Monday, September 23, 2019

Maple City Metric Gravel Grinder

Gavin (left), Will (center), and Me (right)
We couldn't have asked for a better day for this ride. It would be Gavin's first organized gravel grinder. It would be my second gravel grinder in Pennsylvania this year, one that I hoped to finish this time. Early in the spring Will and I attempted the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo on a cold and miserable day only to bail at the first rest stop because we were soaked and freezing. 

That wouldn't be the case today.

Zach gave the pre-ride brief to the 100 mile riders. We decided to leave with them figuring that we were going to average 10 mph and given that the two Metric rest stops were also 100 mile rest stops there was no risk of getting to them too soon.

We got to First Dirt after a one and quarter mile climb from the start point. It was paved but really steep.  

I was a quarter of a mile up the hill when I realized I forgot to turn on my Garmin.  I figured if there was still gas in the tank when we got back I would ride up the hill again to record that last bit.  By the end of the ride the Give-a-Shit meter was redlined so it didn't happen.

There was an abundance of cows on the route today.

Besides seeing plenty of cows what made this ride especially enjoyable was that there wasn't really any insane climbs like those hills you would find on D2R2 route or at F2G2.  The climbing here was subtle but still very abundant.

The red clay mixed with lighter grey gravel was different. It seemed to cling to the bike more, though. As the day wore on the temperature began to rise but it wasn't unpleasant.

We had the roads to ourselves. We encountered a few sag wagons but on the dirt roads we rarely saw any other vehicles.

Riding along this pond reminded me of riding West Shore Road along Lake Waramug, only we were riding on a dirt road. The first rest stop was supplied with just about everything you could want for a warm day of riding gravel. While I had breakfast I realized, only after I was a mile into that first climb that I should have brought more food because imagined that a lot of energy would be needed.

I made up for not bringing enough food by going to town at the first rest stop. I really chowed down and had pickles, a peanut butter and banana sandwich, gummy bears, tangerines, Fig Newtons, trail mix and Slim Jims. Washed it down with a Gatorade, a coke and water. I even took two electrolyte capsules they had on hand for fear of cramping.

Afterwards we saw more cattle

As we were about to leave the first rest stop a group of guys rolled in that were on the Metric as well. They caught up to us a little further down the road and then they were gone. After a really, really steep descent did we come to the Delaware River. Since this route was the reverse of last year and if Zach alternates the direction every year then next year's ride back up Rock Run Rd will be a total B#tch!

River Road was mostly flat and riding along the river was really pleasant, and the temperature seemed to be held at bay, too.

There was this really cool waterfall that must look spectacular when there is a lot more water.

We had to settle for a trickle.

Turning west we started a 4.5 mile climb up from the river to Bush Road that had an average 3.5% grade. Halfway up the climb one of the guys that had passed us earlier came back down the hill. I thought he didn't get the KOM and was coming back for another shot at it. Turns out, as we learned from him at the next rest stop that he was on the 100 mile ride and had taken a wrong turn and was backtracking.

Clouds started coming in and it cooled off a bit. Gavin, however, was having some back pain and took this climb a lot slower. What I found interesting was this big climb was all grey gravel.

Then, turning onto Bush Road the gravel was red again.

The food selection at the next rest stop was a little lighter but then again there was only 9 miles left on the course. Even though I didn't feel that hungry I still ate a lot. From here we had a flatish climb on a paved road for 3 miles. Right before turning onto Rodenburg Road I almost got T-Boned by a fawn jumping out of the woods. Then Gavin had an almost similar experience by a much bigger dear jumping out behind him. 

Rodenburg Road started out with a one mile climb with an average 5% grade and then flattened out into a 4x4, Jeep road, with lots of mud and mud bogs to ride around. At the end of the road it climbed again and it finished with a steep, rocky climb up to a paved road.

The road turned to gravel again as we got closer to Duck Harbor Pond.  On the east side of the pond the road turned west and started a 4 mile climb up to Cochecton Turnpike. On that climb, Gavin slowed quite a bit and we encountered other riders that never passed and must have been on the 100 mile ride but were bailing.

Of course there were more cows!

The last climb was on Niles Pond Road. It had the weirdest surface. It was like chip seal with chunks of rock. Or it was asphalt at one time and had been plowed so many times that top layer was just worn away.  Once we got to the top we had a 5 mile descent back to the starting point! Our average speed for the ride was 11 mph which was a little faster than what I thought we would do.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Fallsburg Rails to Trails

Gavin and I signed up for the Maple City Metric Gravel Grinder, taking place on Sunday, September, 22nd.  Since the ride started about 45 minutes from his cabin in Smallwood, NY, we headed up there on Saturday and then headed over to Hurleyville to check out the rail trail.

We headed east down the paved rail trail thinking that we could ride it some distance. Unfortunately, we the paved part of the trail ended abruptly and then we were riding on an old rail road bed. Fortunately, we had our gravel bikes but I figured that we would be riding a paved trail I decided to not bring my gear back or pump. 

We didn't find this map until we were almost in Fallsburg so we weren't really sure how far we would be actually riding.

In Fallsburg, the trail evaporated. We went riding on some roads to see if we could find it again but didn't, unfortunately.

We found a road called Tunnel Road but never found the actual tunnel. Turns out it was right under our nose.

Once back in Hurleyville we set off in the other direction and found more paved trail that we road until it stopped and then turned around. We were still able to get a few miles in and Gavin found a new place he could ride with this wife.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

New reroute on the Gussy looks like an extreme form of dumbing down the trail

I headed out to Upper Paugussett Saturday morning to ride all the trails and see how they are holding up. It's been a while since I have been on the mountain bike. First there was the issue with a broken spoke, which led to needing to have the rear hub replaced.  Then I hurt my back and couldn't ride at all. Once I was able to ride again, I found that the hub was loose and needed to take it back to the shop to get that fixed. Almost 2 months later, I am finally out on the trails and what I found was surprising.

Coming up from the first new re-route, the bermed climb, the trail did a little s-turn and then headed back towards a cool technical section with a small roller and a rocky section.  I was surprised to find this blocked off and the trail went back to the old route that it used to take pre-tornado.

Where you see the mile marker is where the reroute is. It has a nice to flow to it but I reopened the blocked off section (see map above) and rode the techy roller in both directions. It's a tough feature but it's fun. Who ever did this is pretty selfish, though, because you shouldn't block off the fun stuff because you can't ride it. I can understand the need for a B-line, only this is pretty extreme.

Here is the overall map for your reference. I will say, however, that this reroute will go nicely with the big re-route that I have to finish doing just south and west of here. Look for an announcement of work days in October.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lake 2 Lake with an unauthorized stop at Ovens of France

This year's Lake 2 Lake was moved to the fall so it could coincide with one of LOF's adaptive waterskiing clinics that was being held at their new location, the Southbury Beach. It's not really a beach but it's on the water and the ideal location for what they do. As with past years I once again helped get the word out and planned the routes, which were 100K and 50K routes.

It was a crazy start because the driveway is a 25% grade to the road that you had to walk. It was really foggy but the temperature was hovering around 60 degrees and you know that once the fog burned off it would be a glorious day and it was.

Unlike previous years, this route headed up Purchase Brook to Brown Brook and on into Roxbury. We broke out of the fog just before the climb on Brown Brook but once you got to the top Painter Hill at Topland Farms could you really appreciate it.

The best view on the ride was from Painter Ridge.  

The first rest stop was at the Murals after you turned onto Route 47 from Route 109. At 20 miles, it was the perfect point for a stop to get some food in you and top off the bottles.

We then headed up Route 47 towards New Preston. This section of road is a flat climb to Route 202 and a stretch that you can really hammer on. Then it was down Rt 202 and up Flirtation Avenue to Lake Waramaug.  

Apparently Brendan, pictured above, as well as Scott, have never ridden around the lake before and it was on their bucket list. 

The lake this morning was like glass.

The climb up to Warren was equally nice and then ripping down Rt 341 was refreshing. After turning onto Rt 202 we climbed up and then turned off onto Looking Glass Hill and climbed some more.  I had some reservations about this section but it wasn't that bad.  Then we rode over to Rt 209 and then to rest stop at Bantam Lake.  

At the rest stop we decided there was no way we were going to ride through Woodbury and not stop at Ovens of France (aka OOF) so when the route turned onto Transylvania Road we parted ways with Brendan and headed down to OOF.

Photo Credit: Gavin Arneth
I finally got to try the Sausage and Cheese baguette and it was delish! The French Roast was also a good pick me up.

The detour added a mile to the ride and a little extra time but it was totally worth it! When we got back to the beach I broke out the beer and we had BBQ hamburgers.  Brendan also won the free bike!

Photo credit: Scott Daviddow
Looks like someone in his family is getting a new bike

Photo credit: Scott Davidow

Sunday, September 08, 2019

It's not just a ride, it's an adventure!

What I really like about this ride is that every year it's a different route and there are no crazy climbs like what you would find at D2R2 or one of those Vermont gravel races. This ride combines just enough challenge with some great scenery to welcome in the fall gravel grinder season.

The pre ride briefing was held promptly at 8 am and then we were off!

Joining Will and I today was Tim McGrath who we met a few years back while camping with Mike Sage-Robinson's crew at D2R2. I thought it was going to be a lot warmer today, at least that is what the forecast had predicted, but the hurricane that passed by in the night was drawing colder air down from the north which kept it chilly as the day wore one.

As I mentioned before, each year the NERAC guys who put on this event, change up the route and this year it was really different. After bombing through Boston Hollow and heading into the Yale Forest we turned onto the Axe Factory Road(?), which is actually a dual track trail through the forest. Tim and I made a wrong turn and Will called to me about the error so I turned back but Will was long gone. We met up with Will later at the first rest stop.

A big change in this year's route was the first rest stop being at the Our Companions Animal Sanctuary, which has always been the last rest stop on the previous rides.  There, I ran into Laura Kelly who happens to be friends with Steve Taylor, someone I met via Instagram who spends a week at Sticks and Stones riding gravel in Western Connecticut. We have ridden together during the past two years. Laura also introduced me to her friend Gail Harris who is an avid gravel rider and wants to learn more about the gravel roads in Western CT because it's part of her work territory so I am going to introduce her to my Roubaix to Brew Gravel Map.


The route took us north into Woodstock and Union. We stopped in at a YMCA camp, Camp Woodstock, where Tim is on the board of directors, for a little break and then headed north again. This would be a great place to have a rest stop if the route comes through here again.

With the previous two rides I was just starting to familiarize myself with the territory, however today I felt like a Stranger in a Strange Land. From Woodstock we worked our way south towards Pomfret and rode a really nice road called Quarry Road.

Never saw a quarry, though. It was probably the longest dirt road of the route and it was pretty flat.

Then we came to some singletrack off of Firetower Road. 

It was totally buff and fun to ride.  

At the end of the trail was another rest stop at Frog Rock.

After three miles of all dirt roads we hit the Airline Trail.

Which is a graveled rail trail that runs from East Hampton, CT to the Rhode Island border

The longest and probably the steepest climb was up Tower Hill Road

Once at the top and down a ways there was the final rest stop with Maple Syrup shots and Watermelon! From there it was just 6 miles back to the start point.