I've been wanting to take some time off of work for a 50 miler for a while now and it finally came to fruition last week. There's lots of roads, rivers, lakes and nature preserves near my house that I've wanted to explore for a long time and I finally took the initiative. Most trips out my door head west. This one was south. And it was beautiful.
Just south of my house is Camp Nelson Cemetery. It's always worth a quick spin through, some contemplation and a prayer.
I planned 40 miles with the hopes of 50. But I wanted to give myself the wiggle room to explore random roads that I encountered in person. Sometimes roads on a map won't represent how awesome they are when you pass them at 14mph and I wanted to give myself an opportunity to ride those. The photo above is a small example. It was closed off and completely covered with debris. But was a great road for weaving in and out of trees and exploring.
I meandered through farm country and became eye candy for the longhorns for the first 15 miles or so but soon encountered my first major route change. I neglected to take a photo in the moment, unfortunately. But one of the gravel roads I was one for a half mile eventually ended with a menacing gate. Although marked publicly on the map, it was a private road and it's inaccessibility meant that I was going to have to ride a good six or seven miles out of my plan to get where I wanted to go.
Not a nuisance, though. That is exactly why I mapped fewer miles than I actually wanted to ride.
After my reroute, I made my way to Kennedy Bridge on Herrington Lake. Herrington was my family's vacation spot when I was a kid. So pedaling over it was one of the highlights of this ride. Having lived close to Herrington for nine years now, I've never actually laid eyes on it since I was a kid. So it drummed up some fun memories.
After Herrington was miles and miles of corn. Next stop, Burgin: A Friendly Little City. I sat here for a while and ate. At this point, I had climbed out of the river and climbed out of the lake and was a little pooped. But it was nothing that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich couldn't fix.
After Burgin is Shakertown.
Simplicity, donkeys, sheep. I'd never taken a peak into Shakertown before. It's quite quaint... and quiet. And from Shakertown, it's pretty much downhill back to the river.
Just before the river, though, there's a 175 year old church. Pretty spectacular, actually.
After Mt. Zion Church, I coasted for about three miles down to the river. Probably the most uplifting part of the whole ride. Super fast and fun through BEAUTIFUL trees and nature-scape. But after the river, it's all uphill from there.
As I mashed the pedals uphill, I found a little trail that shot off to the right of the road. I had the time and needed the break so I aimed the bars that way. A little gravel and dirt path led me to the photo above. Super cool tunnel in the middle of nowhere. Keep following the path and you'll hit a rope swing right into the river. I was very tempted to swing in for bit but I resisted. There was more climbing to do.
From there it was climbing, climbing and climbing. The three mile descent became a three mile climb on the other side. It was tough. Really tough. My ride was pretty much over but this last little bit toasted me before I made it back to my car. It's exactly how you want to feel when your ride is over. 49.9 miles. Couldn't have gone any better.