Internal Detours
Sunday, March 19, 2006
  riding within limits

It had been a rough day. A little before 2:30 I emerged from the garage swaddled in wool, threw a leg over Belle and headed out. I had an eye on the weather predictions - drizzle, followed by rain and more rain as the evening progressed. The sky wasn't yet a flat grey, just covered in moving cotton wool.

The route was the same as yesterday's, with a twist. I wanted to see if the dirt roads crucial to a proposed ride that would take us out of Troy and through to Bradley still existed, or if they were simply cartographic phantoms like the mystery route from Promised Land to Beulah Church Road.

It's a radically different ride when you're on your own, at your own pace, and unhurried. The actual ride time was about the same, but I didn't feel beat and winded at the end of it. I felt comfortable switching down to the 38T middle ring and spinning merrily along.

I hooked a left onto Millway at Cedar Springs where Abbeville and Greenwood counties meet. Surprisingly, the roads I sought were only a hundred yards or so past Cedar Springs Church. To the right was Sumter Forest Road, to the left was Watson Hill Road.

There I confronted a dilemna. I knew I didn't have time to go right and ride to Troy, but I was sorely, sorely tempted to go left and ride the dirt road into the back end of Bradley. But I was alone, and the cell phone was with Ana on a trip to her sister's. I made a promise not to ride unpaved roads without one or the other, and even if I hadn't made that promise, prudence would be to wait until I was properly accompanied or equipped. I rode maybe 30 yards of Watson Hill, down to where some stunning boulders flanked the road. I stopped and put a foot down. It looked like a great road.

I dismounted and leaned Belle against one of the rocks and took some pictures. I know my limits. I'll ride these roads soon, but with at least one riding companion and a cell phone. For today, I admired how green the undergrowth was and ate one of my peanut butter-filled pitas while looking around.

I looked at the cycle computer's clock. It was 3:54, the sky looked greyer and darker, and it was time to go home. I stopped at Cedar Springs and took some pictures of the Cedar Springs Church (organized 1779, current building constructed in 1859), the old stage station, and the octagonal house. I took a couple more riding back towards Verdery - and then realized I had left the focus on my $9 pencam at the closeup setting. Dang. I changed the setting and took a couple of pictures of the old store and post office at Verdery, then got onto Briarwood and headed home.

The sky got darker, and I switched on my blinkie tail lamp. I shifted around a lot climbing the hill above the bridge on Briarwood, ate the rest of my pita at the intersection with Alexander Road, and shifted back onto the big ring and stayed there for a while on the rail trail. When I put Belle up on the rack, I had 36.5 miles for the day.

I was home in time to watch the end of Milano-San Remo. I thought about Tom Simpson the whole time, and when it was still Milan-San Remo to Anglophones.
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Location: Greenwood, South Carolina, United States
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