala after the stars exit the auditorium. Farmer Mike, Peggy and Mike's wife Norma. Also in attendance were Don Novel, Aaron C, Sokha, Andrew, Flyin Tuna, Eleanor, Marty, Gus Cook, Jason and Meredith.
Tuesday, October 24th, 6:30pm at the Mellow Mushroom in NewAlbany, a season ending get together for those who participated in the Tuesday or Thursday Cycling Club rides. OK, if you wanted to ride but never attended either ride, you can come too. Arrive and see what some of us look like without wearing our cycling gear (scary) or brag about how you are spending the winter in Tasmania or, just arrive, have a beer/soft drink/tea/wine, pizza and enjoy the camaraderie. This is not a Cycling Club sponsored event, just cycling people enjoying each other as we have done countless times pre and post rides. See you there!
In the interest of full disclosure, some wanted to promote this as a "Mark Going to AZ" event but I am way too modest for that and besides, how could I turn down all the offers of a free drink and still drive? So, it is officially a cycling get together but I won't turn down the first 8-10 drink offers. I am polite.
Approximately 11 of us gather for a ride out of Granville, 57 miles but my plan was to bug out and hit the market in Hanover at some point. John on the left, Beau and Jim. Beau and wife are departing Ohio for good, headed to CA I think.
Four of us, Sandy D, Beau, Jim and me, get away after the Jones Road climb, regroup then get away again and soon are steaming north and into Newark. I had a Garmin issue and pulled off to fix and amazingly, did so while the group was stopped at a light and thus able to rejoin. Jim had a flat on Dayton Road so I left the protective cocoon of the group and rolled into...
....Hanover. Soon, I was joined by Keith, John & Anthony Sada. We snacked and then they headed one way, me another that took me through that neat tunnel to the south of Hanover. I kept losing the satellite signal and while turning the unit off and on a few times, forgot to turn it on but finished with around 33 miles.
We gather for a cold start to following the 70 mile FallnLeaf route. Eva in blue, stylishly dressed as always.
Caution! If you don't enjoy scenes of idyllic country side with far reaching views, read no farther and never ride this route. Awesome. Larry P in front on the right. As usual, he was in front a lot, sometimes on the right, sometimes on the left but in front.
At about mile 15, we enter Malabar Farms Park. Wow an active place for sure. Wedding gatherings, horseback riders, ......
....weird looking trees, a place worth a visit.
Eric pulls away from me, something he does frequently. Today a ride in Ohio, tomorrow he would be in Tucson, AZ. Too bad he heads back to OH on the day I arrive in AZ. Would have been fun to show him a hike or two.
I thought the quality of the painting was very good. So things were kind of weird in a nice way so far and then.....
....things became weirder as Kenda Paul headed off route to see what he could see from a nearby ridge. Unfortunately, Kenda Janet was beset with flu-like symptoms so she was unable to make the ride. Without her calming influence, Paul was let loose.
And there he goes, closing on the ridge and then it was decided, what the heck, may be a worthwhile view so.....
....3-4 of us pursued. Flyin Tuna on the left with, if not a 360 view, at least 291. Another week or two and the leaves should be perfect for viewing.
Paul kind of just kept going, riding through a field of clover. Well, can't hang out here forever so we coasted down the hill and rejoined the road. Eventually, Paul rejoined too.
Damn! What a beautiful day! We regrouped a few times but not too frequently as everyone was of similar ability.
Closing on Bellville and the return to "Der Dutchman" restaurant. Finished with 70 miles and 4000'+ of climbing. Fun time on Saturday. It was a long drive for pretty much everyone and thanks for coming out.
I heard a lot of good things about the recent FallnLeaf ride out of Bellville so it was suggested that we organize a group ride doing the 70 or 100 mile routes. 9:00am start from the Der Dutchman restaurant on 71/97. Most of us are doing the 70 mile route at a conversational B pace with a couple of regroups. All are welcome (except squirrelly cyclists) to join and then head out on a faster or slower pace. Now to address the elephant in the room.....many have asked when I am finally going to leave Ohio for a visit to AZ. Next week so while this news will be greeted with relief by some and sweet relief by all others, this will be your final opportunity to have your pic published on this blog. Come out and fight back the tears while riding.
And there he was, Grand Poobah, aka Todd Lee, out to join the crowd while telling us numerous stories of when he raced back in the helmetless days.
We convinced a couple of New Albanyers to abandon the flat lands and check out....the flat lands to the south. Took about 30 miles before we began hitting the hills but got to them eventually. Seemed like the turnout was down some but it could be many were waiting for a later start time for a warmer start. As it was, we shoved off with 52 degrees......
.....brrrrrrrr. There were 14 of us, Larry P, Eric, Janet & Paul, Dirty Dan, Rex, Sam, Jeff S, Eva, Todd, Don, Milt, Brent J and me. The first 30ish miles were flat and kind of boring but once we got south of Millersport, the rollers began to appear and soon, steeper things.
Mules! They were a bit standoffish but Eva rolled up to the fence and they scrambled to meet her. Wise mules or is it donkeys?
We got onto Boundries Road and that was fun, had about a 1/4 gravel section that was no problem at all as cars had impacted a relatively smooth path to follow, came through a section of Cujo country where dogs bayed and barked and then emerged on this nice road and soon....
....entered Bremen via a non traditional route. It was good and may be the first time I descended from that direction (see map below). We rolled up to the gas station/market at #37 and #664. The place was packed and at one point, a worker said they had never seen the line that long...maybe 20?
As it was noonish and at mile 52, we ate a variety of subs and sandwiches. Now, you can always tell when someone is ready to move on when they walk in with their helmet on....ok, Dan, we got the hint. We departed the official route to go west where we picked it back up at Lake and rode in from there, finishing with 79 miles and 3000+' of climbing. Good time and then some of us gathered around the Kenda SUV where I spotted....
....Janet's bike clothing bag. Only she would use a VS bag to store sweaty cycling clothing.
Some people wanted something less than 100 but more than 65 so I came up with this route, 75 miles: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/26115074 It cuts off the lower loop which is rather hilly. Off season pace although if you want to join in and ride faster. have at it. Departs the official route in Bremen at mile 51.
Saturday, beginning from Bloom Carroll High School in Carroll, OH is the Fall Heart of Ohio Tour or otherwise known as "HOOT". Most will roll out at 8:00am, following one of the routes (102, 65 or 33 miles) below. This event is hosted by COP with a fee of $5 or $10 depending on if you are a member, or not.
And so my cycling buddies, the end of a season that was way too short is upon us. We are on the cusp of the final event of the 2017 The Cycling Club's Thursday rides. The good news is, there will be a 2018 season with some needed changes and I'll have more on that later. Kind of meloncholy to not be part of the parking lot scene for a long, long time during which we must endure cold, winds, snow, ice and more cold. Brutal stuff to be sure but hey! We have survived it before and so we will do so again!!! 5:30pm start following the below routes:
Dawn in Wellston, OH, a place far, far away from the roads we usually ride. I was here for "Mark's Fall Challenge" an event that kept alive the tradition of COP's "Columbus Fall Challenge" although it is a one day rather than a two day event. Distance options were 80 and 100 miles. Still mending a calf injury I chose the 80 mile option. I know how my calf feels at the 80 mile distance and don't want to know what it would feel like at 100 miles. Let's pick up the story.....
....at mile 2 where my fellow 80 milers, Janet and Brent, are waiting for the 100 milers to emerge from a 5 mile loop where we would rejoin them for approximately 55 miles of the 100 mile route prior to breaking ranks permanently. After a few minutes, here they came....
....led by who some are now calling "The Iron Lady". I kind of like that name but she might think it disparaging so I'll stick with Flyin Tuna. Same with Andrew on the right wearing a winter jacket. I kind of like the name "Lizard" referencing the cold blooded nature of the reptile but there too, I don't want to have to explain the meaning behind the name all the time so I'll stick with "Andrew". Soon, one of many highlights to the route appears.....
....a junkyard, the contents of which have crept to the edge of the road. The owner must be waiting for commodity prices to skyrocket before selling the aluminum, copper, etc... The image does not do justice to the length of the yard and no, no fence to block the view. Really kind of cool to ride through a tunnel of junk.
Ben in the middle, recently rode across the US with Brent, Eric and Andrew in front. We regrouped several times as today's pace was "Conversational B" given the 11 participants.
There was a whole lotta of this going on, riding while glancing to the right or left to see....
.....far reaching views. While there were many highlights to the trip, probably my favorite was a stop at....
....Four Mile Bakery. Wow!!!!! I consumed a hot dog but passed on the doughnuts which were fresh and warm. People kept walking by with boxes of doughnuts and I reached my breaking point. I loudly stated, "Every time someone walks by with a box of doughnuts I wish they would think to offer me one." Just then, a woman spun around, opened a box and offered me a glazed doughnut. I pretended to have been kidding but with some minor cajoling, I tore a piece and she then offered the remainder to Ben. Meantime......
.....a cat appeared and Brent demonstrated his tender side, as did we all so the cat received plenty of scratching. In the background, Cindy appears and after I told her of the doughnut acquisition scheme, she did everything but call me a liar. I had to rely on several eyewitness accounts to convince her I did not have to buy the doughnut I was at the time eating. We got back on our bikes and continued.....
....through "Cujo Country". The per capita dog population must set some kind of record in this county. They were every where or heard every where but fortunately, Mark has ridden the roads many times, sprayed the dogs many times so now they just bark and watch rather than chase, usually.
More variety in what we saw.
And more idyllic country scenery. In addition to the views, there was plenty of climbing and at the top of one climb, Andrew or Frank Seebode caught.....
...outside Chris Horner, the only other cyclist who is still smiling at the top of every climb. The rest of us have a look of anguish on our faces. So, I finished with 80 miles and 4700' of climbing while the 100 milers finished with 6900' of climbing. Big thanks to Andrew and Frank for providing some of the images used in this report.
Mark's Fall Challenge is a road bicycle tour of southern Ohio beginning and ending in Wellston, Ohio. MFC will begin at 8 am on October 7th from Mark's house at 2118 Finley Chapel Road in Wellston. This will be a scenic road bike tour that will travel through Jackson and Gallia Counties this year. The scenery is great and the road conditions are good overall. As with any bike tour you do need to watch out for potholes and bumps in the road in certain places so be careful. The distance is 100 or 80 miles. The route is hilly with around 5700 feet of elevation gain. There are also places to cut off miles and hills as well. Both the 80 and 100 routes are marked. There will be places to purchase food and drinks along the way. This is a free event, however donations will be accepted to cover the cost of SAG provided by the Wellston Church of the Nazarene. You are welcome to bring food and drinks for the SAG to carry which will meet us at designated points. At one point in Gallia County there is a natural spring where you can fill up your bottles with ice cold spring water.
Be aware that by participating you assume all liability for your own well being. This tour is not OFFICIALLY sponsored by any organization or individual. We are just a group of riders who enjoy riding and realize we are responsible for our own safety.
Probably there will be an option out of New Albany and once I learn of it I will post it here.
Headed northeast on a solo ride, beautiful day of sun and warmth while passing fields busy with activity. Went through Granville and then west and back east to.....
....Utica where, following the example set by Kenda Janet, Marty and Cindy, decided it is hard to beat a PB&J sandwich for an energy boost.
I headed out via Blacksnake but prior to reaching Martinsburg Road, made a right on to Stout Road. Seldom on this one but it is a good option going south rather than Martinsburg. Good climb on there too. Had to pay attention to the roads as there were.....
....hundreds of walnuts avoided over the 63 mile route. Actually, the above is from my driveway so I need to get busy clearing them.
Saturday ride option is coming although it's a drive to get there.
It's not over yet New Albaniers!!! 5:30pm start for the below routes. Please note that with sunset at 7:09pm, well, choose your route and group very, very carefully. And how about this concept!?!?! Don't drop someone at the point farthest from the finish. Look out for your fellow cyclist and be civil for one week out of the season...except the Riveters who are ruthless and cruel but that is to be expected. The routes:
I could not access the C route so will add later.
Mark is a long-time cyclist who enjoys poking fun at himself but most especially at his friends. No nicknames or comments are intended to offend, accept them in the humor they are intended.