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Saratoga Gap to Russian Ridge - November 16, 2008

Distance: 18.9 miles Ascent: 2,938 ft. Moving time: 2:52 hours

I enjoyed the fall colors at Saratoga Gap on Tuesday, so I talked Don and Anna into riding there again on Sunday. The weather was completely different today with an unseasonably warm day in the mid-80's, about 30 degrees warmer than last time. We got there earlier but the parking lot was already packed with cars, many sporting bike racks. We ended up going at a bit faster pace due to this other traffic. The warm weather brought out the "fair weather" riders, so there were quite a few slower novices that we had to pass.

We went pretty much on the standard route (the same as the Tuesday ride) from Saratoga Gap to the entrance of Russian Ridge. We explored a side trail from the top of the hill climb in Skyline Ridge to near the abandoned tennis courts and the ranger housing, but the trail was pretty unexciting. We decided to turn around at the entrance to Russian Ridge since I was a bit low on water.

The climb over the hills in Skyline Ridge was easier this time. Perhaps it was due to not riding to the far end of Russian Ridge and back, more snacks, or I am just getting into better shape. I felt much stronger today than on Tuesday. Don and Anna commented and suggested that they may need to change their pre-ride breakfast to my bagel and cream cheese. We made it back with just a short stop at the Jikoji gate.

We all enjoyed this ride. Anna got some good pictures on her new camera. The reddish leaves are still on the ground but some of the trees are a brilliant yellow. In the forest, there is a nice contrast between these colors, the dark green leaves, and the bright light green leaves where the sun is shining through them. We also got some good shots at Horseshoe Lake.

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