When you get a couple back-to-back warm dry days in early Spring, what do you do with them?
Ride … a LOT!
Ride what? Always a good question when you have options, so it's helpful to have a plan. Always "planning" for something new, I've been toying with yet another biking adventure, and Wednesday's (4/7/2021) jaunt was in prep for that. Turn's out, Wednesday's "prep" was an adventure in itself.
A friend had tipped me off to yet another cool map resource called "GravelMap.com" that displays known off-pavement roads as reported by users. A casual look at the map turned into a huge time-suck when I realized how many more such roads exist in our region. But more than just dirt/gravel roads, I discovered that users can input "routes" as well, and I hit the jackpot! One user, who appears to be a rally-car driver, mapped out a 150 mile route in the hills south of Naples, which in MY mind translates to a 3-day bikepacking tour. Oh yeah!
Or, so I thought.
With the idea in mind, but knowing the transitory nature of old dirt roads, I elected to ground-truth the route to determine if it REALLY was a viable route for mountain biking, and if a couple potential campsites would work. I split the route into three sections, with two overnights in state forest properties, hopped on "The Beast" and took off early morning.
An hour later, I refueled in Wayland before heading over to the Atlanta firestation to start recording the route. Paved back roads till Cohocton turned ominously to wet and greasy and crazy steep dirt roads into the hills, causing me to question this whole idea of trying this on the big bike. After a number of tense moments, I eventually relaxed, realizing I haven't lost my skill set and restored my faith in the bike's abilities. For a 500 pound bike, it really is quite nimble in the rough stuff.
So things continued smoothly till I got to an unexpected detour. The guy who initially plotted this route appears to not have actually driven it. On the top of a hill, a narrow rocky trail led me to an intersection where the route pointed straight. I went about 1000 yards and came to gate across the road. The road was narrow enough, and with a steep drop-off on one side, I dared not try to do K-turns under power, so I shut down, got off, and man-handled a series of tiny K's to get the bike turned around without dropping it off a cliff into the woods.
It LOOKED like a Great Idea!
Suddenly, that nimble 500 pound bike didn't feel so nimble.
Back to the intersection, I tried both directions out to find both closed due to a huge natural gas pipeline and storage facility had commandeered the entire hill. The only way out was back down the dirt trail to the highway, where I figured out the shortest path back to the planned track.
Back on route, the rest of the day mellowed out significantly … or maybe it was me. Many of the roads after this point were ones I'd already ridden on mountain bikes, or during a dual-sport event we've ridden called the "Thrills in the Hills" with the Wayne County Motorcycle Club, which they tag as "100 Miles of Bad Roads". Fun time.
Looks Mellow Enough
I finished the 150 mile route realizing a few things:
1. It's a wild good time on a motorcycle.
2. It's far too tough as a three day ride on a bicycle for this old man.
3. I'm dead set and determined to do it anyway.
4. So, I'll have to find a way to break it up into 4 or 5 days!
150 Miles of Sweat and Giggles