Mike and I accepted an invitation to go ride with Dave on Sunday on a loop he had devised south of Clever to Hurley and Crane. Since it involved new roads, it didn’t take much convincing for us to make the drive to our starting point in the small town where I grew up.
We headed out of town on somewhat familiar roads, but I knew as soon as we got further south than I normally wander I would be totally lost, and I was. Well, let me re-phrase that. I knew the general area we were in and could have wandered my way to Hurley, but the last time I went south of Hurley would have probably been around age 13, so I didn’t recognize anything at all!
We were generally heading into the wind the first 25 miles, but it wasn’t unreasonably bad, and the temperature was just warm enough to make dressing for it a matter of guessing. I guessed wrong, and was dripping with sweat before too long. Mike said he got it pretty close to right, and Dave seemed to be somewhere between the two of us!
Because we were going south of Clever instead of west, our terrain was of the up and down variety. In fact, take a look at this:
All those funny squiggly lines represent the ups and downs on our way to Crane. The long gradual uphill is us coming back to Clever in something of a circle from the west. Obviously, my Garmin didn’t do a great job of capturing elevation….I promise we ended where we started!
Within about 5 miles, Dave had the strangest mechanical. He lost the ability to shift on the rear. We quickly found that it wasn’t a broken cable and it seemed that his Ultegra shifter was broken. We were in the process of fixing him in a middle gear when I discovered that the little pawl that catches and advances the gear in the shifter was flopped back out of the way and thus not engaging the gears to move the cable. I reached in with a little twig and easily shoved the thing back into it’s normal position and we celebrated the fact that we had a shifter again! By that time, however, we had already loosened the cable to force him into that middle gear, so we had to do a roadside tune-up as well. He didn’t have any problems after that.
About the same time Dave had his issue, my camera battery gave up the ghost. Dave had his, though, and was generous to share his pictures of the rest of the ride.
We crossed M Highway near Browns Spring, rode through the upper Spring Creek headwaters, and came out on A Highway west of Hurley. That’s at the top of a nice downhill run into town, but the chip seal highway and the wind conspired to keep out speed down a little bit. It was on this hill that I concluded that my small size keeps me from going down hill as fast as a normal sized guy. Both Dave and Mike left me in the dust!
At Hurley, we turned south again to follow the Spring Creek valley to it’s confluence with Crane Creek. Where they meet is called “Secret Valley”. The ride down the creek valley was pretty enough, but you just knew it would be totally awesome when things green up this spring and later in the fall. At one point we came upon an old cow with a brand new calf in a Mexican Stand-off with three buzzards over the placenta that was laying on the ground. We knew the calf couldn’t be more than a couple of hours old because it’s cord hadn’t begun drying up yet, but the farmer had already tagged it’s ear. The buzzards flew off as we approached, so the stand-off was at least temporarily resolved.
After the confluence of the two creek valleys, we turned onto Boston Mountain Road. With a name like that, it was obvious what we were in for. That hill was about two miles long, but luckily the steepest part was only about a quarter to a half-mile long. And, because we essentially climbed over the ridge, we got a really nice downhill as our reward!
After a break in Crane (I’d never been to Crane by bike before Sunday), we headed back to Clever. We had the wind behind us most of the way, and nothing but a long, gentle climb the entire way, so it was almost an anti-climatic end to a good ride.
We pulled up to our vehicles with exactly 40 miles behind us and declared the ride a success! Thanks to David for inviting us!
You can click the map below for the full Strava link.