Folks who know me know I'm always early, so I wasn't surprised when I didn't see any other cyclists in the lot. Shortly thereafter, though, in rolled Barry Y, and then Joe M and Tom (who, sensibly, didn't get out of the car until he absolutely had to; it was that cold). A few minutes later, Laura joined us, so we were five.
Tom told us that the Duke Farm was originally an estate owned by a man who made his money in hydroelectrics, and the grounds are full of man-made lakes and waterfalls. The current generation, however, is more interested in sustainability, and the farm is now host to a number of earth-friendly technologies. This barn, with the excellent horse relief at top, is now largely solar-powered and uses rain water for non-potable water needs (really, though, I just needed to get a picture of that horse...).
Below, another picture of Joe M's Bridgestone with the cork grips and tape, and bar-end shifters (and suspension stem). I love the way this bike looks.
Tom didn't have a clear idea of the course today, so there was quite a bit of "wait, let me look at the map; nope, it's the other way", which, along with many stops for pictures, means that a lot of you would have hated this ride (presuming you'd even come out on such a cold day). You can see this on the route, although some of the out-and back was to investigate some of the features of the farm, such as this unfinished foundation:
Tom told us that Old Man Duke started making enough money in tobacco that he figured he ought to move to North Carolina, so he abandoned this place for there. There are still excellent waterfalls, though...
... including this one that was constructed to be dramatic, and I'm sure it is, in season:
A few other pics, including us at an unfinished building that has become a sculpture garden:
So, yeah, between the cold and the stops... you probably would have hated this ride.