First off, some good news. I just checked the weather forecast for tomorrow, and the threat of a possible thunderstorm has been removed. Overall, both weather.com and accuweather.com are predicting a better day than they had been. Here’s what accuweather.com has to say: “Clouds and breaks of sun, a brief shower or two in the morning, then breezy.” Temps in the 70s. So a pretty good day for a ride!
A stalwart group of volunteers helped us mark the course today, and the weather was cool and rainy as predicted. No real downpours, but a steady middling rain through much of the day.
Here’s what we found out on the course that’s relevant to you (and not already covered in the 2018 Ride Guide, which we urge you to go through if you haven’t already. http://www.farmersdaughtergravelgrinder.com/ride-guide/)
The dirt roads are well-packed and firm, but for some you’ll need to navigate around potholes and rivulets in spots, and we encourage you to ride conservatively, as traction may be unpredictable in spots during dry weather or wet.
The off-road sections may feature soggy grass and puddling in spots, e.g. the rail-trail, Beebe Forest climb, and the Ooms loop. Others will have muddy spots, especially after a number of riders have gone through. The Highland section features 3 stream crossings; after the third is always a bit muddy. This year, it’s quite muddy. Almost everyone will find themselves getting off the bike and walking partway up the hill there. The Hand Hollow section is much like it was last year: good grip in the first half, though with some wet rooty sections, and several short, shallow muddy sections in the second half. In general, if you’re not sure of yourself in a section there, get off and walk it, you won’t lose much time, and it will be safer for you. Riding over wet roots is a skill. If you haven’t learned how to ride them, walk. If you do need to walk a section, please be considerate of others behind you who are riding through.
Overall, the course is likely to be a bit more challenging than in a dry year, but not terribly so, especially if things dry out through the day as they’re predicted to be.
One final thing we’d like to communicate to you. Those of you who have ridden the course in prior years will know that we pride ourselves on providing you with a well-marked course that’s very hard to get lost on. We’ve done our best again this year, but we’re not confident that the orange paint we use to support cue sheets, signage, and downloaded directions is going to hold up well to the rain. We strongly encourage you to carry a cue sheet with you even if you have downloaded the course to an electronic device, and pay attention to your mileage. Even in the best of cases, every once in a while someone removes a sign from where we’ve placed it, and you may not have a painted arrow to fall back on this year.
Andy and I are looking forward to seeing each of you tomorrow, and to helping you all have a great ride!