Our morning began with rain, mist, a wet blanket mummifying all. That said, I believe it was Timothy that got the coffee water started and the breakfast of sausages and Pop-tarts set the stage for what would be very interesting day. We drove and parked at Heidelberg to avoid the 2 miles of climbing Pat and I did last summer. My camera was jacked at this point, so I have no pictures of the lovely blue bridge, but Timothy took this one.
The roll out from Heidelberg was very chill, as was the turn onto Crestmont. Spencer's Ridge, though, provided us with a warm-up, a nasty grind of up to a mile with lots of pitches in the 10%s. I decided not to burn too many matches so walked a couple sections. I believe Timothy cleared it all. Spencer's Ridge was a rather sparsely populated area with plenty of forest and occasional homesteads. At some point it turned into our beloved gravel. At this point we had what we planned, a gravel ride in the KY foothills. Nice.
This is not Spencer's Ridge, but I like the pic so I'll open with it. Dave at speed soaking in some Vitamin G .
We found our potential turn at around 6 miles onto what may or may not be Rebel Ridge or Radar Ridge, a road that is sometimes listed on some media like Bing, but is not listed on common formats such as the KY pdf maps and Googlemaps. The following series of pics reflect that I wouldn't bring grandma's Buick up or down this road. The night of steady rain made this a slippery, sodden mess, one which none of us were quite prepared for as far as rubber goes. "FAT BIKE!" became the rallying cry, as I wished for mine, oh, about 20 times down this road.
The descent into muddy madness.
This was a common feature, where in the "road" descended/ascended with numerous striations of gullies interspersed. Our tires often couldn't grip the mud on the high side, but the deep side was loaded with rocks an such, so our tires couldn't really handle those either. Sometimes, we walked.
And sometimes we didn't. You may notice a puddle in the middle of the "high side". Well, as you can infer, Timothy met an inglorious interface with said puddle and performed a most dynamic endo. I wasn't too far behind him and caught the entire thing in my mind video. Boom! Splat! I lifted his bike off of him and bade him rest. Nothing was broken; that's all that mattered.
Rebel/Radar Ridge Rd. Sogn. Excellent machine given the conditions, but I did often call out my whimpering battle cry, "Fat Bike!".
As is often the case, pictures couldn't really capture the blessed disaster that was Rebel Ridge. We had found a "not road" and had conquered it after a night of steady rain. We turned south on pavement working our way toward Turkey Foot, but the scenery along the way proved pleasant as well, if a little bumpy. All our drivetrains were beginning to express a certain unhappiness with the RebelRadar Ridge adventure.
Nice country dog.
At the Turkey Foot brown sign, we turned right and almost immediately found a bombing gravel descent. Man, I *loved* that descent save little bit of washboard that almost bumped me off. We saw a few cars and eventually found the bottom where the nose said to hang a right and look for the picnic area. I asked a gentleman in his truck about picnic tables and he kindly motioned just down the road and we found the delight that is the Turkey Foot Recreation Area picnic area. It hugs War Fork, overlooking the creek with its limestone rock house and large stone stops down to the creek. All three of us at some point availed ourselves of a quick rinse in the creek and we set about making a warm lunch with the Esbit stoves. It couldn't have been any nicer (save water, of which there is none, officially. We didn't need to filter but could have). I spent a bit of time watching what I think was a Green Heron flying about the creek. We ate well and gathered our strength for the return. I *love* Turkey Foot.
Turkey Foot Sogn
All good things must come to an end, so we gathered ourselves for the return leg, unfortunately having to climb back out of the Turkey Foot area. I did manage to clear the climb but don't think I'll win any "achievements" for my effort. Dave visited a church on the main road where they kindly insisted he clean his bottles and then gave him bottled water and tried to give him a hamburger. We returned via the same route for a bit before turning onto what is listed as Wild Dog Creek Rd. or Forest Service Rd. On-line maps have this road in existence, but local KY pdfs do not, so again we dove into another "not road", our raison d'etre.
More nice dogs, more common, in fact, than the notorious terrible KY dogs of lore.
Sorry bud, no snacks.
This pic is somewhat meaningless except that this is supposed to be Wild Dog Creek or Bushy Trail. "Fact is, I don't see any road at all, Sir".
Wild Dog Creek Rd quickly became another wet, soupy mix of forest road, but it was rather flat and the puddles weren't as crazy. We made steady progress here, with me riding in front cleaning up everybody's cobwebs (Timothy had more of that duty the previous day). I though I had taken a pic but can't find it, but there was a single bike track for much of this road, both thrilling and disappointing to think that another cyclist had plowed our not-road within a day or two of us. WDCRd had 2 distinct sections; the pre-turn section was really nice with an interesting pasture break in the middle. I found another hermitage along this section. Great stuff, but deep, deep in the middle of nowhere.
Potential TWS Hermitage. You're invited. We'll ride bikes all day and go to sleep early due to the lack of electricity.
A bit after the pasture break things got more interesting. We met a 'Y' in the road with the truck tire traffic heading left. Our gps track pointed right, but right down a rocky, chunky downhill. Beholden to our technology, we turned right and entered the rather dubious section of WDCRd gone bad. It began to descend into the creek valley, but the surface worsened with each bend. What had been soft mud became steep, rocky ravines with the hint of road. There was a good reason the tracks went left, because only the most specialized vehicle could have taken this on. I rode what I could but eventually found conditions too precarious for me to risk bicycle or knee/elbow safety. We all walked a good portion of this. None-the-less, the creek left the hardwood, deciduous forest from above and we found a layer or mountain rhododendron, hemlock, and pine. It might have been unrideable, but it was pleasant terrain none-the-less.
Timothy with a nice clump of rhododendron and hemlock behind him.
Down off WDCRd, we found Earnestville Rd and the mostly flat run back to the cars. Early portions of Earnestville were quite chunky with big, flattish stones which made for quick riding. Once we crossed 587 we were back in territory I had seen the previous year. Alas, at some point the wheels sort of popped off. I bonked and Dave and I began discussing whether we were going to be able to ride the next day. The bikes wouldn't stop and sometimes wouldn't shift. They- and we- were thrashed and trashed after such a crazy day on the bike. I sort of limped into the parking lot, really glad to have had such a day on the bike, but really, pretty damn tired. I was tired enough to pack up and head home.
Smartly we decided to eat first and make decisions afterward. It had finally stopped raining, so we were able to cook our mix of brats, corn, macncheese, broccoli, berries, and beverages and casually ate things as they were ready. Aside the dampness it was quite pleasant and I decided to at least stay the night, hoping for no more rain. We all bedded down in the tents a bit after 10, which is really early, but 40 miles of muddy chaos can do that.
Sunday morning we bade goodbye to the third scheduled ride. Our bicycles, and maybe bodies, weren't going to handle it. Trashed and trashed. My primary concern of camping the second night was the fear of another poor night's sleep. Instead I probably slept 11.00-7.30, which for me is a long night. We loaded and finished our trip with breakfast at Red River Rockhouse, me with the same delectable pancakes I had had the previous year. Simply excellent.