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A Virtual Training Ride with the NOBC

The Abita Springs to Enon Ride

Hey! Want to come along on an NOBC training ride? Well then clip in and get on a wheel, because we're ready to roll. We always have a number of maps on hand to give to people unfamiliar with the roads, because lots of riders end up doing the last 10 miles or so alone if the pace gets really fast. Don't worry, though, we haven't lost anyone --- yet.
Today we're riding the popular Abita Springs to Enon training ride on the Northshore. Some dude with a camera in his pocket is coming along too - better be careful when he starts trying to take pictures from his bike while looking backwards! The ride is mostly out-and-back over the low rolling hills North of Lake Pontchartrain. Since we started from the Ranger Station on the Tammany Trace, a rails-to-trails bike trail, the group will warm up with an easy 4 miles from the Station to Abita Springs. Here a typical group rolls down the super-smooth trace in a double paceline.
You can click on any of the pictures to see a larger version.

The first few miles North out of Abita Springs are dead flat and incredibly boring, but once we cross Highway 21 and get onto Military Road, we're into the low rolling hills typical of most of the ride. Here, the group hits the first little climb, just past Smith Road. On those cold winter mornings, this little climb is usually the first thing to get you warmed up. At the top, we finally come out of the cold morning shade and the group, or at least the front part of it, settles into a smooth paceline at around 20 mph. Of course, if you had a cup of coffee before the ride, now is about the time you'll start to feel the need for a brief break. Just make sure the riders at the front know you're going to stop, and get someone to wait for you in case you have to chase a bit.

Everyone stays together over the top as we head toward Pat O'Brein Road and LA-40 about 8 miles away. By now everyone is well warmed up and it's sometimes hard to keep the pace smooth. On the winter training rides we try to keep everyone together all the way to Enon, so if anyone goes off the front, he is expected to wait for the group at the next intersection. We re-group like that at every intersection on the way out, but once we turn around, the faster riders usually take off on their own. On Military Road we pass Dorignac Farms on the left, just after Pat O'Brein. Just before the intersection with Hwy. 40 we often stop for a second to regroup. Even so, it's best to stay with the pack, especially if there's the usual North wind!

After turning left at Highway 40 traffic picks up for a couple of miles, so we often end up in a single paceline. The surface isn't very good here, but there are a couple of nice climbs and descents before we come to Fairhaven road. Here, we turn right. It's not hard to miss this turn, so keep a lookout for the little store on the left. Fairhaven Road is about 200 meters, or one sprint, from the store. Even though it's only a couple of miles long, Fairhaven is a favorite because of the roller-coaster terrain and the new, smooth asphalt. It's practically impossible for the stronger riders to resist hammering up and down the little rollers, so we always plan to regroup at the next intersection.

As usual, the group has split along Fairhaven Road led by one or two riders who just can't resist. Sometimes, it can get pretty fast along here, but it is unusual for the group to drop anyone for good along this short stretch. The people who have done this ride before know this, and so they always wait at the next intersection to regroup. Generally, they'll wait for you as long as you're still in sight. On the longer 80-milers that we do later in the season, you should be careful about going out too hard unless you are very confident of your abilities in long races. Remember, things will be faster on the way back!

After Fairhaven, we turn North for a few miles of flat boring road that's nice for a double paceline. The road is straight as an arrow for a few miles, then curves left to meet Louisiana Tung Road, which, although it's only a couple of miles, is much like Fairhaven, with a few steep little rollers and some fun curves on the downhills. Last year when we were riding along Tung road, some hare-brained rabbit made a suicide attempt from the ditch, bouncing off my front wheel, but still managing to slip between front and rear wheels without getting squashed. Turning off of Tung Road, we are back on the main road to Enon. Watch for the Washington Parish sign, because there will usually be a "sign sprint" there, about a mile after the turn. Here the road gradually climbs to the Watchtower hill. The climb is spread out over a couple of miles, so it's not a challenge, but there's a pretty good downhill as you come over the top and roll in the last few miles to Enon.

Here the group is about at the bottom of the Watchtower hill descent, and as usual, things are strung out. The last re-grouping will be at Enon, so nothing to worry about yet. So, how are your legs feeling so far? The group will often push the pace up into the 40s down the hill, and a few of them will usually keep the pressure on all the way to Enon. It's only a couple of miles to Enon, but if you want to contest the Enon town sign sprint, don't get dropped here! If you're already starting to feel your legs, it's better to take it easy here, because they will always ease up after the sign sprint.

After a mile or so of flat road, we ride over the long Bogue Chitto River bridge, and just before reaching the end the sprint starts for the Enon sign. Don't worry though, usually only a few riders contest the sign sprint, and we'll regroup for the last time once we're in Enon. Now might be a good time to eat a Powerbar or something. If it's after January, the group usually won't stop at the store in Enon, but will continue North and do a loop of about 20 miles, passing through Enon again on the return. If you're already hurting at this point, it's a good idea to turn around at Enon. This will still give you a 50-mile ride, and you'll avoid the much faster pace of the remainder of the trip. If you're continuing, be sure to eat and drink now. On the longer rides, the group will roll easy for about two miles North of Enon while everyone eats, drinks and heeds other calls of Nature. After that, the pace gradually picks up and stays that way all the way back to Abita Springs. The group usually comes back by a slightly shorter route, taking Stafford Road instead of Military Road, so from here it's only about 22 miles back to Abita Springs. On the return trip, make sure you're ready for the climb back up to the Watchtower. It's not much of a climb when you're still fresh, but after 40 or 50 miles, it's usually what splits the pack.

The hammerfest sometimes starts to wind down after passing through Barker's Corner on the way back. These riders are coasting down one of the last downhills on Stafford Road, about 8 miles from Abita Springs. Later in the spring, the lead group of survivors will still be hammering pretty hard through here, and the last couple of little climbs just around the bend can be real killers. It's worth gutting it out here, though, because in about two miles you'll be out of the hills and back on the boring flat roads. This can be a big relief to those who are already hypoglycemic and delerious. If your legs haven't started to hurt yet, you're starting to get in shape!

The lead break comes around the curve at the last climb of the day, where Stafford Road meets Pat O'Brein Road. It's all downhill from here! Be careful, though, because the 7 miles of flat roads from here to Abita Springs are practically irresistable to the Time Trialists and Triatheletes. Maybe you can start up a deep conversation with the guys at the front? Usually by now it's warmed up quite a bit and Stafford Road can be pretty hot, but not to worry - Smith Road used to be nick-named "Shady Lane!" You'll turn left onto Smith Road in a couple of miles, and that will bring you back to Military Road and the intersection with La. 21, which is pretty dangerous. Luckily, there's a nice wide shoulder on 21 between Military and Hwy 59.

Finally! This is the main intersection in Abita Springs. If you parked at the Abita Springs school, you're finished. To the right is the road back to Mandeville and I-12 (and also the convenience store, the Abita Brewpub, and the School where we often park). Turn left at the bike trail just ahead for an easy 4 miles back to the Ranger station and your unbearably hot car. Thanks for riding with us. Let's stop at the Brewpub and have a couple of cold Turbodogs while we pretend that our legs don't ache!