Today, Valentine's Day, Annette and I planned a bike ride involving gravel/dirt. We made up a loop that would be around 33 road miles plus whatever we would do on trails. That's a good chunk of miles for Annette, but she was confident she could do it. Yesterday, we inflated her tires, and did some adjusting to get her mountain bike shifting good. Mama Cass, having ridden over in the back of the Hyundai Santa Fe rental car, just had to have her wheels put back on.
We took off from the house about 9:30 or so. Right away we were on gravel because...well, the road they live on is gravel. That soon ended, and we were on pavement. We went over a ridge and down amongst fields of nothing at the moment (maybe hay in summer?). As we were riding along, we saw a large hawk flying ahead, then land on a power pole. As we rode under the pole I could look up and see him sitting up there looking for something to eat.
We continued riding on these great country backroads. We were working our way to Riverside State Park. As we were riding along, I spied a few quail running along next to the road. Such cute birds! Continuing further along the road, a beautiful pheasant flew across in front of us. It was beginning to seem more like a birding outing, than a biking outing!
We came out to the highway that goes along the Spokane River. As we crossed the Little Spokane, Annette saw a crane fly low over the water. Okay! Add "Crane" to the bird list!
Not much farther, we came to the bridge over the Spokane and into Riverside State Park. It's at a place called Nine Mile. On the river is Nine Mile Dam. The volume of water spilling over the dam was incredible!
We rode by the ranger station and up this one road. As we started riding up the hill, we noticed a trail off to the right. We decided to take that trail. Up up up the trail went. As I came around a corner, the trail leveled off. I stopped to wait for Annette and there were two deer looking at me. So, I took the one's picture.
We rode along the trail for awhile, then came back to the road. First I thought we would have to ride the road back down, but I saw the trail went alongside the road. We passed about 5 mountain bikers going the other direction. The last gal said, "I wish we were going downhill".
When we got back the the parking area, I noticed a pile of snow. Oooo...I could try MC out on some snow! Okay, so it wasn't very much...but, it was something.
We took the same trail back down that we had come up. Strangely, it was much easier and faster!
Back at the ranger station, I noticed there was more trail across the road. So we went there, rode a bit more, then stopped at a bench overlooking the river to eat some lunch. It was very nice.
Afterward, we thought we should probably head back as we still had a good chunk of miles to do to get back to the house. We needed to go on a road called Rutter Parkway. Annette said it was flat. It wasn't. I commented to Annette that she had an interesting concept of flat. She said it was flat at the top. Funny! Although it was indeed flat for awhile after that initial climb. It was, by no means, the last hill we had to climb.
We came around again to the Little Spokane River. We crossed it (a different place than before), and as we were riding up another hill away from the river, we saw a flock of wild turkeys. More birds to add to the list!
We came down a long hill and made a hairpin turn at the bottom. As I looked ahead, a white-tailed deer went trotting across the road, right where there was a "deer crossing" sign. Smart deer! It knows where to cross the road! (There was a radio talk show where a woman called in to complain that the deer were not crossing the road where the sign was. She seriously thought that the deer should read the sign, and know that was where they were supposed to cross the road! Needless to say, the radio guy had some fun with that one.)
We climbed some more hills. It had been foggy most of the day, but it finally burned off, and we had some blue sky and sun for the last few miles home. We ended up riding a total of 39 miles, and doing almost 3000 feet of elevation gain. And...we saw a lot of birds!
When we got back to the house, we hopped in the hot tub for a relaxing soak. Now, that's what I call a great Valentine's Day!