This Sunday the time changed, I got up “late”, but still got an early start. I wanted to see as much forest color as possible, and I headed for Shilo Road, first riding down newly paved Kerr Creek Road. It has smooth blacktop all along its 3 mile length, and I was able to ride down with no brakes. It is not that big a hill, falling about 100 feet on the main hill. (Stipp Road, my favorite downlhill, in contrast drops 180 feet, and I easily hit 40 mph on it.)
I turned left on Gettys Creek Road, and then took Mt. Gilead northwest to SR 46 near Unionville, and rode over to Tunnel Road. Although this route is longer than riding out 10th St. (SR 45), plus a good climb, the valley is really sweet and quiet with colorful ridges on either side. I took Tunnel to Shilo Rd., which to my surprise, is also newly paved! This is a ridge ride of 3.8 miles through the forests that overlook the Bean Blossom valley. Shilo Rd. drops into the valley, crosses the Bean Blossom, and ends on Anderson Road, which I took to Low Gap Road.
Low Gap runs north-south through the Morgan-Monroe Forest, rising out of the Bean Blossom valley and up over the ridge and then back down into the Indian Creek watershed southeast of Martinsville. As I passed the parking lot next to one of the forest trails, I saw a group of hikers, and a fully camouflaged bow hunter. At the top of the ridge, I took Orcutt Road to the west, riding “Safety Zone”, where hunting is disallowed. I love the cool beauty of this ridge, and I sometimes ride several miles east through the woods to Bear Wallow Road. But with bow hunting season in full swing, I decided to play it safe and stay on the paved roads as much as possible.
On Forest Road, I found the Major Taylor team riding training runs along the ridge. I’ve seen other teams up here, as the five miles from Old 37 to Rosenbaum Road is well paved and level, there are few roads in the county that can say that training. I got inspired and rode back and forth once, admiring the yellow light shining through the trees, the incredibly blue sky, and clean cool air.
Eventually I headed home, though I stopped at Bryant’s Creek Lake to take in the view, then again at Melton’s Orchard, it was quite the scene, their parking lot was full of both cars and bikes stopping by for cider and apples, they have a great selection, I will be back!
Old 37 is closed just south of Hindustan (where the orchard is), they are repairing a bridge, so while bikes can get through, cars can not, and it was quiet riding most of the way south to Dolan. I rode up Firehouse hill, then cut over on Bethel Lane to Headly Rd and Griffy Lake. Bethel Lane seems very dangerous to me, there are so many blind hills and the cars travel well above the speed limit of 35 mph. But I made it once more, and rolled on down to the lake for a short walk in the woods with Eileen.
I was surprised to learn (by plotting my course on Google Earth) that I had covered at least 50 miles (back and forth on the ridge pushed me past 50), and I felt fine (tired, but fine) as I climbed up Headly Rd. hill and back home. Thanks to good advice from Sue Aquila, I had kept my blood sugar levels fairly steady by eating regularly, and I even had some good salty corn chips at lunch, and I did not bonk even at the end.
Nature Notes: The leaves are fully turned now, and although yellow predominates, the red, orange and brown leaves are now especially visible. On Getty’s Creek I stopped when I saw a really large pileated woodpecker fly in front of me and call. I looked up and found a hornet’s nest in the tree I was under. I pulled out my camera to take a picture, and heard the unmistakable call of a red tailed hawk as it launched itself from nearby tree and flew out over the valley. Very few flowers and bees were evident, even the goldenrod is gone, but I did find some late chicory and a few asters along the roadside.