Thursday night I had a 2 hour ride planned. I vacillated between riding gravel roads around Douglas County, or riding a straight shot down Prairie Spirit Trail. I decided on Prairie Spirit because I thought it was be safer since I would be riding alone. I did arrange for crew to drop me in Ottawa, meet me in Princeton and Richmond, and then pick me up in Garnett. That at least meant I had a back-up plan in case I wanted to bail early and help nearby if something went wrong.
I started in Ottawa and headed out for Princeton. I am very familiar with the trail until Richmond, so I there weren’t any surprises. There were a lot of animals out. I spotted mostly rabbits and squirrels, but did get a really cool Go Pro vid of a deer running on the trail for a couple minutes in front of me!
One thing I found interesting was how much the travel varied between segments. Ottawa to Princeton only has a thin tree line on either side, so it is the brightest section of trail. Since you can also see through a lot of the trees to farm fields, it makes it feel more rural than rugged. The wildlife is small, usually rabbits and once, baby badgers. Princeton to Richmond, the trees get thicker and you get more raggedy evergreens and bigger wildlife. This is where I spot deer and bobcats. Richmond to Garnett, the trail looked a lot like Flint. The trees were deep and dense and I would not like riding there at night by myself. Parts of the trail had steep drop-offs on either side. (I made a mental note not to accidentally go off-trail!)
I felt really good the entire ride. I did get a little tired by Richmond but pushed on. I actually did Richmond to Garnett the fastest! Negative split! Woot!
Being out on the trail, riding alone for 2 hours, gives you a lot of time to think. Maybe some people would bring headphones (And I could have since I decided to not wear a helmet. It was hot and I thought the benefit of cooler head outweighed the risk of crashing on a closed trail). I just spent a lot of time thinking, taking nature and singing songs in my head.
I find it easier to go without music on a ride than on a run. On a long training run, I often listen to music for the last half. It gives me a little boost and keeps me engaged.
There is a lot to be said for silent runs / rides though. You are much safer since you can hear everything around you, and I think it helps build mental toughness. Do you listen to music on rides or runs?