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Thread: September rides

  1. #1
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    September rides

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    Well, we are now in my favorite cycling month. Today's weather matched it, too. So many weeks of 90+ degrees and humidity. Ugh. We started our ride at about 68 degrees and clear/sunny. It got up to about 78, with some clouds.
    Did the ride we were going to do Saturday, which ended up being 45 miles. It wasn't anywhere I haven't been, just a couple of roads we usually do in the other direction. Took a longer, circuitous way to get out to Bolton, which is very hilly, but then we turned off to head back on a road we love, and usually only do after a very hard climb that we haven't done in 2 years. The last bigger climb is called Long Hill Rd... it lives up to its name, but it is worse going the other way. This is actually the street the school I taught in is on, but it is in another town. The part we were on is very rural, small farms, and large properties. Once you cross the town line, about 3/4 a mile from my school, it's like there's hardly any greenery and lots of smaller homes close together. This is very typical of New England. We turned left right before this demarcation, down a lovely mile long hill that was part of my commute when I first started riding. We stopped at a park with a covered ramada to eat our sandwiches, and soldiered on. I felt tired at this point, and actually had some cramping, not bad, though, in my quads and calves. Somewhere along the way, I had to stop and eat a Shot Block.
    So nice to not be dealing with heat. Going to go stretch!
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
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    2011 Guru Praemio
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  2. #2
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    Sounds like a nice ride, Crankin!

    I too love September rides. I took yesterday off after riding three days in a row; felt like my body really needed a break. Today my DH's hip was barking at him (he'd ridden four straight days), so I did a solo ride. Same temps as yours but 18% humidity here in Grand Teton NP! It was beautiful but verrrrry windy out. Upper teens to lower 20s sustained, with gusts to 30+. I did basically a square, so I experienced everything from amazingly wonderful tailwinds that had me easily pedaling at 20+ to headwinds that made even downhill stretches feel like hills. The crosswinds were scary as they were either blowing me off the road or into traffic (fortunately there was very little).

    The main purpose of this ride was to pick up a packet of mail we'd had forwarded here at a post office just two miles down the road from our campground. I passed the PO at the beginning of the ride but didn't feel like dragging the mail with me for the entire "square" so decided to get it at the end of the ride instead. Due to the wind, I bit off a bit more than I could chew and made it to the PO with only 15 minutes to spare before they closed for the day. I'd figured on a 25 mile ride but ended up with 38.2 instead!

    Fall starts early here:

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    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    north woods of Wisconsin
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    Yup, must be September. Had to wear leggings to start my ride, yesterday, but typical September, things warmed up, nicely.

    My 23 mile ride turned out to be more of an adventure than I anticipated, though. Decided I needed to wean myself out of so much single track MTB work and figured riding gravel roads would make for a nice transition before getting serious on pavement. Headed to one of my favorite (and nastiest) sections of gravel road. About 4 miles in, stopped at an intersection with a gated road off to the side. Had stopped there, before, but this time I read some of the fine print on the posted map of the area (all managed forest land, owned by the country). Read in the fine print that bicycles and foot traffic are allowed on the gated roads, but no vehicles when the gates are up and the gates stay up all year long expect for deer season. Great!

    Hoisted the bike over the gate and with the map still in mind, took off down the gravel road. Now, keep in mind, this is a remote area and there was a very good chance that I was the first person to use these roads all summer long. For sure, saw no sign of anyone having used them and, given the way the roads were washed out in spots, obviously the county hadn't maintained them for some time. The roads were actually pretty decent, overall, though, having been closed to vehicle traffic. Much better shape than the 4 miles of tortured gravel and sand roads open to ATV traffic that I needed to ride to get to this spot.

    Glorious riding. Total serenity, total privacy and lots of wildlife sign, including what were some possible wolf droppings and some that were very definitely bear and tracks of both in places. Yup, I was in heaven.

    Somewhere along the way, though, missed a turn in the network of roads, so, okay, I was lost. Had a compass, though, and figured if I just kept tracking west, I would eventually come out on a highway I knew. I was right. 9 miles, later, through some awesomely wild country, came to another gate with the highway on the other side, just as predicted.

    Needed to ride two miles on this very busy highway to get back to my local paved road that would take me the several miles home, though. No problem, not with my Trek 29er plus Stashe with its 3" tires - a bike I use for these isolated backroads which often turn to sand. Even though the highway did have a narrow paved shoulder, just rode the Stashe out onto the much wider gravel shoulder for safety's sake. Actually, the Stashe handled riding this much better maintained gravel with ease and no problem keeping a reasonable 12 to 13 mph pace. Another discovery! With this bike, I could ride this highway and others like it in the area by taking the wide gravel shoulders with this bike. (Note: our highways have these wide gravel shoulders for the sake of handling all our snow in the winter.)

    This discovery really is a gold mine for me. Probably 20 miles of these gated gravel roads in this area to explore and all just a short 7 mile ride or so from my house. Will return soon, but this time with a printed map or maybe it's time for me to buy that long overdue GPS.

    23 miles total, 14 of which were awesome, remote gravel.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 09-03-2016 at 09:23 AM.

  4. #4
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    Buy the GPS...
    Both DH and I really were feeling our ride from yesterday. So, first, we walked to the farm, bought our veggies, and walked home, about 2 miles. The, after lunch, we took what we thought might be a 12-15 mile flat ride, but ended up being 10 miles of rolling terrain. We took it very slowly and I ended up feeling good. I should hike tomorrow, still worried about my trip, but I would prefer to ride.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
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    2011 Guru Praemio
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  5. #5
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    Sounds like an epic ride, NWG -- great that you can handle riding those gravel highway shoulders!

    We rode into Jackson (WY) from the campground at Grand Teton NP and made a lot of stops in town: farmer's market (very nice, but had to pass on a $30 huckleberry pie we wanted, once we heard the price! ), health food store, bank, ice cream parlor (a $5 scoop of delicious, organic huckleberry ice cream sufficed to quell my h-berry craving!), and bakery. Busy day in town, of course, being a Saturday and Labor Day weekend. An excellent ride, marred only by a motorcyclist who yelled at us because we didn't put our feet down at a 4-way stop sign. We did "stop", or very close to it, and no one was coming, so we went on. So he was right, I suppose, but he was so nasty in his approach than he and my DH ended up in a cussing match, and I was nervous because for all I knew, he could have been packing (this is the wild west, after all), and I could just see him pulling out a gun and shooting my DH over something so stupid.

    Testosterone!

    Got in 32 miles.
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  6. #6
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    Sep 2013
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    Montreal, QC
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    A nice 70km ride today. Perfect weather. My dream weather has started. Although it will be very hot for the next week or so. I took it today. Very welcomed. I had planned 80km but the last 10km I knew I was pushing my knees too much. Even the front/back of my thighs were talking to me. So instead of pushing myself and injure my knees for nothing, I told husband to do the last stretch (he's much faster and stronger than me) by himself and I'd do the last 2.4km on my own and would wait for him at this bike rest area. It is safe and lots of people around. I will put some Voltaren on my knees tonight to avoid swelling, etc.

    Overall, I am so happy of my ride. It is not an easy one and managed good time/speed on it.

    Thought of going for an easy and shorter one tomorrow but we'll see how my knees are in the morning. Since we're at campground, that means we also have to walk the dogs a lot vs being home in our closed yard. So it adds to our "exercises".

    I also signed up with my PT/Kineo for a yoga class starting on Sept. 12. She said she will give me options for the exercises that would be too hard on my knees (like the warrior position).

    I just can't wait for summer to go away and bring me decent weather so I can come out of my hole (like a bear in the winter - but me it is summer).
    Helene
    Riding a 2014 Specialized Amira LS4 Expert - aka The Zebra!
    2015 Specialized Crux e5 - aka Bora Bora bike

  7. #7
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    May 2013
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    Nwg…if you do go GPS and if any of the trails/roads you find on your rides aren’t GPS mapped be a friend to others and upload your tracklogs and any additional info you want to give about the routes into OpenStreetMaps…..would help you too on future ride maps and you may even find other mappers in the area!!!

    Emily….enjoy the Teton area, beautiful country and huckleberry anything ftw!! …and tell DH that the motorcyclist would probably have shot you too as a witness.

    Just a pleasant ride down the beach bike path to lunch with friends in Manhattan Beach and then the Playa Vista farmers market on the way home for us…. 23 miles and o’henry peaches, greens, heirloom tomatoes, veggies, olive bread and cheese to have for the longer weekend.
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rebeccaC View Post
    Emily….enjoy the Teton area, beautiful country and huckleberry anything ftw!! …and tell DH that the motorcyclist would probably have shot you too as a witness.

    Just a pleasant ride down the beach bike path to lunch with friends in Manhattan Beach and then the Playa Vista farmers market on the way home for us…. 23 miles and o’henry peaches, greens, heirloom tomatoes, veggies, olive bread and cheese to have for the longer weekend.
    Sounds like a perfect ride and haul (well, except for the olive bread, me no likie olives, but DH loves 'em). And you're right about the motorcyclist! Thank goodness we were right in town. If we'd been in the boonies, we might really have had to worry.

    Agreed on the huckleberry...nom nom! Had never had it til we got to this part of the country.
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  9. #9
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    May 2013
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    north woods of Wisconsin
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    Thanks to all on recommending the GPS. Given my love of exploring out of the way places, not to mention my really bad sense of direction, I really do need togged a GPS for the bike. Made a huge difference in my peace of mind when I bought one for the car.

    Thought I would share some pics of the gravel roads I ride. Illustrates how gravel road biking is so varied and even downright unpredictable. That, of course, is the attraction for me. All it takes is a change in the weather, a change in traffic, when and how often the road is maintained and how it is maintained and you find yourself having to ride the same road, differently, than you rode it the day before. Cool.

    For instance, here's what I was riding, today, 12 miles worth plus another 20 on pavement to get there and back. Very good quality, all hard pack and well-maintained because there are scattered homes along the roads in this area and the county keeps up the roads. Pebble sized gravel, though, so not real comfy to ride, but predictable and safe and, of course, lovely. With the right bike, keeping a 10-14 mph pace is easy to do.


    Here's what you get when there are no homes along a road, so little maintenance, but still open to traffic and ATVs. Even on a fat bike, I sometimes have trouble, often taking to the woods on the side to bypass these areas. Just getting through without having to walk is an accomplishment.


    or


    For a walk on the wild side, these are the gated timber roads closed to vehicle traffic that I rode, earlier this week. So remote that they get maintenance maybe every few years. Actually pretty decent to ride, but you never know what you will encounter. 9 miles before you see a house, sign or so much as a human footprint. Very much on your own to get back out.


    Sometimes, you even wonder if there is a road.


    And sometimes you do have to get creative


    Still, compared to typical single track in our area, ANY road is a luxury. (Leave your road bike, at home.)


    Breaking out to pavement after a long gravel workout is truly heavenly.


    Thanks for riding with me on this little tour of my gravel roads.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 09-04-2016 at 05:20 PM.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for sharing, NWG! I kinda know what you experience based on our several gravel rides during our trip from south to north this summer. We rode some that looked just like your first photo, and a couple like your second, but none quite as bad as some of your later photos, other than one forest road that turned into an overgrown trail, so eventually we had to turn around and ride the five miles back out.

    I am totally with you on the emergence to pavement -- it feels like a dream after riding the bumps!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  11. #11
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    Feb 2005
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    Looks like fun! I've ridden my road bike on roads like your first picture, but I don't like it, and definitely need another bike, so I can feel more confident and ride some roads like picture #2.
    Part of the dirt road we hiked on yesterday looks like #2 and #3. Quite a few years ago, I was on a group ride where they were going to take it as a short cut. I had never been there, and although the first part of the road is fine for a road bike, I had a bad feeling. I left the group and rode back to the start...
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
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    2011 Guru Praemio
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
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    Thanks, all.

    You can comfortably ride a standard 700x25 road bike on a well maintained gravel road as in the first pic- have done it on this road - but the gravel needs to be firm and evenly spread to ride with confidence. Even then, you need to be constantly on the alert, because, as I said, conditions on gravel roads can change by the day. My 700x35 Salsa Warbird, though, just screams down that road, but, then, the Warbird is actually a gravel specific road bike designed for hard pack.

    When things turn soft and loose, I've found that there is a direct relationship between tire width and performance in the soft stuff. On the second and third pic, my 2" 26er and 2.2" 29er were not good. Did a lot of walking. My 3" 29er plus was much better and the 4.8" fat bike, best of all. Also found that rear suspension helps. Gets better traction in the soft stuff than a hardtail MTB, but not enough to make up the difference with going wider on the tires.

    Should also mention that the experience factor helps, here. Lots of technique involved riding these roads that you don't use on pavement. If you are a die-hard pavement rider, take your time. Practicing on a variety of these roads really helps.

    Given that I have to ride some miles on pavement to get to these areas, my 3" 29er is my best compromise. Actually pleasant, though not super fast, on pavement. Probably the perfect bike for remote road riding (but too stiff and bumpy on tough single track, since no suspension). The fat bike is agonizingly slow and cumbersome on pavement.

    3" Trek Stashe (That's bear spray in the bottle cage.)
    Last edited by north woods gal; 09-05-2016 at 08:47 AM.

  13. #13
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    Your handlebar bag looks like it could be a Revelate Design one, but I don't see it on their site. Could you tell me what bag is that? I have an Ortlieb bag which is very nice, but I'd have to remove the stem with the handlebar to pack the bike for traveling. How does your bag connect?

  14. #14
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    Yeah, I know that kind of riding takes practice, of which I am loathe to do. That's why I stopped mountain biking. I don't naturally have the skills, I have a high fear factor, and I always had the nagging feeling I was missing out on road miles. I have less of a fear factor, 10 years later, but I am still debating what kind of bike to get for the third bike. It will have to meet a lot of criteria for uses, but mostly, I am interested in gravel/dirt road riding and not traditional mountain biking.
    We didn't plan anything today, as we thought it would be raining from the hurricane. However, it's sunny, so we went out around 11:30 for a short ride around town. The wind started picking up considerably as we got near home and now, I would not want to be out there. We are not going to get the rain we need desperately, but at least it will hold off until later, into tomorrow.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
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    2011 Guru Praemio
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    north woods of Wisconsin
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    wnyrider, that's a Banjo Brothers bag. They're a small outfit out of Minneapolis. Very good bags at very affordable prices. Just happened to notice them at a local bike shop, this summer, and thought I would give one a try. Liked it so much went back and bought another. Amazing bag for just $30.

    Cranking, any MTB will do well on normal gravel roads as in the first pic. It's only when you try the really abused, neglected or remote gravel roads as in some of the other pics that you need to get more bike specific. Don't think you'd like those nasty gravel/sand roads, anyway, since you'll have to deal with the same fear factor. Like you, I'm cautious by nature and it took a lot of practice, not to mention psyching myself up, to get where I'm comfortable with the rough roads.

    Since I'm also a road biker like you, I would strongly suggest a 700x35 or 700x40 class road bike if you don't already have one. Definitely gravel worthy as long as the gravel or dirt is at least somewhat hard packed. A 700x35, though, is also very useful on pavement. Handles rough pavement better than a standard 700x25, carries a load better and does better in rain. I've even used a 700x35 with studded tires in the snow. As long as the snow is only a couple of inches deep, actually works good. Makes for a great commuting bike. Have even used it on firm, smooth single track. To be honest, I ride my 700x35 Salsa Warbird much more on pavement than my 700x25 Domane, mostly because I have more options as to what roads I ride and was weather I might encounter.

    The Warbird is advertised as a gravel road, road bike and most other brands have versions, too. They have a more comfortable geometry than cyclocross bikes, but they still give you great speed. My average speed on the Warbird is the same as with the Domane. Don't confuse these with hybrids for casual riding. These are serious road bikes.

    My Salsa Warbird
    Last edited by north woods gal; 09-05-2016 at 06:04 PM.

 

 

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