Took the bike along for a short trip to visit my folks, and got a chance to take it out for a short gravel ride late one afternoon.
My parents live on a farm in Lafayette County, MO, just south of the Missouri River in the west-central part of the state. Located on the southern bluffs of the river, the country is lush farmland, flat-to-rolling in places, but rougher as you approach the river.
My ride took me east through the tiny town of Dover, north on MO Route P, then onto gravel for the hilly backroads journey to the even-tinier town of Hodge, situated on the edge of the bluffs and the river floodplain.
This photo shows the intersection of Edwards Mills Road and Hodge Road, and you can see how the road just kind of drops away and disappears. It was like that the rest of the way into Hodge, with some steep downhills punctuated by some shorter, but equally-steep uphills, before the road crossed the railroad tracks at the foot of the bluffs, and followed the tracks for a half mile or so east.
The road then turned into a paved road as it passed through the village of Hodge, then a long climb, up the bluffs. The road was twisty and fairly steep, but not unmanageable, and it was uphill for about two miles, until I emerged on the top of a ridge, and was able to take a gravel road back west.
There were some good views to be had, but most of them were obscured by the trees and brush lining the road. This is one representative shot, showing a recently-mowed and lightly-traveled road running along a ridge.
After a short westward jog, the route then headed predominantly southward, and the land smoothed out a bit, and became far richer. I like the photo above, taken just south and east of Dover, showing the hills, a winding road, green, yellow, and brown soybeans, bright green grass, and golden brown corn ready for harvest.
I like this shot as well, as I’m a sucker for old, dilapidated buildings, and this rusted-and-worn old barn fit in perfectly with the ripened corn.
After riding about five miles south, I headed back west for a few miles, then north again. This old Walnut tree was situated at the crest of a small rise, with falling nuts littering the road, and my bike nestled in the deep shadows beneath it.
It was good to ride some of the old roads I remember from my youth, seeing them from the saddle of a bicycle bringing a fresh perspective to familiar landscapes.