The 2018 Course

The 2018 Course has not yet been determined, but we expect it to be very similar to the 2017 course, which you can access here.  There is a map and annotated cue sheet. For those of you who want to download the file to your GPS devices, click on the “Export” tab in the upper right hand corner of the page, where you’ll find links and directions for downloading .tcx files and .gpx files, along with directions for a number of devices. Note that the off-road parts of the course are approximations, so be sure and follow the arrows in the off-road sections and not your GPS device. Similarly, the cue sheet does not provide directions in the off-road sections, just follow the arrows. For similar reasons, the stated distances on the cue sheets are likely to be slightly inexact. The feedback we received in past years was that the course was very well marked, and that most didn’t need to refer to the cue sheets; that’s our objective again this year, but bring it along in some form so that you can refer to it if you need to do so.

In addition to the official course, there are two “go directly to the finish” routes available for the 2017 event, the first from the aid station at mile ~27, and the second from the aid station at mile ~46. Again, we anticipate minor changes for 2018. There will also be paper copies of the cue sheets available at those two aid stations. We hope that every participant plans to ride the entire course, but it is a challenging ride, and it may not be your day on Sunday. These two opt-out routes will get you back to the finish on well-traveled paved roads as easily as we can. They are not supported parts of the course, though. There are no signs, and no roving support, you’ll have to rely on the cue sheets (which are very simple). If you do get into a fix, you can still call Andy or me, and we’ll do our best to help you.

For those of you who have ridden with us previously but missed the 2017 event,  we introduced last year a few significant changes in the course: the event starts at Crellin Park in Chatham, from which you’ll take a right turn onto Rte. 66. In about 1/2 mile you’ll take a sharp left turn that climbs immediately, you might want to be ready for that! You’ll ride up a hill that curves to the left and takes you to a short trail access to an old rail trail, which you’ll probably be on for 15-25 minutes. After leaving the rail trail, you’ll ride a short bit and come to the singletrack section that used to be shortly after the Ooms Preserve loop. From there, everything you’ll ride is the same as the old courses, with two exceptions: first, the Ooms Preserve loop is now almost at the end of the course (it has been the very first off-road section on the course). Second is that the very end of the ride is different in that it takes you to the new venue. We think you’ll find these changes create an experience that flows even better than the original and gets you onto the surfaces you’re there for much more quickly!

You’re free to ride on any of the roads at any time, but most of the off-road sections are not open to public use except on the day of the event, so do not ride on these. They’re on private property or property that’s not typically open for cycling, and riding on them may risk our being barred from using them. Landowners have been generous in opening them up at all. I put together directions for a modified course that will give you almost the full loop but without the off-road sections that you should avoid. You can find the 2017 version of that here.

If you’re pre-riding the course, be prepared for whatever conditions the dirt roads may be in (they are typically well-maintained, but dirt roads in springtime can be unpredictable, sometimes dry and dusty, sometimes soggy or even muddy in spots). We are usually able to ride most of the course by mid-April with only a couple of dirt road sections that were in rough shape. We’ll also be scouting out the course at about the same time this year, and will post condition reports.

This is a challenging course, though not designed to be excessively so. Andy’s and my intention in designing it was to provide an experience where even highly experienced cyclist would finish thinking “that was really hard, and it was a lot of fun,” and the rest of us would go slower, spend more time at the aid stations, get off and walk once in a while when something looked a bit too daunting, and still finish with the same thought: truly an epic ride that left us tired, tested, yet with a smile on our faces.

Some of you will want to ride hard through the entire course to see how fast you can do it, and that’s definitely a fun way to do it (please remember to respect the traffic laws, though, we do not stop traffic on the course).  Go a bit slower and you’ll find that there’s hardly a spot on the course that isn’t beautiful, and you’ll have time to get to know some of the folks around you. Also, if you’re not an experienced racer, you’ll be much more likely to make it through the entire course if you take it at a moderate pace; parts of it are tough! The entire course consists of rolling hills, none terribly long, but rollers can wear you down: you spend a lot more time working your way up than you do recovering on the way down.

You can expect to be doing a lot of climbing, and spending most of your time off the pavement on either dirt roads or off-road single or double track trails. All roads will be open to motor traffic.


20 thoughts on “Course

  1. Hi , I’ve never done a gravel grinder but done other events. I am wondering what kind of tires do you recommend since this have some off pavement riding?

    1. Hi Paul, I’ve written about this in the Ride Guide page elsewhere on this site, in a section called “The Bike”. Although not fully updated on the course for 2018 quite yet, you’ll find lots of good information there. If you still have questions, please post something here again. We do not as a rule recommend standard road bikes for the course, the skinny (<30mm in width) tires, rim brakes, road-oriented gearing, etc. all make it a bad fit for parts of the course.

  2. i am into gravel for a year now and have ridden 5 gravel ride/races. how much techy single track or sketchy downhill sections does this course have. i am ok with climbing and rollers.


    1. Hi Larry, It’s difficult to answer your question, since what one would as “techy” or “sketchy” is highly subjective and also subject to weather conditions. The majority of the course is dirt roads, then a few miles of pavement. The off-road sections are mostly a mix of grassy railtrail and not particularly technical single and double-track. We designed the course to be rideable on cyclocross bikes by cyclists with experience riding that type of bike on that type of trails. Many cyclists are less experienced with that type of riding, and will walk a few short parts, especially if conditions are wet, which they can be in May. One thing that will likely be helpful is that you’ll almost certainly be with a group, and you can watch what others are doing and decide whether you want to try to ride through or walk. The most technical section is a small loop behind the final aid station; it’s easy to skip if you’ve found the earlier stuff overly challenging. As for sketchy downhills, there are some long downhill sections on dirt roads, we always advise cyclists to take their time on those descents. I’m glad you like climbing and rollers, you’ll find lots of that out on the course, and some great scenery. I hope this answer is helpful. There are also a few YouTube videos from last year that show parts of the course that might help you assess whether it’s something you want to try.

  3. I read through everything and I didn’t see where there is a time cut off. Is that correct or did I miss seeing it?

    1. Hi Deana, I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere on the site, but to answer your question, we have a soft cut-off between 6 and 6:30 PM. We have vehicle support that drives through the latter parts of the course and will pick up people who want a ride to the finish and people who won’t make it in before 6:30. We also have a couple of points at which you can pick up a cue sheet for a shortcut back to the finish, and we have mobile mechanical support that will also take you back at any point in the course should you want it. We haven’t lost anyone yet, and everyone who has wanted to ride in under their own power has been allowed to do so as long as it’s reasonably close to the cut-off time.

  4. Based on your comments on the CX bike choice, I was wondering if a colnago cx-zero with 34-28 as the smallest gearing and gravel/ cross tires would be ok – would it be ok or would I need a proper cross bike?

    1. Hi Ray,
      Sorry to be slow in responding to you, I missed your query. I’m not particularly familiar with the bike in question, but a quick look online says that its maximum clearance is for 28mm tires. If that’s so, I’d say that you’d probably be much happier with a wider tire, e.g., CX’s 33mm or wider. It’s also a hilly course, with lots of rollers and a few tough climbs in the middle section. Unless you’ve got monster legs you’re going to want something easier than a 34×28 or you can count on mashing some gears. So I’d not recommend the bike you ask about as being ideal, but some people have ridden the course on beefed up road bikes. For most, a CX bike, a gravel bike, or a hardtail 29er, for instance, would be better bets for the course.

  5. You realize that the latest map is completely different that the one you had up a few days ago. This is the old 2015 course. Is this a real change or a boo-boo on someones part?

    1. Sorry,I forgot to update this page in the last couple of days. The correct course was published and is on the first page of the site, and was also in the official 2017 ride guide. I’m sorry if that caused you any confusion. Thanks for pointing out the omission.

    1. Hi Tim,
      I’m not going to venture an opinion on this other than I’d try it first with a multi-geared bike. The course has a bit of almost everything: lots of rollers, a few longer and steep climbs, doubletrack, singletrack,a couple of very steep short hills, over 6100 feet of climb in 67 mostly unpaved surfaces. you should be able to download last year’s course to get a sense of the terrain profile. If you’ve done something similar with a singlespeed, use the same if it worked for you. Or you might want to look to something like the Leadville 100 MTB race. Their hills are longer and just as steep, but they also have some pavement, some flats, etc. People who race that with single-speed 29ers typically use a 32 up front and something between 18 and 20 in back. If you’re committed to riding FDGG with a singlespeed, something along those lines might be the right configuration.

  6. Are you posting a link to the downloadable course for this year, or should we just use last year’s and download from that?

    1. Hi Will,

      I think my response to Spencer immediately above should answer your question, too.

  7. Hi Jon,
    I think you mentioned that you might “move” the first off road section that goes around the pond to the end of the ride to avoid the back up at the beginning.
    So, we should adjust the mile posts on the route sheet to accomidate for the change?

    1. Hi Spencer, I do plan to adopt the course and provide a slightly modified course, not quite as you described. The Ooms section remains the first off-road section, but we’re changing the first piece of that loop to be the last. Basically, there’s a second entrance to the Ooms Preserve, about 1/8 mile further down the road from the one we used last year, that bypasses the little bridge-and-skinny section that became a bottleneck for some last year and puts you into Ooms where you went into the fields from which you’ll do the same loop, just with that little bridge-and-skinny section at the end of the Ooms loop, after the group has been broken up a bit by the rest of the loop.

      We won’t release an official version of the 2016 course until a couple of days before the event. We’ll give you time to download it, but when you’re working with as much dirt road and off-road as we do for FArmer’s Daughter, there are sometimes last minute issues with roads getting washed out or excessively muddy trails needing to be routed around, etc., and we’ll want to have time to make any necessary changes. However, our plan is just the one modification I described above, so downloading the 2015 course should be very close to what you’ll ride.

    1. With one very small exception, the full course will be the same as last year, which we’ve posted. The off-road sections are approximate, but very close, and very well marked. As for the opt-out routes, if you need to cut your ride short we’ll have routes available for you at the two main aid stations, just ask there. They are not incorporated into the full course, and not “official”. There’s one course, which we encourage everyone to shoot to complete. Having said that, we realize that sometimes it’s just not happening for you, so we will provide cue sheets at those two places for paved road routes back to the fairgrounds. There will also be support vehicles out on the course that can help you get back.

  8. Why not post a map? I’m sure people would like to do this or parts of this throughout the year. There’s a new app I’ve been trying out that is a co-venture between the coop REI and the International Mountain Biking Association. Here’s our local trail which I just posted. It’s not official yet, as they have a vetting process. The 3-D function is surprisingly good, especially if you have photos you can post along the way.

    1. Hi Michael, There is a map linked in the first paragraph of the Course Page that you posted your comment on, together with a detailed description of some constraints on use of the course, which I hope everyone adheres to in the spirit of keeping our event in the good graces of the local people who have generously allowed us to used their land for that day. I see that you haven’t registered for our event; I hope that you do join us this year, it’s a great ride and after-ride experience. Jon

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