Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Marengo Mixed-Terrain

After a fitful year in '12, I was determined to start 2013 on a good note, an adventurous note, and was fortunate that some of the crew was equally motivated to do something big on the bike. Barturtle took up the challenge of designing a mixed-terrain route out of Marengo, IN, and boy did he hit the spot. I take pride in finding interesting roads and opportunities, but Timothy's route was as varied and challenging as anything we've done of the mixed-terrain persuasion.

With mid-30Fs and no terrible weather expected, we left pretty confident that we wouldn't be bowled over by the weather (foreshadowing) and quickly hit the first of several acclivities on the day. Using the re-purposed Troll as my gravel whip on the day, I took it relatively easy early on as a test of the legs. What I failed to understand was...

We met our first gravel with the left turn downhill onto S Bogard Hollow (Harry Potter location?), which for me was one of the best gravel runs I've ridden. Five miles of varied texture with animals, a good barn, some dips and turns, a creek crossing, and generally no houses to speak of. Awesome find!

Memorializing First Stop. We make many stops, but the first breaks the tap, right?

Patrick with requisite game face. Homey don't play that!

Ride host looking sassy b/c of the great course.

Off of S.Bogard we turned onto S.Magnolia Rd, which is one Dave and I visited on New Year's Day of '10. It was only 17F on that day, but we faced much less gravel. After the peppery climb up Magnolia we found more gravel on E.Seaton Hill Rd. as we cruised a couple more climbs.

I call this "Bicycle Terrorist". Terrible title, just like the mediocre day of fitness.

After Grantsburg we found ourselves with a steady 1.5m grind of a climb up the paved 37 and then met our next batch of fun with the trepidation of several Private Drive signs on Zahn Rd. Our host barreled, so we did the same and eventually began an intense mountain-bike style downhill along a decrepit "road". It was the Troll's best moment of the day; its 26" wheels and mt geometry was in its element. Too bad the remaining 95% had me trampled by the easier roll of the 29ers in attendance. Zahn turned along a nice creek for a few and exited very near to the Sycamore Spring Park, again a spot Dave and I visited back in '10, but certainly not via the intense Zahn.

Although fuzzy, you can get a feel for Zahn Rd. along the creek here.

Dave along W. Zahn nearer to civilization. It's not often we see double track. 
I won't speak for the others, but for me the next three miles were among the toughest of the day. Tunnel Hill Rd. is a 3mile stairstep grind on gravel, made tougher on this day by a steady headwind that had cropped up. We got rather spread out here, with Timothy and Patrick extending out front (as one will do with more fitness and more legs), me floating in the middle and Dave hauling in the back. It was a desolate, cold spot of bother. Once I reached the top, where Timothy, Patrick and the dog which followed us for those three miles were waiting for us, I headed straight through, as I was cold, tired and pretty piss-poor. Sounds sort of dramatic for only the 20th mile, doesn't it?

After several excellent gravel segments, dove down the next- Longest Rd.- which might have been the best of the bunch: rustic, muddy, wild, rough, creek crossing galore. Again, Timothy and PJ pushed far ahead, as did Dave a bit. I stopped to soak it in and take some pics. Pace is great, but being out in it all is as much the bonus for.

We cruised into English for a snack at the gas station (they had a table without cigarette smoke!) and then left via another 1.5m stair-step climb, one which opened in the double digits just outside town. The horror! After I was officially a horse heading for the barn. I knew there was a bit of a short cut along the route, and I decided that even if I needed to wait for folks at the end, I was done. We first hit English Reservoir Rd., which might have been the wildest bit of "road" I've undertaken since Big South Fork back in '10. It was a muddy, half-frozen logging road which was barely rideable in spots and finished via a short unrideable rocky, frozen climb. I did prove that I can push a bike uphill faster than Dave.

At the top of the climb we hit yet more gravel, this time S.Sennis Rd., which provided yet another form of gravel texture, with more ice and a gushy clay surface. I was only barely hanging on here. The remainders decided to join me via the more direct route and we ended tired but satisfied with a grand 36 miles. Frankly I'm shocked how tired and spent I was after only 36 miles, and I won't mention our average pace.

Suffice, though, that most of roads we encountered were among the best gravel I've ridden around Louisville. However burned, Dave and I immediately discussed returning during a warmer time of the year. Maybe we'll be able to keep up a bit better, but, really, who cares? It was the kind of adventure I need to begin 2013.


1 comment:

Pondero said...

Looks like perfect roads.

I sometimes find that lot's of bundling up for cold can inhibit my breathing and range of motion, and (I think) negatively affect my riding. Maybe...

Alabama Sky Day 3 Vistas

We began Day 3 with a basic breakfast at the restaurant, again better than camp cooking a salt bomb,and bundled up for a long descent in th...