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Saratoga Gap to Rapley Road - November 11, 2008

Distance: 25.5 miles Ascent: 4,136 ft. Moving time: 4:19 hours

Since the weather was nice and cool, I went for a ride at Saratoga Gap to catch some of the fall colors. I was by myself, so I decided to focus on holding a sustainable pace. I didn't have a particular destination in mind. We usually get to the Christmas Tree Farm and head back, but I felt good and kept going. I got to Alpine Road, but I felt good and kept going. I went all the way to Rapley Road before I took a break (excluding a few momentary stops for pictures). I held a pretty good pace but I wasn't trying to set a speed or time record.

On the return, I felt pretty good through Russian Ridge, but I started feel it on the hills in Skyline Ridge. Maybe it was because I was 3 hours into a ride with few breaks, maybe it was the fact that I didn't have breakfast or lunch, and maybe I am just a whiner. But I pushed on. I did stop for short breaks in a few places, but I rode all the way back at a sustainable pace. Most of the time, I wasn't really breathing that hard, but my legs were tired. It was nice to get back to the car (especially since it was about to get dark), but I could have pushed on further if I needed to. I have certainly felt worse at the end of other Saratoga Gap rides.

So I started this ride with the goal of finding some autumn colors. I wasn't disappointed. I got several good photos of leaf-covered singletrack with lots of red and yellow leaves contrasting with the dark trail and the green moss-covered trees. Pretty nice. As an added bonus, I also saw quite a few animals. As I came up the initial climb in Russian Ridge, I spotted a coyote on the ridge line. I continued to ride forward but the coyote didn't move until I was within about 20 feet. He slowly moved off while I took several pictures. I also came across several groups of deer, including some that I passed within 10 feet of. I was looking for newts, but I didn't spot any on the trail. I didn't really stop to look in likely places (had to keep moving), but I thought they might be on trails since everything was pretty moist.

I really enjoyed this ride. I held a good pace and pushed myself a bit in terms of endurance, especially with minimal breaks. I also enjoyed the autumn colors that I was looking for.

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