The Farmer's Daughter Gravel Grinder

Chatham, NY May 21, 2017

Report: Cyclocross Ride on Farmer’s Daughter Course

What a beautiful day for a ride! A small group of us decided to ride parts of the FDGG course yesterday (Sunday, 19 April) on our cyclocross bikes. All in all, we covered about 28 miles of the candidate course. It was, for me at least, a recovery ride after racing yesterday’s Tour of the Battenkill, but there’s not much recovery to be had in the rolling hills of Columbia County.

Dave Beals, Don Massone, Tim Leonard, Jon Stillman, and Jen Harvey

Dave Beals, Don Massone, Tim Leonard, Jon Stillman, and Jen Harvey

It was just a bit chilly when we started out at 10 AM, but sunny and almost no wind, and it warmed up quickly after we got started.  No promises that everything you’ll see here will make it to the final course, but much of it will. We didn’t start at the beginning of the planned course yesterday, and we took some diversions to explore, but everything you’ll see in the photos below will either be on the course or is representative of what you’ll see on the course. The dirt roads were in great condition; most sections of dirt road would even have been fine on a road bike yesterday, though you’d still be happier on a cross bike even for those. The dirt roads still contain regular potholes, occasional sections of small loose gravel, soft spots,  big bumps, etc.  Cross bikes are very helpful on those, and a necessity in the off-road sections.

The alpacas were soaking up the sun on their hillside, but perked up and stared at us as we rode past.

alpacas2

 

The dirt roads here were quite smooth, with the ruts we saw earlier in the season flattened out.

First "rest stop" :)

First “rest stop” 🙂

Beautiful scenery was abundant as we rode, with the landscape finally showing signs of life: green grass starting to come up, daffodils, and budding trees. It should be stunning in May.

Jen riding past a very old hay baler. It appears that it's still in use, too.

Jen riding past a very old hay baler. It appears that it’s still in use, too.

We descended to the river valley after a series of short climbs, rode along the Kinderhook Creek for a bit and then crossed it on a new steel decked bridge.

Riding along the Kinderhook Creek

Riding along the Kinderhook Creek after a lovely little descent on a quiet, winding dirt road.

After a short bit of paved road we started a very long section of dirt road, almost 10 miles with only one short interruption of pavement.

Don riding a dirt road descent.

Don riding a fast dirt road descent.

This is the picture they should put next to the word "bucolic" in the dictionary!

This is the picture they should put next to the word “bucolic” in the dictionary!

After a bit more climbing we made it to the spot where our first aid station will be. (Look for details on that soon, our sponsor Bountiful Bread has given us some information about what they’ve got planned, and it’s going to be incredible. You may just want to stay there for the rest of the day, 🙂 but we’ve got lots more in store for you ahead. )

 

Approaching where the first FDGG aid station will be.

Approaching where the first FDGG aid station will be, we pass this lovely pond on our left.

Shortly after that pond is the entrance to the second segment of off-road, and where we’ll have the aid station set up.

Into the woods!

Into the woods!

This trail section is in nice shape. There were a few shallow mud spots still there from the thaw, and some smaller tree roots on the path but everything was very rideable on the cross bikes. The trail tends to be pretty open, too, so it’s easy to hop off and walk for a few yards if something looks like it may be above your skill level. Here are a few photos to give you an idea of what it’s like.

HH Trail1

The trail, as we have it planned now, tends downhill, though there’s nothing too steep. If you look carefully here you can see the roots. Nothing too big, typical of what you’d see on a cyclocross course.

HH bridge

There are a couple of nice little bridges on the trail as well. No wet feet here. 🙂

 

Yes, there is a skinny or two, but as you can see, there are ride-arounds.

Yes, there is a skinny or two, but as you can see, there are ride-arounds.

This trail section takes you out to a paved road section that climbs for a bit, then it’s on to more dirt roads. We left the candidate course here and headed back to the start. We’ll cover more of the course for you as time and weather allow, but this should give you a pretty good sense of what to expect at the event itself.

When we got back to the starting point we all decided that we had the time and energy to do a loop of an area that I shared with you last week, the difference being that we had our cross bikes with us this time. Here are a few pictures of parts of that loop.

OO climb

Climbing up to the pavilion

OOskinnyCX

Same skinnies as last week, but now on CX bikes.

IMG_0014

Don stayed behind to take some pictures, now faces a solo climb up to the pavilion.

IMG_0012

Even in the fields there is a bit of climbing.

IMG_0017

Don makes it to the top, huffing and puffing, says that the climb wasn’t as hard as it looked :).

 

OOdowntopond

Back down to the pond and on to the parking lot where we started.

 

Jon Stillman • April 20, 2015


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