While I went out on a "hammer" ride today I did quite the opposite on Sunday. For me this is a great departure, but getting back to my cycling "roots". During the last year or so I have been out there on my bike riding hard and having a great time doing so, but some small part of me was missing the simple pleasures of just going off on a leisurely spin in the countryside without worrying about lactate thresholds, cadence, average speed, cyclometer watching, or any of that other stuff. I really felt like I needed to just go on an enjoyable ride.
Being a creature of habit I knew that this might be a hard thing to accomplish. I had to come up with some kind of plan that would force me to slow down (gasp!) and even stop (double-gasp!!!) when out riding. What I decided to do was to bring along a digital camera and stop and take pictures. I also needed to not have a plan ahead of time about what pictures to take or even where I would be riding. Knowing me I would turn such a ride into interval training from picture spot to picture spot. That just wouldn't do! The only plan I had in my head was that I would go south of town into the horse farm country just north of Ocala and pedal around there.
I started out going east out of Gainesville because that is the quickest way for me to get out of town. Eventually I reached the road that goes to Cross Creek and I turned south. I was shocked to find a lot of traffic on this road, but all was made clear later (see the other thread on smooooth pavement!). Cross Creek is "THE" Cross Creek made famous by Marjorie Rawlings. Her home and orange grove are still there and run by the State of Florida, but before getting to Cross Creek I turned off and headed a different direction.
I always like riding through Evinston near the west shore of Orange Lake. They have a real general store/post office, but unfortunately they are not open on Sunday. I did stop and take a picture, though. There is also a picture of the road to Cross Creek and a couple of pictures involving Orange Lake. The road through Evinston is very nice to ride very early in the morning in the dead of winter. The sandhill cranes like to congregate in the fields just outside of town and if you hit it just after sunrise you can see and hear thousands of sandhill cranes getting ready to disperse for the day. It is really impressive.
A few miles down the road I turned onto what the old-timers call Dungarvin Road, but the soul-less bureaucrats that run Marion County have changed the name to NW 193rd Street. There is a typical picture along Dungarvin Road below as well as a picture of a stable at a horse farm. I should live so well!
After Dungarvin Road I turned left and went through Flemington into the heart of the horse farm country. I took some pictures down there but most of them didn't turn out very well or are too big to upload onto the BF site. The one named County225A.8.6.06.jpg shows a typical piece of road down there in "flat" Florida.
After much "noodling" around in the horse farm country, a stop (gasp!) at a convenience store for an ice-cold Coke, and back up to Flemington where I stop again (what's up with all this stopping?) to refill my water bottles and sit in the shade of a tree and enjoy the morning.
Before I get completely stiff and relaxed (how is THAT possible?) I hop on my bike and make the short jaunt up to the quaint town of Micanopy. Micanopy is REALLY old. It is St. Augustine kind of old (take that, you johnny-come-lately English settlement types!), but none of the original structures remain. A couple of Hollywood movies have used Micanopy for location shots. I've included one picture of a building where a friend of mine used to live. There is a thriving antique business community in Micanopy, so the "cuteness" factor has really been ramped up in recent years.
After enjoying Micanopy I wandered back over to the east side of town and home. On the way I stopped and composed the "art" shot of my helmet, gloves, glasses and sweat band.
So I get home about 11:30 am after logging 77 miles at 18 mph average in saddle time, but only a bit over 16 mph average in running clock time. See, old habits die hard. I just had to peek at the cyclometer and get those numbers.