Friday Group Ride #383

Friday Group Ride #383

There are places I go reflexively. The water tower (above) is one of them. Less than half a mile from my house, it looms over the hill we live on, a hulking mass of stone that contains nearly 2 million gallons of water. Architecturally, it’s a throwback. They don’t make them like that anymore. It’s just a water tower, but for me, it’s something special.

I seldom do a long ride that doesn’t end there, the highest point on any return trip, the icing on whatever leg-shredding cake I’ve been able to bake that day. I walk the dog up there in the early hours, a good spot to see the sun come up over the Atlantic and bathe Boston in whatever light we’ll get for the day.

There is another tower, this one riveted metal, rusting at its seams, that sits quietly in the local woods where I ride my mountain bike. Its base is scrawled with graffiti, some of it artful and fantastically executed, some of it profane and shitty. This is another place I can’t help but go. There is a swoopy, switchback climb to get there. The tower itself is the trophy.

I saw this article in the Guardian about how our brains react to geographical locations more readily and more intensely than they do to objects. The place you went on your honeymoon affects you more deeply than looking at your wedding ring does, for example. Something about places helps us connect to ideas and feelings larger than ourselves.

I buy it.

Cycling is full of iconic places, from the trails at Repack to the top of Alpe d’Huez, but I suspect most of the places that mean the most to us are local and easy to identify.

This week’s Group Ride asks, what are your local spots? How do you get there? What’s special about them?

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  1. Jon A

    Just the image of that tower bumped my HR by 30. When strava was young, and I was more fit I had some top-10s on different approaches.

    Didn’t realize we are neighbors; I’m about a mile west so I don’t need to go up and over to get home 🙂

  2. Fausto

    A quiet single lane, around a lake, in the woods. Ridden it a thousand times, rough, fast, slow, a kicker at the end. My favorite; not the best or most beautiful, but my happy place. First ride of the year for 20 years is that road. I want my ashes spread on that old black asphalt, to be part of it.

  3. Stewart Van Buskirk

    Glendora Mtn. Road to Mt. Baldy Village or straight up Baldy Road to the Village. When I’m feeling spry, all the way to the Ski Lifts.

  4. Paat O'Brien

    Brown Canyon Ranch in Cochise County, AZ. I can ride to it from home on a combination of road, dirt road, and single track. There are many way to get there, and one is almost all single track. The ranch is on National Forest Service land. Riding there never gets old, and sitting under an old cottonwood tree looking at the mountains is the best mid-ride break you can imagine.

  5. Michael Hotten

    Mine is not so special. But it does offer perspective and mental relief from a day or week working in the concrete jungle. The ride is Sullivan Ridge fire road. It takes me to dirt Mulholland. From there I can see just about all of the city of Los Angeles. And I am above it all. So maybe it is special…..

  6. Les.B.

    Mine is on the top of a hill too, at 1400 ft on San Pedro Hill in Palos Verdes. There is an FAA antenna farm at the top of the hill and thereupon rest two large radomes for FAA controllers.

    I can see one of them as I exit my driveway — it stands there beckoning. The location is known as “the domes” to the cyclists. These are also a throwback, as the FAA is moving from the WWII technology of radar to GPS. But so far they haven’t taken our domes away.

  7. Ev C

    Little Creek Dam – By bike, motorcycle or car. Serene reflections from the shore on the discharge side and a lovely tree lined reservoir on the full side that reminds me of the reservoir up the hill from the house where I grew up.

  8. TomInAlbany

    Thacher Park Overlook just outside of Albany, NY. I usually ride up from Voorheesville making the choice between Old New Salem Road vs. New Salem Road. The Old one is aptly named as, it’s typically in poor condition. But, it’s straight up vs. a meandering switchback.

    The view is east towards Albany. On a clear day, you see the Green Mountains and the Berkshires (or Taconics).

    If you bring quarters, you can use those pay-to-view binoculars and see nice detail.

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