Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mucho Mixed-Terrain

Mr. Crowell and I undertook a Vitamin G Mission yesterday in and around Ferdinand State Forest, as we have in before. Each time I come away humbled but ever hungry for more. It's got more gravel, more nature, more empty, more challenge, and more fresh (albeit humid and occasionally odoriferous) air than the rest of what is Kentuckiana. We've been doing some good mileage, and I needed the crunch of mixed-terrain to help focus the senses. What I came away with was struggle well-earned.

We started with a half-mile downhill which then became a half-mile uphill, all of which set the stage for a very jagged day on the bike. No, we don't have epic 1-hr Rockies climbs, but S.IN certainly does have plenty of mile-longish climbs to satisfy the craving.

This whop-dee-doo downhill early on was particularly fun on the fattie. The Mulkuk doesn't like to ascend, but not unlike during my snow adventures, it really, really likes to go downhill.

Along the double-track in the previous pic I saw a road-like entity going off through the field, and it was marked on my gps. We took it. By the time we crossed the ditch, as you can see, it got more "textured".

Fattie at Enlow Cemetery while Dave fixed a surprising flat.

Weird, abandoned house that shouldn't be.

Our run along Carlisle and Calvert through Siberia was particularly nice. We reveled in the low traffic and the mellower road conditions. Yes, we did have a couple climbs, but, no, they weren't as damn long. We hit Co.Rd.Chickadee and took a brief turn down FerdForestCoRd to find that the derelict bridge had been taken down to our chagrin (take at look at the Oct link from above for pics of the standing bridge- just barely). After that we climbed into Ferdinand State Forest for several miles of yet more gravel, but sheltered on both sides by nothing but forest, green, stillness with an occasional farm. Great stuff.  We suffered passing either a chicken or pig farm that filled the air with an acrid urine smell that followed us for at least a mile. Terrible.  We were further surprised to find a $2 entrance fee to FSF that I hadn't paid on previous trips. Damn gov'ment. We searched and find a very easy short-cut that bypassed the fee and even found a nice picnic spot next to the fire tower. That was the high point of the day. Get it? Funny!

At our picnic amid the fire tower we decided that the full 55-mile route wouldn't be a good idea. Simply stated, the climbing was kicking out butts and we doubted that the later miles would be fun. We found a couple alternates, one including our planned store stop in Birdseye, the other the most direct route back to the car. Leaving FSF we planned to make Birdseye and go from there. Our turn onto E 625 and then the flattish run along S Schnell was a real treat. Finally we weren't climbing like banshees (do banshees climb?), but we still had our gravel and trees. Mmm, good!

At some point we took a minor wrong turn and added a mile and change along easy roads, and at that point decided the most direct would be prudent. We just weren't strong enough for the conditions and wanted to finish with some semblance of pride.  The long climb along 710S was both challenging and delightful; it might have been my favorite road of the day.

C.Rd.710S, gravelled, forested goodness

Soon thereof, after bombing a downhill on my pillow tires past a fighting cock farm and passing a gigantic dairy operation we joined our original out route and from that point, we just moved our way home.We slowly "climbed" the 1-mile E Anderson Valley Rd. and then met October Rd again, which shows as a 2-mile acclivity. No wonder we were tired!!! At some point Dave got sort of sick to his stomach, but I was a bad ride friend and just kept pushing (slowly) towards the car. I needed the car.

To be fair, we just sort of crawled in to the car, bought some Gatorade, and skeedaddled.  I would go back tomorrow, in the rain.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Going the Distance

For the second weekend in a row, Mr. Crowell and I have stretched things out a bit. I've got the family camp solo hundy coming up and it would be nice not to die an ignominious death along that route, so our weekends have served as training rides. Today we did our Waterline Rd/Charlestown route, which is a popular, doable 50-miler. To tag on more suffering, we then added a loop to New Washington via Tunnel Mill and back along Chas-New Market and returned to the 'Ville with 75+ miles in hand.  Fact is, I challenge anyone to come up with a better local loop than that combo in the area. It has rollers, a few climbs, lots of empty farmland, and some open sky as well to let the soul soar. It's great, and it was today too.

On the out leg I battled some personal function issues and on the return we battled some heavy downpours, so you can't call it a blessed ride, I guess. It was one heck of a great way to spend the first half of a Sunday. I've been feeling pretty good on the bike, gaining fitness and confidence. Good stuff. And thanks to Mr. Crowell for the company.

Blueridge along a closed bridge. It did the job today as the rain bike.

Google auto-awesome-ing the other side of the bridge

Heavy clouds on our return along Utica Pike, just at the end of very heavy rain.

A well-earned post-ride salute, just before the street was busy with police cars visiting a cop car/drunk guy accident.

As a tag-on, I saw a few nice avians today:

Little Blue Heron **a first for me
Red-headed Woodpecker
Indigo Bunting
Red-tailed Hawk- leering from an electric wire. Didn't flinch.
Lots of LBJs
LOTS of Mourning Doves
Wild Turkeys- in somebody's yard


Friday, August 01, 2014

July's happy ending

I ended July with just a shade over 500 miles, which was *easily* the mileage month of the year. I actually had some opportunities to go for more, but things just didn't click.

One reason was that this past Tuesday, instead of hammering out miles, I did a ride with "no achievements", which will please Pondero to no end. Actually that's a bit of a lie in that I saw some nice birds, and maybe a couple new ones for me. 

 Looks to me like a juvenile Great Blue Heron instead of a rugged old man. I could be wrong.

 Black-crowned Night Heron. He and the GB fellow were within 10 feet of each other, which I deem as somewhat rare. How do you like that floating trash there?

 Turtles, ever popular along the Beargrass Trail

To not be too speciest, I threw in some fauna to balance out the avians. 

 This is a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron at Caperton Swamp.  I can't remember a trip where I saw all three on the same day.

This is a nasty, pasty looking snake curled up on that branch. This is using the telephoto feature at a distance of probably 40 yards. Eww. No me gusta.

19.5 miles on Seafoam

And the full list:

Downy Woodpecker
Tufted Titmouse
WB Nuthatch
Carolina Chickadees
-Beargrass Trail:
Belted Kingfisher
Great Blue Heron
Black-Crowned Night Heron- herons quite close to each other, strange
Mallard duck or Black Duck- didn't know they were so similar
Wood duck
Catbird- munching berries

Barn swallow
Cliff swallow
Great crested flycatcher- apparently pretty common, but only second sighting for me

Baltimore Oriole
Carolina Wren
Indigo Bunting
WB Nuthatch
Kingbird- haven't seen there
House Wren
Kingfisher- pissed as usual
underbrush Hawk- juvenile Cooper's my guess
Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher
Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron
**Willow Flycatcher- I'm not writing it down, but I'm 80% sure this was a 1st for me. Tiny little bird.
**2 more LBJs- Flycatcher types and 2 or more sparrows I was too lazy to try to ID. Chipping or Song takes care of most.

FS Bridgestone RB-1-DONATED

*Donated to a young bike-hungry friend. Good luck!* And to acquaint yourself with the Cult of the RB-1: