We set out in search of iron truss bridges, a tunnel under RR tracks, an old fire tower and the ultimate cheeseburger. A quick stop for gas and a PayDay (Darel calls them the original PowerBar) and we were gone. It was a brisk 58 degrees with fall in the air, it even smelled different being out in it.
We ride 12 miles when Greg pulls up next to me at a stop sign and says "I'm hungry". Holy cow, are you kidding me? We've just got started! We stop at a well known hole in the wall, down the road, for a burger and get back out on the road. I have to admit, I was more hungry than I realized by the time we ate. Good, now that lunch is out of the way, that will free up the rest of the day to ride.
We head south and finally climb up on top of Talimena Drive. Talimena Drive is 55 miles of sheer excitement on a bike with overlooks to stop and enjoy the view along the way. We don't have time for that today, besides, we've both been on it numerous times. We turn off of Talimena Drive onto PCR 100 and start our descent down the mountain. With all of the floods this year, the road was in treacherous condition. Wash outs left harsh square edged deep cuts across the road and the dirt had been washed away leaving sharp jagged rocks exposed just waiting to puncture a tire if you hit them wrong. I have rode miles of trail that was not as rough as this dirt road. We finally make it through the 11 miles down to Highway 8. Run up the highway for 1.5 miles then turn onto more county dirt roads. The condition was much better than the last dirt road we were on. We rode miles and miles of dirt road, taking in the beauty of the country, right up against the mountains before finding the Mountain Fork Bridge. Man, she was a beauty too ...110 years old! Greg pulls his helmet off and says, "you drag me out in the middle of (censored) nowhere ... for this?? I replied, no, I am looking for a tunnel under the RR tracks ... this is just on the way. He looks at me and says "oh ... cool".
We spent quite a while there admiring and photographing the bridge and enjoying the peacefulness and beauty of the river and its surroundings. Next we ride across the bridge and I stop to get a couple of photos. It was cool looking through the decking to see the river below. Next up we stop at the Two Mile Creek bridge built in 1920. From there we ride back out to asphalt and ride Highway 71 for four miles before catching another county road. I knew we must be getting close to the tunnel, I have been following the train tracks next to the highway and they bent off just before we turned onto the dirt road. After losing the tracks altogether, we were twisting and turning going through the country side and I was about ready to say, lets turn around ... we make one more hard bend and there is the tunnel. We rode through it, took some pictures, played with a friendly dog that found us then started back towards the house.
We stopped by the Rich Mountain Fire Tower ... a lot of history with that little place on top of the mountain. On the way back, Greg pulls up and says (no ... he doesn't say I'm hungry again. You're getting ahead of me here!), "I'm low on gas, I have 31 miles to empty". I look at my mileage and I'm about 29 miles from hitting reserve myself. We drop back down to Highway 59 and run into a little town for gas, I had just hit reserve and Greg had 6 miles to empty. Nice ride today, 255 miles, saw some cool stuff, made a new friend and in general had the time of our life today. I love fall days.
255 miles exceeds my mileage (a lot) that I normally try to stick to but I have to say I am feeling great for the day after. My RA has been well behaved and didn't even complain too much throuhout the longer ride yesterday. I hope everyone feels up to getting out and enjoying the fall weather this year.