I haven't been riding the past few years. I don't have any good excuses but I do have a few bad ones. Last year I built up a lot of my old bikes and started riding. I wrenched more than I rode though; this year, I plan on riding more than I wrench, . I'm lucky as there is a really killer MUP that I can pick up near the front door of my house. It is a ride that goes from Des Moines to Big Creek State Park. Here is some info on the trail: Iowa Trails home page.
The ride is mainly along the Des Moines River so there are good water views for almost the entire ride. There is one decent climb (not long but it is sort of steep); most of the ride has good rollers. Plus there aren't that many walkers or bike riders on the path which means you don't have to think about what other riders might (or might not do).
Today I rode the entire path which is right around 50 miles round trip. I haven't been on a ride longer than 30 miles for a few years so it felt good. I just rode within myself and stayed on top of my food intake. I averaged an exciting 13 mph, , and had a great time. I also made a point of stopping and talking to people along the way (including one guy on a killer Peugeot UO-8 that he had souped up with a forged crank and nice components). I like talking to people who have been riding their bikes for a long time; they always have a story or two to tell about their bike.
I'm not a great photographer so the pics won't show how pretty this ride is. I also tried out my new Jandd mountain wedge III. I used to never carry much junk on my bike since I figured if it didn't fit in a jersey pocket I didn't need it. Now I don't care anymore if I look like dweeb on my bike, . I want a camera, a rain coat (it was overcast for much of the day), some extra food, etc. I love Jandd gear. I've used it extensively biking and hiking. The mountain wedge holds a lot and didn't sway; it is a great, great seat bag if you want extra capacity but don't want to deal with a rack.
Oh yeah, I packed everything I needed but forgot my pump, . I got lucky though and the cycling gods didn't take it out on me. So here are the pics from the ride: