As much as I wanted to go somewhere to bike and take photos, I wasn't relishing the idea of a long car trip to get there, so I chose the closest place that I could think of : Babcock State Park. It's a little over an hour away, but the other places I want to go are 90+ minutes away, so this was my best choice for the day.
I didn't set an alarm because I knew I needed sleep, but I was still up around 8. Actually I woke up earlier than that, because my internal clock works really well on weekends, but 8 is when I decided I had had something approximating an appropriate amount of sleep. I managed to get my car packed up and get on the road before 9:30. When I got to Babcock a little over an hour later, it was gorgeous. It was tempting to take photos first, but I knew I needed to get the bike ride done before breakfast wore off and I got too hungry to survive a ride. So I only snapped a few photos, and then hopped on the bike.
I had mapped out two possible routes for myself. One was a 40 mile loop, the other was a 25 mile loop. I tried to talk myself into the 40 mile loop, but I haven't done a long ride in awhile, and I haven't done a long ride on this bike yet. The 40 mile loop had a few serious climbs on it, and the gearing on this bike is not so friendly for climbs. I am getting used to it, and I imagine it won't take too many weeks of consistent riding to adjust to it and be back to destroying climbs, but that might not happen until next spring. So, I decided to wimp out and do the shorter loop. I almost missed the turn, but I caught the numbers on the street name just in time and made the turn. A mile or so later, the road turned into gravel. A half mile earlier, I had had to outsprint a dog. I didn't want to turn around, because I figured it would still be waiting for me in the middle of the road. So I decided to be optimistic and hope that only a short stretch of the road was gravel, and that my bike would be able to handle the rocks without dumping me or flatting. I ended up riding my shiny new bike down that awful gravel and dirt road for another mile before giving up. I had to walk it over a few of the rougher sections. The road was getting narrower and rougher, and there was no sign of it turning back into pavement anytime soon. I realized that it was going to be many miles before I reached the road I was supposed to come out on, and that it was a terrible idea to risk most of those miles being gravel, so I gave up, turned around, and bumped and skidded my way back to pavement. I managed to outrun the dog again.
If I wasn't feeling up to the 40 mile loop before that adventure, I certainly wasn't up to it afterwards. So I just backtracked the way I had come, a short way on Rt. 31, then on Rt. 41. I took 41 back past the State Park until I hit Rt 60, at which point I had reached 19 miles. I turned around at 60, took a short detour through another part of the State Park, and then headed back to my car. I had parked halfway up a mountain. I felt stronger than expected for pretty much the entire ride until I hit the bottom of that mountain. Then I suddenly felt exhausted. But I kept on spinning. I reached the lake where I had parked at about 24.1 miles, and decided that not only was it silly to stop in the middle of a hill, but also that I should get at least 25 miles, so I continued up the hill. It was rough. I didn't know when the hill would end, and it seemed like it was going on forever. But I finally reached the top, which was also the end of the road. Then I got to coast back down the hill to my car.
I was very calorie-depleted by that point, so I changed into clean clothes quickly and then devoured my picnic lunch before getting to the photography part of my day. Since it was early afternoon, the sun was high and the light was terrible for photos. Add to that the fact that my eye and/or cameras seem to be lying to me about whether or not photos are in focus, and I didn't get very many good photos from today. But I got a few. And I was able to edit some of the less-good photos to make them at least look kind of cool.
All-in-all a fun day. Yet another adventure where things didn't go entirely according to plan, but that's what makes it an adventure, right? What matters in the end is that I had a good day and I made it home safe!