I know I write a lot about goals.  I like goals.  They make me work harder than I probably would otherwise.  My last big goal of the year is hitting 9000 miles.  However, last weekend I realized something very important.  While my mileage was a very big goal to me, the biggest goal is to always have fun and enjoy riding my bike.  It was with that in mind that I decided to let my mileage be what it is on Dec. 31st.  If it’s 9000 miles, awesome.  If it isn’t, that’s cool.  I’ll know I’ve had a crapload of fun this year.
To start my journey back to having a “crapload of fun”, I promptly cancelled all road rides for the week.  Partly because the C3 was in the shop getting some much needed TLC, partly because I am really into gravel and trail riding right now.
Tuesday, straight from work, I met up with Eric and Jacob at Lithia Park in Ashland.  I haven’t seen Eric for awhile so it was good to catch up with him.  Despite a slightly cool afternoon, we had a good time riding the big loop around Reeder Reservoir.
Eric and I were forced to take a few extra minutes out of our ride when Jacob went missing.  Turns out he was playing chameleon.  See?  Fun already!
Though my original plan for Wednesday was just a few laps around Roxy Ann Peak, I changed my mind and rode with the group in Jacksonville.  It was my first trail ride at night since last Winter, I believe, and it was a blast.  Not a huge mile day, but it was worth it.
Another significant reason for wanting to have more fun and not just hammer out a bunch of miles is my physical well-being.  Lately, I’ve felt run down and I’ve had knee pain from so much riding.  My knees hurt so bad Thursday that I scrapped any thoughts of a ride in favor of taking a couple days off.
The extra day paid off and I felt ready to tackle a big adventure with Shawn on Saturday.
Parking just past Applegate Lake and just over the border in California, we hopped on our mtb’s right around 9 am and headed out for a long day of gravel.  There was a storm forecast to be coming in, but we felt we would stay dry since it wasn’t supposed to hit our area until that night.  
Rolling right back to Applegate Lake, we rode pavement for about a mile before turning left on Carberry Creek Road.  It wasn’t long before we knew we had made the right choice of rides for the day.
The scenery along Carberry Creek is fantastic, but 5 miles into our ride, we took another left on NF Road 1035 and were met, right away, with the first of many steep climbs.

By the way, I’m only going to bore you with the names of all the roads on this ride in case someone wants to go tackle them sometime.  They’re pretty spectacular and others should experience them!  (Quick shout out to my buddy, Rick, who introduced me to all these roads a year ago)
We never got rained on, but the sky was full of clouds and the wind was howling whenever we weren’t sheltered by a cliff.  It made for some pretty epic views.
Aside from a few impromptu exploratory excursions down roads we knew were dead ends, we stayed on Road 1035 all the way to the top of our climb which ended just below Whiskey Peak.
From there, we dropped down a very rough 4WD-advisable road known as Road 700 until we came to Road 850 (these roads have very descriptive and attractive names, don’t you think?).
Having been told about Hinkle Lake in the past and seeing as how it was only a 2 mile out and back from our planned route, we decided to take Road 850 out to the lake and check it out.  What a mother of a climb!!  Definitely several spots of over 20% but we eventually made it to the lake.  Although it was tiny, we were happy we made the detour.  As our legs were already tired from the climbing earlier, it felt like a big accomplishment to dig deep and make the climb to the little cirque lake.
After a brief rest, it was back down 850 to Road 1040, which 18 miles later, put us back at the car.  I have to say, that was the most fun I’ve had on my bike in at least a month or two.
A word to the wise – While this ride is totally doable on a Cross bike, I don’t advise it.  I did it on my CX last year and was hating life for the last 18 miles.  There’s a lot of fast descending and most of it is over either big rocks or heavy washboard.  This time, I rode the Toa and we flew back to the car. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
One might ask, “How do you top off a weekend after a ride like that?”  I did it by joining a fun group that was planning on doing the trail from Road 37 (another imaginative name) past Fish Lake to Lake of the Woods and back. 
I got there a little early so I did some minor exploring while I waited for the rest of the group to show up.
And, shot a pic of the Toa!
The trails were wet with mud puddles all over and the temps were in the 40’s.  We all got soaked and covered in mud.  It was great!  I love riding with people that don’t mind a little suffering in the name of fun.
In the end, I wound up with only 107 miles last week.  Big deal.  The fun level was through the roof.  I’m not sure what I’ll do this week, but there’s a good chance it won’t be something just to get miles.  I’ve got a bigger goal and I’m thankful for those that helped remind me of that!

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