This has already been a great week for cycling. After a fun day in the kayak on Saturday, (link photos from previous week)
Sunday was a stellar repeat of the Barrett Garrison Loop from Two Rivers. Riding from NLR, it makes for a nice 60 miler with about 4000 feet of climbing.
Monday turned out to be a pretty hard ride with Charlie R., Bob P., Jonny M. and Co.
Tuesday, we knocked off a couple of hills I had not ridden before (Southwind :Over the ridge behind Summit Church on Crystal Hill to Young Road and back. Not as hard as I thought it'd be, but a couple of steepies!).
Today, I had to go to Evening Shade on business. I have a client in Batesville who rides and I've threatened for the last couple of years to join his group ride. Today, it came together, at least for me.My friend, Steve, just got back from a week on the beach with a souvenir case of bronchitis, which cut his ride short. We met at one of the guys' home west of Batesville on Highway 69 and took a loop northwest toward Cushman, then south to Bethesda and back to the house for cold beer (I passed. Driving and all.) I've driven that country quite a bit over the years and I've always been impressed, but the ride was breathtakingly beautiful! Much of it was on little-traveled two-lane through rolling hills, spring creeks, woods and cattle pastures. As I think about it, I just realized something else that is really remarkable: it was unlittered. The few drivers that passed were very friendly, as the route has been used by this small group of riders for many years and the drivers are accustomed to them. That says something for the manners and attitudes both of the riders and the drivers.
I didn't know what to expect going into the ride. I was a little concerned that these hill-country riders would tear my legs off, however, they were a friendly and casual group of good friends, with our host being a robust and congenial 69-year old. We talked about getting started cycling and he pointed out his number from the 1981 Boston marathon (time 3:07) among the memorabilia on the wall. His story "I loved running, but started riding dirt bikes, tore up my knee in a crash. I had surgery in Little Rock and the doctor said, 'no more distance running.' On the way home from the hospital, I stopped by a bike shop in my cast and bought a bike. Been riding since." This was not a hammerfest, but even at a pleasurable pace, our little group of seven broke up, though nobody seemed to think anything about it. They all eventually wandered in and headed to the 'fridge for a brew. The house is on 30-40 rolling green acres and there is a swimming pool, which I understood to be stop number two after the refrigerator stop on hot summer ride days.
I had a couple of minor revelations:
This part of the state could be a riding destination. The hills are rolling, the scenery is beautiful and pristine, and the traffic is light and friendly. The one stretch of busier highway that we did had a wide, clean shoulder.
It was nice to see riding from a slightly different, completely laid back perspective. Nobody really pushed, yet some of the guys just drifted off to enjoy their own pace. I'm sure that they compete and push each other just like the rest of us, but today it was just the pleasure of the ride.