Background: Three weekday mornings per week I meet my riding chum for our routine cruise on the local MUP. These rides range pretty much from 16 to 30 miles (depending on how we feel and wind conditions) and are mostly “point and pedal” cruises, as our MUP is more-or-less straight and relatively flat. You can go for miles using no more than two or three gears. (In case of big wind there is a big park on our route where you can duck in and do big loops without being ground to pieces.) And so it comes to pass that on weekends I am on my own to ride, and I sometimes seek more diverse riding environments for these solos.
Saturday November 29th: After a light freezing drizzle much of Friday night and Saturday morning, this grey day dawned with little promise for an enjoyable, much less comfortable ride. Nonetheless, about 11:30am I resolutely packed up “Ole Lightning” [the Sequoia] and headed about 20 minutes west to an area park that has a big lake with a 6 mile paved trail around it. The trail winds through some nice woodsy areas with the occasional bench and a picnic area or two. I do not normally go to this place due to high pedestrian traffic on the trail and the number of turns and elevation changes… it makes for constant gear changes and speeding up and slowing down, which is not my normal riding style. The only straight and level stretch is the ride over the top of the dam. But I did recall that there were some smooth roads in the park too- and these roads even had some modest hills to climb that might be challenging and good for my conditioning.
I entered the park and took some time to drive around and explore. I finally drove uphill to a big but totally empty picnic area/parking lot and was able to see for miles with the lake and its trail below. It would be a modest climb (not my strong point at all) to get back up there. The drizzle had stopped, leaving the road and trail surfaces damp but not really wet. It must have warmed up to the high 30s or so and, for a change, there was no wind. (I would later see that there were some small frozen spots in the little backwaters and coves of the lake.)
To make a long story short, this unpromising day yielded my most enjoyable ride of the year. I had this huge area almost completely to myself, with nothing but peace and quiet… save for one encounter with a young unleashed German Shepard [he was more excited and curious than vicious and his owner did say “sorry”]. Not a drop of rain fell. I was perfectly comfy after my first lap of the lake warmed me up. I started to enjoy the gear changes and twists and turns on the lakeside trail. Two big flocks of Canada geese came in low in their V-shape formations above me honking to land on the lake… wow! I rode out on a fishing pier for a brief break and drink. On my second lap, I took some little detours off the trail and onto the beautifully smooth roads to see where they all went. To finish, I still had the climb back up the road to the picnic area and the car… which felt so good I turned around and, adding a couple miles to my ride, did it a second time. Total distance: 20 miles and change. Speed: below 13 mph. Experience: exceptional! Sometimes things just work out when you ride your bike.