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June 14, 2015

outside of Jackson, Ohio

I've worked up to doing a bit longer bike ride so I joined the Ashland Bicycle Enthusiasts (otherwise known as ACE) for one of their "featured ride".  This one was hosted by some Southern Ohio bicyclists and started in the Minford, Ohio area and cycled over toward Jackson.  Our midpoint, and first rest stop, was the Four Mile Bakery & General Store, a place that we generally just called "the amish donut shop".   The ride was divided into two groups, a slower group and a faster group.  After some discussion, I unfortunately figured out that I had a fitness level that fell between the two.  I made quick friends with a nice fellow named Clyde who drove probably a couple hours from Eastern Kentucky and he had similar reservations, so I proposed that we just stick together with the fast group and see what happens.  He agreed.

So off we went.  The scenery was spectacular for the entire 45 mile ride.  In the beginning, the road was pretty flat and we sped along at a good clip.  I am a previous biker from earlier stages of my life, so I know things that can help out wihen your fitness is a bit lacking,  like how to handle the gears, how to spin quickly, and how to safely draft another rider to catch your breath.  So Clyde and I did well until we reached the first good sized hill.  There is no way to cheat a hill, gravity takes its toll.  We did well, though, falling back on each hill in proportion to the number of feet we had to climb.  The group was great, sometimes a faster rider would drop back to check on us, sometimes to give us a "pull", just like you see on the Nascar races.  You can't underestimate how much a rider can rest up in the draft of a fast rider, all the while gaining ground and catching up with the main group.  So, we continued to enjoy the ride even when I felt like my lungs might explode.

About the midpoint, we arrived at the bakery.  I couldn't help but notice that faces of the riders who have done this for awhile.  Looking refreshed with little sweat.  When my turn came to the restroom, I looked in the mirror and thought "Good lord, what have I done."  Red faced with streams of sweat pouring off.  After cleaning up some, I found these famous Amish donuts that are big as saucers and as fresh as if they just came from the fryer.  I quickly downed one of those and two bottles of Gatoraid and all was right with the world once again.  I have to say these donuts were great, they happened to be very similar to the ones I've purchased at Spauldings Bakery in Lexington, Kentucky (a stop we once made on a Saturday morning photo outing with Mike Adkins and Dennis Adkins).

We waited awhile for the slower group to show and when they did, I noticed their faces looked much like mine. Clearly we are in need of more training, but Clyde and I decided to stick with the faster group and see what happens.

Then the rain started.  Now that might sound like trouble but I know from my earlier years that I don't mind biking in the rain.  My wife and I once spent 10 days on bicycles and experienced all weather, blistering heat, rain, then freezing rain, then snow.  All in all, a nice rain can be pleasant.  When the faster group took off, we were right with them and that is where today's shot was made.

Now the 2nd half of the trip was more eventful. First, we biked a fast clip down this beautiful flat road through some gorgeous farm land.  We worked as a group with little effort, going 16 to 20 mph.  At one point, we figured to be lost but a short stop to look at the map and cue sheet showed us to be on course and the turn off to be 5 miles ahead.  Now that turn off ended up a bit of a problem for Clyde and I, for it was what riders call "rollers".  It is what it seems to be, struggle up one hill, roll down the other side, and right up another one.   It was beautiful farmland, a sight to see actually.  And I have to admit, I hope to return to this road in the future to build fitness, for I saw the group ahead of me go up these hills with manageable effort, not the exhaustion that I experienced.  But, still, it was a lot of fun.

Now the interesting part, we had left the rain behind us and the weather had turned out gorgeous with white fluffy clouds all around.  But in the background, the sky turned dark.  Then the rain started.  Then became heavier and heavier.  Then become what we call a gulley washer.  Clyde and I kept going, though we separated a bit.   At first the rain was like bathwater, then all of a sudden it was like someone turned off the hot water.  Motorcyclists often remark that automobile drivers miss the feel of the air, the feel of the rain, the scent of the woods.  As bad as a good rainstorm sounds, you do gain those experiences.  And it was fun.

We arrived back to the parking area, about 45 miles accomplished, having made new friends, hopefully improved my fitness,  and enjoyed what nature dishes out to us.  Here is an Instragram short video clip at the end of the ride.

(The exif is blank, so a bit of info about the shot.  I am using a GoPro and this is one frame of a short video clip, I intended to shoot stills but ended up with video clips because of pushing the wrong buttons while riding.  One thing I can say about the GoPro and the Samsung Galaxy phone, they withstand a good rainstorm very well with no damage.  Really nice equipment for outdoor activities, highly recommended.)