We awoke early to a sticky morning and cars and climbers all over the place. Patrick had a potential family commitment, so didn't want to hurry so much as to make steady progress towards our day. After a breakfast burrito courtesy of Linda's kitchen and one last sit in the deck chair we left amid many of the climbers also heading home, in many cases hours of driving.
Our first task was the descent of 52, which we also did last year, all 2 miles of descending glory. 52 never gets stupid steep here, so you can open things up and relaxed a bit in lieu of the bare-knuckle fear I get with steeper hills. So great, even this year on the knobbies. Saturday's route suggested we didn't need such textured tires. What would today's route look like?
The turn onto 1036 at the base of the 52 descent didn't provide much of a warm up. Instead it started at around 10% and then punched us in the gut with early slopes up to 20%. We were now fully loaded again, making things all the more ridiculous. Passing an Episcopal church camp, we cleared the first section only to find a little leveling and then more pitches in the 15% range. At the top we had cleared a roughly 1.4 mile climb, perhaps my personal longest climb ever. And steep. And loaded. The scenery, though, was becoming what was hope for: green hills, rocky topography, mist, craggy isolation. After a swift descent we hit gravel, this time how I had imagined our route presenting itself in sheer, abundant, isolated, beauty.
Somewhere about halfway through we passed an isolated homestead on our right, unfortunately during a lively descent which made picture taking prohibitive. In my mind I imagined the perfect getaway, hideaway, hermitage. 1036 tested us again with a shorter climb of around .5 mile and at some point turned a tight 90-degree left on an off-camber downhill. I had seen glimpses of, but finally took a picture of a Sheltowee Trace Trail marker, the Sheltowee turtle ascribed to famous Kentuckian Daniel Boone. We saw these markers a fair amount on yesterday's ride too, which is problematic. This implies that a significant portion of this area's trail is nothing more than road hikes, although this road was a fine one.
At some point, 1036 turned to pavement but still brought nice views along the creek valley. And then we turned upwards, with another 1+miles plenty stupid pitches, one listed at "31.4%". That's steep! At the top we rode the ridge northward and eastward, passing Fixer-Leeco and bringing us to the descent on 11; our efforts climbing KY11 on Friday provided us a 3-mile roll into RedRiverRockhouse for a closing breaking of the bread. I had some of the best pancakes ever, I'll have to say. I love me some pancakes, and, boy, were these fine. The staff and guests were even kind enough not to mention how repugnant my shorts were. I hadn't brought extras so rode in the same outer shorts all three days, through the rain and muck.
After lunch we spun the last 3 or so miles back to the parking lot. In that short time we: Climbed some more around Mill Creek Lake while being out of gas, Climbed the nasty little pitch into the parking lot, and finally, got Poured on yet again, a thorough soaking through and through the last couple miles and during the time loading the bikes, the ultimate ending to the theme of the weekend.
But a great weekend it was.