Today's ride followed the route of a race that hasn't been held in 5 or 6 or maybe even 7 years. It started out nice enough: tailwind through dead flat farmland. I missed a turn, but no worries because I just took the next one instead. The only hard thing about this stretch of the ride was that there was nowhere to stop and pee (the women's peloton used to be quite a spectacle when it would just stop somewhere, hopefully but not always out of sight of the nearest farmhouse). Whereas on Wednesday there was no traffic and a jillion trees, today there was traffic and nowhere to hide. Eventually, you climb out of the valley on Gap Road, which is like a mini pass, a stairsteppy, not too monstrous hill. There's a little town at the bottom on the other side, where I stopped for coffee and a scone (I'm tired of Clif bars, and those Blox taste like paint thinner). The town is just big enough that if you shut down all the streets, you could have a nice little 4-corner crit (me? thinking of crits? hmmm).
Well, I ended up so curious about that bottle that on my second time up the hill, I had to stop and look at it. I figured I'd just be able to accuse some local team of littering the countryside. I was astounded to discover that, indeed, it must have been sitting there, virtually unscathed, for these last 6 years. So when people tell you NOT to throw your water bottles off the road in a bike race, this is why: they do not go anywhere, they do not disintegrate, and as a general rule I do not go around 6 years after a race to pick up old bottles. Plastic is forever; be careful where you put it.
As I crested the climb and dropped down the other side, I thought "gee, it's steeper from this side; I should turn around and go up this one too." So I did. It was steeper, but there was a tailwind, so it wasn't too bad. I managed to turn a ride with one long climb into one with 3 good climbs.
Just when I thought I must have missed Shotgun Creek, I saw the sign to the "Recreation Area." It is now an OHV ("off highway vehicle") trail area, which seems somewhat more appropriate than the road bike courses we used to have to try to find through this jumble of barely paved forest roads of 10-14%. Curious to know what OHV stood for, I stopped to read an informational display and came across this picture from "back in the day" when we did indeed race on these "roads." The fifth guy in this line could be wearing an old Olympic Sports jersey.