With near perfect weather and a near perfect route, the RCCS pulled of a successful-albeit-chaotic Clark State Forest Ride yesterday. The area just north of Louisville remains bucolic and underdeveloped and presents mile after mile of light traffic, numerous roads dissecting creeks and farm, and a fair number of hills to challenge the legs. The goal, as laid out by Dave, was to make our way NW, into Clark State Forest and then make our way SE before swinging back into Charlestown for a slice. We did end up at Charlestown Pizza, but a few contratemps sullied our path.
Leaving Dave’s house we consisted of a group of 11 riders, our biggest group yet. We had some usual suspects (me, Dave, Dale), some returnees (Ben from first ride and a friend of his), and a nice blend of others. Dale remarked that it was interesting to see a mixture from different cycling cultures: a fixie rider (Kirk aka Kermit) and Derek from OYLC, Tom the resident ‘bent guru in town and a smattering of local folks including Teri, and the couple of Chaz and Kristin, who peeled off early for a b-day party.
We rolled along enjoying the quick downhill out of Charlestown into a creek valley and rode a nice tempo when we noticed that we had gotten stretched out a bit. I doubled back to make sure everything was alright and told Dale to take the group on a bit. I found the ‘bent crew back a bit, with Tom’s lady friend not enjoying steep ups-n-downs. We- Dave on ‘bent, Tom on ‘bent and I on Bleriot- eventually marshaled forward but found our next challenge for the day, in this case a wrong turn onto Seatick instead of the obvious straight on Mt. Lebenon. It added an extra 4m to the route and with the previous stop meant that we were a good deal behind the front group.
A couple miles after our missed turn, up a quickie rise past yet another creek crossing Dave threw chain and had to rely on the excellent wrench skills of Tom to get going again. Three is the magic number, right? With a rest stop, a wrong turn and mechanical we had to really up the pace to have a chance to catch the front group. Just after the mechanical we found the beautiful road of Heil Rd., one of my favorites of the day. We caught most of the front group, well, they waited for us at the store stop, and proceeded with a general regrouping save Chaz, Kristin, and the fixie dude who peeled off to make other plans. Derek/Ben/Joe were up front a bit so our rear group was Dale, Teri, me, Dave, and Tom and we would all be together until well into Clark Forest.
Having mentioned the group of three problems, we encountered a 4th thereafter, one which would take us on an extra 7 miles and up one nasty little hill, oh, and by a big black dog not once but twice. At the intersection of W.Salem and S.Bloomington Trail the cue sheet combined with the signage made for a dicey proposition. Dale suggested turning left, the rest of us went straight. Dale was right but the extra portion on W.Salem/S.Liberty Knob made for some of the best riding of the day, as evidenced below. It was sort of fun to climb such a nasty steep little pitch (.3? and 8%??) but we eventually got turned in the right direction, which was towards Clark State Forest.
The next portion of the ride, only a mile long, proved another of my own personal highlights, although my fellow travelers didn’t necessarily feel the same way. Pound Rd., a mere mile-long entrance road into CSF ended up providing us with some ‘mixed-terrain’ action, surprising us all. I had decided to ride the Bleriot for several reasons, one of which was the climbing involved on the day. Pound Rd gave me my 2nd reason, allowing me to use the Bleriot ‘country bike’ and the Col de la Vie 38c to full effect. Everyone else wasn’t quite so happy. That said, we made it through just fun and commenced the uphill grind into Clark State Forest. I knew the climb was famous locally, but we were going up the backside. It didn’t matter. It was simply brutal, and kudos go to Tom for making it up the while way, even that nasty, short switchback bend that defeated the rest of the group.
Once up the climb we found Ben and Joe, and that would make our group for the return ride. By all accounts, we were all bushed from the extra mileage and extra climbing we didn’t anticipate. From CSF, using the latest IPhone technology a direct route was found and the group headed home, all a bit tired. The pic at our turn onto Munk Rd. does a good job showing the haggard look on some of the faces (not mine, I’m taking the picture 🙂 )
We crawled back and made it to Dave’s house in a group of 7. The original plan was to all pile in to Charlestown Pizza, but the length and arduous nature of the ride had some of the group heading home at different intervals- I hope Derek made it home b/c I never saw him after the departure-, but 5 of us ended up at at the pizza joint. Dale and I had a quickie appetizer and a beer but we had to split for family purposes. Dave, Tom and his ladyfriend (sorry ’bout the name. Drop a “comment” and it will be edited) stayed for full pizza and camaraderie.
Even with the goof-ups it was a spectacular route and a ton of fun, at least for me and I’m sure for some others. I encourage Dave to host another one in that neck of the woods because it’s fabulous terrain.