The morning was warm and hazy, the air heavy with humidity as I rode the short stretch of gravel over to Gardner and hooked up with 9Toes for his birthday ride. After confabbing briefly at his place, we took off, rolling through town on 183rd and then onto gravel, stopping for a quick look at the new signboards at the Gardner Junction, a small park on US-56, located at the point where the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails separated, with the former heading southwest, and the latter northwest.
We took 183rd on west to Dillie Road, then north four more miles on gravel, maintaining a pretty strong pace. Two-and-a-half miles on blacktop brought us to 135th and Spoon Creek Road, where the road once again turned to gravel.
The next two miles were new to me, as I’d never ridden that part of Spoon Creek Road, or the subsequent mile on 127th. It was a nice route, past horse farms and big estates, then downhill and over Kill Creek, where we stopped for a bit on the bridge to observe the clear, slow-flowing water below us. The next little section featured a nice long curving climb, and then we were on Homestead heading north to Kill Creek Park.
At the park, we hit the mountain bike trails. I’ve ridden these trails several times, but it had been over two months since I’d been there, and the singletrack felt a lot different, with the trees and woodland lusher than it had been in May.
We’d had rain the day before, so the trails were slightly tacky — not muddy, but just moist enough to provide excellent traction without kicking up a bunch of dust.
I’m still pretty unskilled when it comes to singletrack, and though I never crashed, I dabbed several times, whacked a tree with the handlebars once, and had to stop and waddle through a couple of rocky sections where I lost my momentum.
With the high humidity and the trees blocking the wind, it got pretty sticky back in the woods, and when we emerged from the 4 miles or so of trails, I was soaked with sweat. A short spin on the paved trails back to the trailhead, and then a bit further to the little lake, where we had a bite to eat, filled up the water bottles, and sat on the dock looking at the water for a bit.
But eventually it was time to get moving again so we pushed off, up and down the big hills on Homestead, back to 135th, over to Gardner Road (along with a couple incidents with reckless drivers), south to Gardner Lake and across the dam, then the final few miles to drop 9Toes off at home, then a few more back to my place.
I got home with 41+ miles at an overall 13.5 MPH pace (including the singletrack). The trail beat me up a fair amount, but I still felt decent at the end, other than being soaked with sweat.
A quick shower fixed that, and a bit later a storm moved in, the skies opened up, and the rain cooled things off and knocked a bit of of that wicked mugginess out the air.
A good ride. A good day.