Shortly before each year’s event we publish a Farmer’s Daughter Ride Guide with last minute details about the course, logistics, etc. There’s also a lot of good information that would be helpful for you to have access to much earlier, so you may find value in reading last year’s ride guide early, keeping in mind that a few things may change.
Thanks for registering for the 2017 Farmer’s Daughter Gravel Grinder. Welcome old friends and new, we look forward to seeing you on Sunday! You’ll find below some things you’ll need to know. There’s a link to the final course, some important things you should bring (proof of identification, and cash), and a few reminders and suggestions that will help you have a great experience on the ride. Please read carefully and completely: even if you have participated in past years, several important things have changed.
The start and finish venue is at Crellin Park in Chatham NY. You can park there at no charge, there should be plenty of parking room for all, and volunteers to help you get parked in the right place. See the Directions page on this site for details and to generate custom directions using Google Maps. We hope you’ll agree that Crellin Park is a great spot for our event.
The ride will begin at 9:00 AM. Please arrive at a time that allows you plenty of time to get parked, set up, and checked in. There will be volunteers on hand to help you get parked in a convenient location. There are some permanent public restrooms on site, and a couple of portable toilets as well (near the check-in area). We’ll also have water available.
Aside from your biking equipment (see the section dedicated to this below), you should bring an official form of identification, e.g. driver’s license (you do want that free pint of ale at the finish, right?). Remember, your meal is included in this year’s event fee, so you won’t need cash for that, but you will if you want to purchase a meal for a family member or friend, or to purchase another pint of ale.
Check-in is from 7:00-8:30 on Sunday morning in the rear pavilion of Crellin Park
Find the appropriate line based on your last name, when it’s your turn we’ll check off your name and have you sign a waiver.
You’ll get 3 things at check-in:
- A commemorative Farmer’s Daughter cap.
- A commemorative Farmer’s Daughter water bottle.
- A commemorative Farmer’s Daughter pint glass.
- A wristband. Please put this on before starting the ride! It will be used to ensure that you have access to the aid stations and other support out on the course, it will get you access to your meal at the finish, and if you’re old enough to enjoy a free beer, it will get you that beer as well.
We’ll also have plenty of copies of the course cue sheets available at sign-in in case you need it. If you are using a downloaded file for navigation, please make sure that you have Andy’s and Jon’s cell numbers in case you need help: Andy Ruiz (518)495-6058, or Jon Stillman (518)368-8901. Those are also provided at the top of the cue sheets. Important: if you call us and can’t get through, please send us a text, not a voicemail. In spotty cell conditions, sometimes we can see that a voicemail has been left, but we have no signal to hear it. With a text message it’s much more likely that we’ll at least get some information quickly.
The ride will start from the staging area in Crellin Park at approximately 9:00. Please be prepared to gather around the pavilion at 8:50 for a few words from the organizers (last minutes updates, etc.) Remember that this is not a race. We do know that different people are riding the course with different aims: some will be riding very fast, some at a slightly less aggressive friendly group ride pace, and some out to enjoy the beautiful scenery at a pace that allows them to do so. This is a challenging course at any pace, and we think that there are different things to be gained at any pace. We do ask that you self-select where in the line you start: if you’re planning to be among the first groups to finish, get up toward the front; If you’re planning to enjoy the full day, take lots of rests, start at the back. Regardless, ride considerately throughout, and if you see someone in need of help, lend a hand. Obey all traffic laws, be good citizens out there, you’re riding in someone else’s home town, we want all of them to feel that this is a great event, too!
There’s no formal starting gun, we’re not timing anyone, so let’s keep the start relaxed, with plenty of room for everyone to get started safely.
Current Course Conditions
As of Thursday, the course is fast and fairly dry. Sunday’s weather is looking good, though We expect the course to be fairly dry and fast, with the possibility of a few short wet areas on the first couple of off-road segments. As is usual, this is the season when the local towns grade the dirt roads, so be aware that some of them may be less packed and smooth than others. We’ll provide an update on Sunday morning if there are any significant changes.
Getting the course map and cue sheet
You can now access the final course and cue sheet for the Farmer’s Daughter ride 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 download, the first from the aid station at mile ~27, and the second from the aid station at mile ~46. 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 in previous years, there are a few significant changes in the course: as we’ve mentioned above, the event venue is different. From the start at Crellin Park in Chatham, 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!
Notes on the Off-road Segments
There are 6 off-road segments on the course. Any of them may be being used by others, including walkers/hikers/runners, other cyclists, horses, dogs, etc., so please be careful and considerate. (Someone told us a couple of days ago that he saw a bobcat on the first section in broad daylight fairly recently.)
- The first is approximately 1/2 mile from the start, and begins with a gravel driveway, followed by a section of lawn, then a very short section of trail leading to about 3 miles of gently rising abandoned railbed. Though not technically challenging, this is not your typical paved or gravel rail trail; you may find the odd “feature” along the way, and as of Thursday there was still one section where there were still a couple of puddles, so keep your eyes open and ride carefully. This section, and the short but steep hills that precede and follow it, are a great way to warm yourself up for the rest of this epic ride.
- The second off-road section is a beautiful ride through the woods. It’s a mix of old farm road (tractor path) and singletrack, including one short bit of twisty turny singletrack fun with a very short but tricky hill (mound, really). Don’t get discouraged if you don’t make it up that, it’s tough. You’ll also cross three small streams in this section. The first two are easy to cross, they’re shallow, and have bedrock bases. There’s a short climb just after you cross the second stream, you may choose to hop off and walk for that climb, but it is rideable. Please do get off and ford the third stream crossing. You can remount once you’re across and back on some dry footing. The descent to that stream can be tricky, and the ground on the far side can be muddy for a bit. Once past the final stream you’ll climb a tractor path to the crest of the hill. There are many opportunities to see beautiful views of the Catskill Mountains off to your left here and on the dirt road descent that follows.
- The third off-road section is at a land conservancy called Hand Hollow. You’ll take a left turn off Gale Hill Rd. into the Hand Hollow parking lot at approximately mile 26. From there you’ll start a section of trail that may be somewhat more challenging than the first two. It is fairly wide and clean, but has roots you’ll need to get over, some small rocks to either ride around or over, and there may still be a short section of shallow mud here and there. None of it is more technical than what one might see on a cyclocross course, but there’s more of it in sequence. Remember, it’s not a race, there’s no penalty for hopping off and running or walking over an obstacle that you’re not comfortable with. There are plenty of challenges ahead :). Once you get through the woods you’ll cross a small field and arrive at the first full aid station, which has a great selection of delicious food for every taste, provided by sponsor Bountiful Bread. Enjoy, and catch your breath, you’re not quite halfway through the course, and the next section of about 10 miles has a series of dirt road rollers that are the toughest you’ll encounter all day.
- The fourth off-road section is at the final aid station at Beebe Forest, which is at approximately mile 47. We recommend that you refresh yourself first, then tackle the little loop behind the aid station parking lot. This section is mostly singletrack, and is the most technically challenging on the course. It’s a small, fun loop of about 1/3 mile, but it has several parts that are more technically challenging than you’ll see on a typical cyclocross course. If you’ve felt very challenged on the other trail sections you might want to skip this part. Otherwise, give it a try, but be ready to hop off several times for an obstacle that you may not feel safe going over. This is the one trail section where you really do need to choose your line, especially on a cross bike. It’s all rideable by a competitive cyclocross rider, but there’s no shame in skipping it, either, especially this far into your ride.
- Once you’re done with this singletrack loop you’ll leave the parking lot go across the road to a quick left onto a short dirt road, then across Rte. 5 onto an access road to Beebe Forest (you’ll go around a steel gate and over a short gravel dam. This is the 5th off-road section, and is a relatively tame jeep trail, but has a very steep grassy climb early on. Cyclocross bike riders will need plenty of strength left to make it all the way up this. It’s thankfully short, and not bad at all on a mountain bike, but it may be a cyclocross run-up for many. After that climb there’s one more hill, much less tough than the last, before you come to a T in the road. For those hardy folks who are interested, take a right to go just a bit further uphill to the Beebe State Forest fire tower. It’s only a couple of minutes ride, and you can dismount and climb the tower for a great view if conditions are right. Otherwise, take the left, you’ll enjoy a nice long downhill ride on a pretty smooth jeep trail before leaving the state forest.
- The sixth and final section is approximately 58.5 miles into the ride, at the Ooms Conservation Area at Sutherland Pond. The Ooms section circumnavigates Sutherland Pond and on a sunny day provides gorgeous views of the countryside. It is composed mostly of wide mowed grassy paths, and is a nice off-road ride. It’s mostly easy going, but there are a couple of steep climbs in Ooms, one in a field, and the other in the woods going up to the gazebo. After you exit Ooms, you’re almost done, and the rest is a fun, mostly downhill ride on a great dirt road followed by a short bit of pavement.
Some Important Reminders
All of the roads on the course will be open to traffic. Please stay on the right side of the roads at all times and obey NYS traffic laws. That means full stops at stop signs! We want everyone to get back safely, and we want our hosts along the course to continue to welcome us every year.
You must ride with a CPSC-approved cycling helmet. No helmet, no ride. We also recommend that everyone wear or carry some form of identification such as a Road ID bracelet or even just a handwritten identification card.
Ride particularly carefully on the dirt roads. Tempting as it may be to bomb down the descents, they may have blind curves, gravel, potholes, oncoming cars, and other potential hazards, so stay within your ability to maneuver and stop quickly if you need to do so. Also, it’s smart to maximize your recovery time on the long descents following climbs. This course has lots of rollers and very few flat spots, so if you speed through the descents you may find yourself at the bottom of the next climb before you’re fully recovered.
Please do not try to pre-ride the off-road sections. These are almost entirely private or otherwise regulated properties, for which we have use permission and insurance only for the event on Sunday. A number of people have generously opened up their land for your use, and the course is as rich as it is because of that generosity. If some abuse their trust it will be very difficult for us to create a similarly great course next year.
Several of the off-road sections may have hikers on them on Sunday. We do not have exclusive access. They will know that there are going to be cyclists on the trails. Please be aware, respectful, and safe. Don’t go bombing around that blind bend, there may be a family of hikers on the other side.
Please remember to thank the volunteers and sponsors you encounter out there. They’ve come together (and given up their own Sunday rides) to help you have a great day, and many of them will be out there even longer than you will. To a person, they are here because of a love of cycling and an interest in maintaining and growing a rich cycling community.
At the Finish
The last leg of the course, approximately 5 miles long, keeps you on nice quiet roads, mostly dirt and trending downhill until very close to the finish at Crellin Park. For almost all of you, there will be live entertainment in the pavilion by the time you arrive, so get into some comfortable clothes, grab your free pint of beer fresh from the tap from Chatham Brewing, and enjoy some good food.
The food is provided by the Columbia County Rotary. For many, that will be a barbecued chicken dinner. These folks provided a great meal to our cyclists last year, and we invited them to do it again for us this year. For those of us who are vegetarians, they will also have a nice vegan offering.
The optimal bike for this ride is either a cyclocross bike or a hardtail mountain bike. We designed the course with cyclocross bikes in mind, but since it’s not a race, mountain bikes, while a bit slower out on the roads, have lower gearing that makes it easier to spin up the hills. Mountain bikes are likely be a better fit for people who don’t have experience with riding cyclocross bikes off-road, too. For many, a fairly light hardtail mountain bike will be at least as fast as a cyclocross bike.
For cyclocross bikes with two chainrings, we recommend that your small chainring be at most 34 tooth, and that you have a cassette with it’s largest cog having at least 28 teeth, preferably 30 or more. Most of the hills aren’t terribly steep for long, but there are a couple that will have you wishing you had a lower gear no matter what you have! An all-purpose CX tire would be fine in most conditions, something along the lines of the Clement MXP, Kenda small block 8, or Michelin mud 2, for instance. You can ride the entire course with file treads; several of us have done it. You’ll be a bit more confident through any muddy or wet grass conditions, though, if you have an all-purpose tire. I’ve ridden the course with both, and didn’t feel that I gave up much (if any) speed by using my Mud 2s. For the conditions it looks like we’ll have on Sunday, though, I’d ride with a nice file-treaded tire. The dirt roads are hard-packed and fast, and the trails are also pretty dry, with very few wet spots and no deep mud. I hesitate to give advice on what pressure to set for cyclocross tires on this course, but if you’re really stumped and want one person’s opinion, I can offer you what I’ve found works for this course and the expected weather conditions. I shoot for something in the 45-50 psi range. That gives me a bit of cushion for what I’m likely to encounter on the trails without having the bike feel too mushy and slow on the roads.
We’ve also got a few fat-bike riders who’ll be out on the course on their fat-bikes. We’d suggest that they’re fine for the course, though only if you have a good bit of experience riding them in endurance events.
Please do not bring a standard road bike. They simply aren’t equipped for the off-road sections, regardless of the tires you’ve got on them, and risk being unsafe.
Accessories and Nutrition
Don’t forget your helmet! You should have at least 2 bottle cages on your bike, and start the ride with two bottles filled with whatever you prefer for a long ride. Some CX bikes only have bosses for one cage. In that case, we encourage you to carry at least one more bottle in a jersey pocket. Camelbaks are fine, too, for those so inclined. There will be water available at the aid stations at miles 16.5, 27.5, 39, and 47.5, with electrolyte mix also available at the aid stations at miles 27.5 and 47.5.
Your saddle bag should contain at least the following:
- CO2 pump head
- 3 CO2 cartridges
- 2 spare tubes
- tire lever(s)
We’ll have limited roaming support to help with flats and mechanical issues, and more at the aid stations, but the best way to get moving again quickly after a flat is to have what you need with you on the bike.
Also, pack emergency money, cue sheet, and your cell phone in a ziploc bag to be carried in your jersey. Cell coverage is spotty on the course, but not absent.
We have lots of good food and hydration at the aid stations, but it’s still a good idea to have something in your jersey pockets in case you get lost, miss or skip an aid station and regret it later, or just find that you’re bonking and need some food energy between stops.
Still have Questions?
If you have any further questions, please post here in the comments, we’ll answer promptly.