This ride took a little over 2 hours, with several breaks every 6-10 miles. By far this is the most difficult ride I've done to date. We're working toward a 40 mile ride in October.
We started at 7:45 this morning, heading out of our neighborhood. There's a pretty rock fountain area on the way out Anderson Mill Road.
5 fairly easy miles, with wide and clear shoulders most of the way. Part of the way we had a shoulder that was as wide as a car lane. It's always nice to ride side by side and not worry about cars. We were passed by two other cyclists on this stretch, but they turned off soon.
Making a left onto Lime Ranch Road, we begin the two lane curvy hilly country road. You'd never know you were just a few miles outside of town.
Soon (at mile 6) we began our decent into the valley. This decent goes from 1088 ft above sea level to 748 ft above sea level in 1.8 miles. 340 foot drop. This is the steepest decent we've ridden to date. It was a bit scary! They cruves made it fun, if a bit more technical than we're used to. It was a good, fun challenge. When we arrived at the bottom, the sinking feeling of "oh crap, now we have to climb back out of this eventually" sank in. But I pushed that thought out of my mind and vastly enjoyed the rolling winding hills.
Photo-op on the way to Sandy Park:
We arrived at Sandy park and were greeted by 3 deer.
OK, they didn't actually greet us. More like we startled them and interrupted their grazing. But they were beautiful. I tried to get closer for a better picture, but they ran.
The bathrooms here weren't bad for county park bathrooms. They were clean. I couldn't ask for more really. So we stopped, had a snack, lost a pair of sunglasses (not mine), hunted around till we found them (yay) and headed back on the road. There are also water fountains there, but we had 5 water bottles between us, so decided not to top off our chilly bottles with the warm water.
This was my favorite part of the ride. Short, fairly steep hills, with sharp turns. We saw several motorcycles coming the opposite direction. I bet they love this road. We also saw several other cyclists along the way.
Around mile 18 there is a little mom and pop type store. Looks like if we timed it right to arrive at lunch time, it would be a great place to stop. They were closed on a Sunday morning, though. They do have coke machines outside for 24 hour use. This is directly across from the Volente Volunteer Fire Department.
We stopped here for a few minutes, drank and ate a little bit, swapped out our water bottles knowing what was ahead. Remembering that I picked this route, thought it would be good timing to remind my husband that a divorce would be messy...
Time to climb back out of the valley.
According to the Garmin, at mile 18.6 we were at 654 ft above sea level. By mile 21.7 we had climbed to 1015 ft. 360 feet of climbing in 3 miles. Perhaps this is nothing exciting for advanced cyclists. But we just started riding 3 months ago. It nearly kicked our ass. Granny gears were used. New max heart rates were seen. I was honestly more afraid that I would fall (due to the lack of sufficient forward motion) than I was that I would lack the strength to make it up. 4 MPH on a bike isn't fun. I can walk faster than that.
It started off innocently, with a nice view, followed by a pretty tree covered road. The shade and cool temps were nice.
This is looking back at the hill we just climbed out of:
At mile 21 I was elated to turn back onto Anderson Mill. Not that it wasn't uphill, still, it was, but at least I knew I was ALMOST there. I knew I could make it. I considered the possibility that I could be "bonking" and running out of energy, but I had snacked twice (240 + 100 cal), drank a full bottle of G2, and 1.5 bottles of water. I don't think I was bonking, I think I just reached my physical limit. I was still riding, but I certainly wasn't going very fast. This was a mental challenge more than anything. Just keep moving forward. I focused on my pedal stroke and concentrated on pulling up on the pedals to help my quads out. They were pooped. Done for. Finito. Organizing a strike very soon, I'm sure.
But then, just then, over the crest of the hill, I saw it.
(Insert heavenly angel music here)
I've never been so glad to see a 7-11 in my life. This meant we were back at Anderson Mill and RR 620, and were truly on the home stretch. I felt like whooping out loud. I considered a finish line pose, but with my wobbly legs, no doubt I would have fallen over. So we stopped for a few minutes to catch our breath.
My dead legs:
2 more miles to go -- this seemed like a breeze compared to the previous terrain. Flat, smooth bike lane.
Home, sweet home. 24 miles (plus the bit where my husband forgot to press start again....), 2 hours 21 minutes.
Then my husband mowed the yard.... show off....
Time for a nap!
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