Saturday, some of us rode a new RUSA 200K permanent, Green Acres. It starts in Baxter, TN, goes south to Smithville, then passes thru Rock Island and Fall Creek Falls state parks before heading back. It's my new favorite permanent.
Now, a lot of things make up a good route. You must have good roads, with mostly light traffic and a good surface. It's nice to have a couple of climbs, mostly because you then get great views and fun descents. I always like for there to be one shady road that goes along some water, since that gives you a nice cool break during the summer. If possible, throw in a control with really good food, and you're golden.
Green Acres has just enough of all of that to make it a really fun 200K. We had an easy long descent down to Center Hill Lake, then a fast level ride to the Smithville control. Going thru Rock Island State park is always great, although you should stop for a break to see the falls and all of the other neat stuff there. The control at Rock Island Market makes a great milkshake, or you can get a good sit-down breakfast or lunch.
A few miles after this, the route turns onto Laurel Cove Road. This was on the Edgar Soto Race course in 2007, and is one of those great rolling roads that you can really let rip on a bicycle, pushing yourself just a little harder than you should, or just sit back and enjoy the view. We did not see any cars on this road.
Then, you climb up Baker Mountain. This road is also on the spring Tennessee 600K, which has over 26,000 feet of climbing, but it is the only long climb on this permanent. Again, you can push yourself and go up fast, or sit back and spin.
A few miles later, you head into Fall Creek Falls State Park. There are a few short climbs and little descents going through here, but it's very pleasant riding under a canopy of hardwoods. Saturday, the trees were just starting to turn -- late October on this ride should be excellent.
We all stopped for lunch at the A&H Market, which does a nice cheeseburger. From there, we started back north, with a great descent down Hwy 285, followed by a level meander along Cane Creek. The next 30 miles are gently rolling countryside, very empty, so there are few cars and no stores. Since you're back down off the plateau at this point, it also gets warmer -- we were happy to stop for cold drinks at the Central View Market at mile 103.
The eight of us formed a fast paceline for the last 22 miles to Baxter. Since the ride begins at the Love's Truck Stop there, we were able to change into clean clothes and eat some recovery fuel at Subway and McDonald's there.
If you're interested in doing this permanent, you can get information from the Harpeth Bike Club's Ultracycling page. If you want to see pictures and a track of the ride, I've posted it to Bicycling.com's GPS Rides page.