Finally, almost all the snow is off the trails we’ve been scouting out over the winter. There was a lot of snow in the area covered in the course of the Farmer’s Daughter Gravel Grinder, and it all melted over the past few days now that we’ve gotten several days with highs at least in the 60s and lows above freezing. Some of the dirt roads in more heavily wooded areas were soft because of all the recent melting, but they’re drying out fast and all should be in excellent riding shape very soon. Most of them already are.
Last week my co-organizer Andy Ruiz and I (Jon Stillman) found some off-road segments that you’re going to love! We’ve been able to add significantly to what we had previously planned to use in an area close to Chatham. Property owners have been great about letting us use their lands, so we’ll be able to give you an experience that will be unique to the event. Our plan has been to give you as many dirt roads as we can (lots!) and about 3 sections of cyclocross bike friendly off-road sections. More about what we mean by that further down.
We went back yesterday to re-ride the first section and to explore the prospect for the third (the third is the one I posted about here a couple of weeks ago that was then still heavily covered with snow). We were joined by Jennifer Harvey, who took the photos you see here. The first area is in great shape, with a few sections that are still wet from the recent melting, but should be nice and dry soon. We rode almost all of it yesterday. You’ll see from the photos that we rode hardtail mountain bikes yesterday; that’s because it was a scouting expedition, and in particular we didn’t know how rough the third off-road section might prove.
The first section is, even now, quite ride-able on a cyclocross bike.
The new extension of this is in the woods, and needs a little bit of sprucing up to remove some branches, but consists of nice wide paths.
You will need to cross a couple of small streams, and for some of us that will mean dismounting, but they can be ridden across as well. We’ll provide updates on those as the event nears. There’s also some climbing in the first section; nothing too challenging, but a bit like a run-up in cyclocross that some will choose to dismount for and others will ride.
To summarize, we love this first section of off-road riding, and are confident that you will, too.
After some nice (mostly) dirt road riding, there’s another off-road section, a nice out and back on wide trails in a mix of woods and fields.
We spent the bulk of our time on this particular expedition working on the planned third segment of off-road. Some of you may recall the photos I posted of the candidate area recently, still covered in deep snow. The good news is that the snow is almost completely gone from these trails now. The bad news is that what we found was either too rugged (very steep in spots) or overgrown for us to include in the course. One of them may be a good candidate for next year, but there’s just too much trail work needed to squeeze it into this year’s ride.
We will return to the same area soon to explore a couple of other candidates for a third off-road segment. I’m confident that we’ll be able to include something that’s challenging and fun. Stay tuned!