Deep cuts on the route playlist
Some roads are like songs you don't hear often enough
There are routes imprinted on my mind indelibly through repetition, where I remember every bump and swale and usually have memories of specific rides attached to them. They’re like a song that has a subconscious connection to a place where you heard it, and that song and place are forever linked.
And then there are the routes that I go for years without riding and the memories are vague. I’ll remember snatches of the road and then the sound goes off and it’s like a road I’ve never ridden before.
It’s a song where you remember the chorus and maybe part of a verse, and then you’re lost, just humming along until the chorus comes back around again.
I rode out to west Jefferson County with the Skyway/Domestique guys one Sunday morning on roads that I first rode 10 or more years ago. Some I’d ridden more recently, but others were like a song that pops up on a playlist and you think, “yeah, I should listen to that more often.”
It’s beautiful farm land with road names attached to families: Lou George Loop, Dickey Springs, Lindsey Loop. It’s pretty, but it’s also not easy to reach unless you live nearby. For me, it’s about 25 miles along the crest of Shades Mountain just to get to those roads.
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I’d ridden the Bluff Ridge descent off Shades Mountain more frequently and more recently, so the abrupt pavement change at the county line was more of a familiar chord change than a surprise.
But we took a turn and while the road seemed familiar I couldn’t place it until a sharp left a few hundred meters later. That’s where we stopped years ago and turned around to look for Tony, who had been off the front, but missed a turn. In the chase to catch back up to us, he hit a dog that darted into the road, flipping him over his bars. It all came back to me.
And then it was all new roads for a few miles, with a vague sense of deja vu around a curve or at a turn — until we took a left on Green Road. This road … this one I remembered every note.
If this road were a song it would begin with a deep, foreboding bass line and end with a shrieking, shimmering crescendo. The climb is maybe only 400 meters long but it’s littered with gravel at the bottom and it’s steep at the top, peaking at close to 20%. That’s a note I just can’t hit with any grace. But it’s a song I’ll put on a more frequent rotation.
The ride: Skyway/Domestique
Video: Skyway/Domestique loop