A couple of months ago, Alicia at Pedals and Pencils and I conspired to do a ride “together”, despite the fact that we live approximately 2000 miles apart. We first met online through involvement with Team Fatty, which is pretty awesome by itself. Elden’s Fat Cyclist blog is how I was first introduced to Twin Six: Alternative Cycling Apparel, a super-awesome company that has become my absolute favorite source for cycling clothes. That’s saying a lot, too, since I (ahem) own quite a few jerseys.
Alicia and I decided to do this ride “together” with several stipulations. Since it was The Masher ride, we of course would wear The Masher jerseys, and ride on the same day, at approximately the same time. We also agreed to link to each others blogs, although I must admit that Alicia is a more eloquent writer than I am. Twenty-five miles, snapping photos every five miles, in all our matchy-matchy goodness. You have to admit, The Masher is pretty awesome in all its stripey wonder…
Of course, yesterday I found the perfect pin to go with this photo of me, but it’s a little late…
But I digress. I did not have matchy-matchy socks to accompany my jersey, so I improvised.
I thought they added the proper amount of sassiness to complement my jersey, even if they did look dorky with my white road shoes. Fully kitted, I was ready to ride.
The Interurban Trail/ Harrington Beach loop
Because there was road construction on the road I normally ride, I decided to do my favorite easy ride instead. I was originally planning to do a challenging ride, but wimped out at the last minute, and rode the interurban trail instead. The trail is mostly flat, so I took a little detour to Harrington Beach, a lovely state park on Lake Michigan. There were a few hills, and plenty of good scenery to add some interest to my ride.
I started off from a parking lot in the next town over, so the beginning of my ride wasn’t very exciting:
The trail runs through farmland and is fairly open, and on a windy day the riding can be tough despite the flat terrain. I have ridden in winds that have nearly knocked me off the trail. This day was just slightly breezy, which was welcome due to the humidity. After a few miles, I left the trail, and rode on a deserted road toward the beach. My five mile stop overlooked a farmer’s field, as well as the interstate:
Not terribly exciting, but it was very peaceful. The next five miles were more interesting, as they were on a road that I had never ridden. I stopped before five miles to take a photo of something Alicia probably didn’t see.
I made a short detour to the lake before I got to the state park, just because it was pretty, and there was a great hill to cruise down (and climb on the way back)
From here, I continued to the state park, which has a super-duper amazingly annoying road with seams every ten feet or so from concrete under the pavement. The ride down the road went ka-chunk, pedal some, ka-chunk, pedal a little more, ka-chunk, and so on. I felt like my teeth were going to be rattled out of my head! The ride through the woods was pretty, despite the miserable road
I was lazy when I got down to the parking lot. I didn’t even walk down to the beach, just made a quick loop and headed back up the bumpy road. I hit the ten mile mark on the way out of the park, in a really boring stretch, so I also took photos of the trees and sky at that point. It was a pretty day, after all!
From here it was back out to the trail, and north for a little while. Being the science geek that I am, I had to stop and check out this little guy:
I also tried to take a photo of a garter snake that was sunning itself in the middle of the trail, but by the time I got back to him, he slithered away.
Mile fifteen happened to fall at one of my favorite points along the trail. There is a wildlife preservation area that contains a wetland right along the trail, and I almost always see or hear interesting birds in the area.
As much as I enjoy riding the trail, at this point I was beginning to resent the road construction that prevented my from riding my usual route. The one positive note was that I was cruising along at a fairly good pace (for me. I believe I have already established that I am not particularly fast, and another post in the works will only reinforce that!). Mile twenty came up quickly, and this was the one stop I was quick to leave…
It wasn’t the sound of the trucks, although they were loud. It wasn’t the smell of diesel, although I don’t care for that either. It was the fact that there is a sewage treatment area right after this factory. Blech. I always rush through this part of the ride.
Shortly after mile twenty, I was saved by an unknowing stranger. I was bored and thinking about what a dull write-up this would be. Until… a fellow cyclist came up behind me, said the usual courteous, “On your left,” and pulled up alongside me. He was friendly, and talked to me for a minute or so before pulling ahead of me. I decided that I was going to at least attempt to keep him in my sight for as long as possible. Awesome. I am nothing if not stubborn and determined.
There are occasional stops along the trail, where the trail crosses various roads. At the first one, he glanced from side to side to check traffic, and must have seen me out of the corner of his eye. I noticed his look of surprise, but we weren’t that far beyond where he had passed me, so he must have dismissed it as chance. I was not riding on his wheel, but I was only a few meters behind him. As we progressed through several more stops, I noticed that he glanced back a few times, because he couldn’t seem to lose me. After about four miles of this, he began to speed up, and I finally slowed down and let go of the chase. I didn’t take a picture at mile twenty-five because I was too busy keeping him in my sight.
So thank you to the unknowing stranger who helped me finish my ride in proper fashion. See, I was riding in high gear, at a relatively low cadence…
I ended my ride with a smile, thinking of Alicia riding in California, and looking forward to hearing about her ride. What’s a couple thousand miles between friends?