12/31 Grayson Lake Gravel Grinder
Last epic of 2011 was supposed to be a 40 miler, but in true epic form it turned out to be just a tad over 50 miles. I had been doing some recon trips when I was down in eastern KY and was turning up some fine gravel road sections. I have been driving past and traveling over an old railroad right of way of the EKRR for years thinking how cool it would be to ride a bike on that. Turns out in this short section of hardpacked, flat dirt road, there is three historic trestles in a row, right after what I will call a trailhead (that is just an "Y" intersection with parking off route 773) to begin this adventure with Jay W. my partner in adventure for the day.
photo: Jay Whitlatch
The rail trail is a flat and goes to a dirt track, and there is only about a mile of that before the old rail road surface changes to pavement. The first turn is onto Big Sinking Creek Road, look for a homemade sign indicating so. All the road signs have been stolen from their post for the first 20 miles. Big Sinking basically follows the Little Sandy River, but it is anything but flat. Repetitive, relatively short, steep climbs, that make it hard to establish a rhythm, can and probably will shred some legs if you let it. Just one mile long section of gravel, before you are returned to state route 7. Travelling south for about a mile and a halve you we get your first views of Grayson Lake. After a bridge crossing and before the right turn onto Rattlesnake Ridge, there will be a guard rail gap and a gate. Past this gate will be a field that leads down to the old state route, it is a short long cut, neat little side bar, before the three or so road miles out Rattlesnake Ridge.
The third left and the only one with a stop sign at the time is Gimlett Road. I had never been out the road - only to what I believed was the other side. We made the turn to the headwall with confidence, only to get hollered at by a couple of locals "that's a dead end". I thought bullshit twice then turned around for maybe some intelligence. wrong. Man, I don't know what it is, sometimes I think they are just lying to you, or maybe they just don't know. They had horses and car-tired buggies, a person might think they took them some place. And you have to read between the lines, "yeh thars a house" - prompted me to ask " is everybody cool?", taking in full consideration that I was standing in the middle of a compound of single-wides each one crowned by every outdoor light fixture that could be scrounged from who-knows-where.
With the re-assurance of the coolness factor, we plodded up the headwall and bombed the other side. Hung the left turn at speed and rolled into the "dead end" and towards "house". More like a logging operation that you run from your home, but it is obvious that there is a road past the creek crossing. We set off the dog alarms but no one came to the door, as we slid silently by. After a few hundred yards of Kentucky slickrock you enter into the safety of state park property, this is the closest the route has to offer to trail with views of the lake again, this time with numerous waterfalls that could be seen and/or heard. Pretty much a straight shot as the road surface slowly turns back to civilization.
photo: Jay Whitlatch
Green, KY is half-way and a turning point to put the wind to our back for the second half the journey. The climbs are bigger but the grade a little more friendly which I think leads to being able settle a bit into a rhythm, unlike the hard choppy start. Brushy Creek Rd is the next to last climb, and the maybe the first road with a road sign. We missed it. A little gravel right hand turn that goes through somebody's yard. If you stay on pavement you'll be heading for banjo music and we all know what that means.
Wells Road was marked too, and we seen it, and made the turn for the last climb of the day and the day was getting late, on this early Winter's day. We had been out there for over four hours covering a lot of unfamiliar ground. That doesn't bode well for the confidence (so I hear). After that effort of the longest and highest climb of the day I was glad to present something familiar.
Jay and myself had been here maybe a year ago, riding bikes, exploring around, and seeing no reason to come back. It was a little bit too horsey and land locked. So I was stoked to be able to include this little bit of ridge and old gravel roadway as a leg of the trip, as well to justify the mountain bike. A little blinky light action to bring us back safely, doubling up on the three rail road bridges in the process.
The start/finish location was chosen due to available parking, although it is not a lot I do believe it is on state right of way. And to be able to ride that section of old railroad with the sketchy bridges. Parking at the dam an option and would trim maybe 10 or 12 miles, but would add more of questionable state route 7. One has to decide for themselves the safety of any section of that road, most is bermed with long lines of sight, but some places aren't.
The numbers are around 5 hours total for 51 miles on what is supposed to a 41.40 mile loop around Grayson Lake. 10 mph is about what I was figuring, including a couple quick stop, for my 15.5" 29'r mtb with 1 32:17 gear and 1.9's @ 45 psi.
There are no food stops directly on route, so bring everything that you will need. There is the Bruin Market at route 409 & 7 that is easily assessable at about the 3/4 mark, if you need that sort of thing.
Here is the link to route, YOU should be able view it.
12/31 I HOPE YOU VOTED FOR ME!!!
IF YOU DIDN'T
go here to vote for #8
VOTING ENDS AT MIDNIGHT 12/31
12/21 In Case you are watching
was getting a little ridicules
I threw in the towel, or bean bag, or whatever.
This means we are going to have to do this again.
Let me tell you I only voted once but definitely knew it was possible to vote every day. I watched #8 in the period of a few hours today go from 287 to over 853 - all the while lagging behind #2. None of the others changed of any significance the whole time.
So go to the link above now and vote one more time for #8
and as it type that above 909!
so much fun
12/17 WVMBA Ride Guide Cover Contest
WVMBA is having a contest for its new RIDE Guide and Chris Reed has sent in one of my photos to be voted on for the cover on behalf of Logan Mountainbike. It was taken on the KT in Nov 2010 on the approach to Blackjack School around the 20 mile marker.
Yeah so go here to vote for #8
12/16 One Month Down the Road
things get serious heading up Saunders Cr Rd
Wow, that was a break. I'm past the transition time, winding down with the days approaching the Winter solstice, usually things don't start ramping up till after then, but let me share with you how to feel fast while being so slow
I have a solid three weeks on a new tire set, first with the rear Bontrager XR1 at a oh so skinny even for me 1.9. Set up with Stan's tubeless so there is no worrying about pinch flat. Higher pressure than ever means faster rolling, compensated with going back to the 17 tooth cog linked to the 32 tooth sprocket. 32:16 may be more appropriate but that cog is of the non coasting variety - I am close to going back to that, but it has been still warm enough not to work against the wind chill yet, so I am wanting to bomb as many gravel roads around here while the bombing is good.
I pulled these of the shelf new, this years race swag from the Gravel Rouser
Up front where it think the bigger of two tires should be I have a little beefier and a little more square profile tire with a Kenda small blog 8, almost the same but totally different. Both tires are good rollers, for now when there is more road miles and more spinning in my bike diet. But it also works well in moist single track, the back tire with its minimal tread will predictably lock up with an outstanding skidding noise that lets you (and others) know that you rear tire is locked up. It has yet to wash out sideways on me, but also my riding style has changed to adapt to a compensated style - more steering, less turning, or is that the other way around? Anyways, I have had to depend on the front tire in some of the steeper and/or sketchy places, and it has yet to let me down. Really pleased with the minimal setup to go along with my minimal riding.
So take this set up with its skinnier than ever tires and pump them up to a higher pressure than normal with your highest coasty gear ratio. Spin like crazy on the road, and keep bombing super fast gravel descent over and over and stay off the brakes till after you see the previous rides skid marks. And keep the rubber side down.
we like to keep it tight
The Routine Begins
The new tire setup has change to Superfly's role from a beefy mTB to a more like single speed cycle cross machine. I have been putting it to basically two routes, my weekday 1 to 1.5 hr route and my weekend route 3 to 4 hour loop that gets on both the KT and Adahi on their most sustainable sections. I get a little welcome company most weekends rolling around with Andy and sometimes Jay joins in to keep it in perspective.
Also been up digging into and scouting around what I am calling Cross Holler, up from the Adahi, eyeballing the lay of the land for a new playground, with lots of potential. Keep posted for some updates concerning this.
11/16 On The Road
Sometimes the road is not so bad; hopping up and over to Jenny Wiley State Park, Prestonsburg, KY
11/14 Staple Riding
A fine diet of quality gravel from out the door up on Stratton Ridge near Milton, WV
You have probably seen this.
This will go a long way to the vision of this trail. A lot like my seven day adventure on this blog, this trail is a work in process and not really complete. S Scott Wooten paints a pretty picture.
If you find yourself like me and watch it maybe one too many times, you might find yourselve out there riding with a bit too much banjo music in your head. I have heard that if you auto loop this video with the sound down and start Pink Floyds Shine On You Crazy Diamond at the same time, that every thing goes together in such an uncanny way that can't be coincidence.
go on back
Barboursville FAT Tire Brethren
Beech Fork Association of Trails
bFAT is an informal group of riders who appreciate the land and ride for a healthy well being.
Beech Fork is mostly a single track trail that follows around the lake leading into a combination of creek bed, hill climb, and fast downhill back to the lake. Barboursville's Park has some nice runs from the top with numerous scenic overlooks from the sheer cliffs and steep drops. The flat single track that follows the river and comes out behind the lake - is where the real fun can begin or end. Click on the link at top of page - above left to see a map! The Kanawha Trace and Adahi Trails are 32 mile and 17 mile multi user trails crossing over private land. Check with the Tri-State Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America for trail information and registration.
bFAT email groupo<----click here Become a part of an e-group forum that will let all subscribers communicate (free!). Send an e-mail with the word "join" in the subject or body and you'll get hooked up with other riders, to do fun group rides, get trail info and conditions, technical advice, etc.
The Race to the Colorado Trail
for more info administrator at bike bFAT