1: April 6 Ride Report

Twenty-one riders enjoyed perfect weather and a great ride down and back on the Towpath for the first Intro to Gravel Ride. One near miss of a suicidal squirrel is all I have to report. Greg, Chris, and I took off from Waterville to attend the Winter Warrior finale. Along the way we ran into John and Alan and had a short rendezvous with the Meanderers in Whitehouse. Great day to ride!The next Intro to Gravel ride leaves from Pacesetter on 4/20 at 9am. However, if you are up for a serious challenge, the Summer of Stupid opening day is riding Poto and DTE, same day, same time. Either way, you'll get a little dirty, and dirt is good.     ~Nate
 

2: April 20 Ride Report

Kevin, Mike, Kal and I braved the elements for the second Intro to Gravel ride. These guys are Winter Warriors, so this wasn't an intro to gravel for them. With temps in the mid 30s, steady rain, and 15mph wind from the Northeast, we were soaked and cold by the end. Definitely a mental toughness test today.

 

3: May 4 Ride Report

Six riders took on some of the roughest gravel roads Michigan has to offer this morning. Spring is a great time to sharpen those pothole dodging skills and lose teeth on washboard. Perfect weather, great company, good beer and food afterwards. And the suicidal squirrel made a reappearance. It was a good day.

The next gravel ride is on May 18th, starting at the Springbrook parking area at Oak Openings. We're riding to Wauseon, stopping for coffee at the Red Rambler.  

2019 Introduction to Gravel Series

Toledo Area Bicyclists, Nate Burks

Sat. April 6—Sat. October 5, 2019


Welcome to the 2019 Gravel Series. If you are an experienced gravel rider, read to the end for pre-ride and bonus ride information. If you are new to gravel, this series is designed to take you from short and flat to long and hilly over the course of ten rides. These are "no rider left behind" rides with frequent regrouping.

There are many advantages to riding roads less traveled. Riding gravel is a great way to increase leg strength and endurance. You are guaranteed to see fewer cars. We will encounter roads with varying terrain, hills, the occasional closed road or bridge, and sometimes dogs and livestock. You will never be bored.

What to bring:

  • A positive attitude. There will be times when we are suffering. Suffering ain't so bad when in the right mindset.
  • Helmet
  • Eye protection
  • Gravel bike with 30mm+ tires, 29er, or fatbike. Road bikes are not suitable for these roads.
  • Bike computer with the current week's route loaded
  • Snacks, gels, or other nutrition
  • Water, at least two bottles or a hydration pack for longer routes
  • Lights: rear blinky required, front suggested for fog and rain
  • Tools, flat repair kit
  • Headlight and/or helmet light for rides that begin before sun-up or will last after sun down
  • Change of clothes for after the ride (in case things get messy)

Find the the routes and dates below. All rides depart at 9am.

If you are an experienced gravel rider or have a high level of fitness and fortitude, there will be a preride departing at 7am for rides in April through August. This will get you ready for the next level, the bonus rides in September and October. The bonus rides are much more difficult, both in distance and terrain. There are steep, long climbs and equally steep descents that will challenge your bike handling abilities. We will encounter all forms of gravel, from the smooth packed stuff from Michigan to the chunky and sometimes loose gravel around Mohican.

Visit the Ride with GPS site for route details.. All pre-rides depart at 7am.


Routes

04/06/2019 Waterville Towpath
18.5 miles+235 ft
04/20/2019 Pacesetter
21.5 miles+80 ft
05/04/2019 7am Pre-Ride Original Gravity 23
22.9 miles+131 ft
05/04/2019 Original Gravity 27
27.8 miles+195 ft
05/18/2019 7am Pre-ride: Wauseon Warmup
19.1 miles+323 ft
05/18/2019 Wauseon Warmup
29.5 miles+287 ft
06/01/2019 7am Pre-ride: OG 22
22.0 miles+167 ft
06/01/2019 Original Gravity 37
36.9 miles+820 ft
06/29/2019 7am Pre-ride Pacesetter
21.5 miles+80 ft
06/29/2019 Pacesetter Blissfield
40.3 miles+198 ft
07/13/2019 7am Pre-ride: Waterloo hills
20.2 miles+837 ft
07/13/2019 Chelsea Waterloo 36
35.9 miles+1046 ft
07/27/2019 7am Pre-ride: Forest View
22.1 miles+188 ft
07/27/2019 Forest View Lanes
48.8 miles+331 ft
08/10/2019 MARR 32 (DJB) (copy)
31.9 miles+393 ft
08/17/2019 7am Pre-ride: Tecumseh
20.1 miles+326 ft
08/17/2019 Tecumseh Brewing
41.0 miles+1217 ft
08/31/2019 7am Pre-ride: Waterloo 2
20.5 miles+495 ft
08/31/2019 Chelsea Waterloo 51
51.2 miles+1993 ft
09/07/2019 Bonus 1: 70MilesAGravel
71.6 miles+2160 ft
09/21/2019 Bonus 2: SLAFALA
80.6 miles+3500 ft
09/28/2019 Bonus 3: Morenci Gravel 100
103.3 miles+2328 ft
10/05/2019 Bonus 4: Loudonville ExGravelGanza
71.0 miles+6579 ft

4. May 18 Recap

 

TLDR: 5 Riders, Swamp crossing, Hubert took a bath, I had a flat, great coffee at the Red Rambler, uneventful ride back to Oak Openings (avoiding the swamp). Next Intro to Gravel is back at Original Gravity in Milan, MI on June 1st. Photos here.

I awoke at 3am to the sound of rain on my awning. I hadn't planned on wearing rain gear when I set my kit out the night before. Mother nature throws curve balls sometimes, and learning to hit them is part of the fun. The unpaved section of the Wabash was going to be a little soft. My fat bike was still a dirty from the last time I rode it (Brighton Rec in March?), so it was going to need a bath anyway.

I took off from home at 6:30am during a chilly bout of rain. There is hardly a better time to ride than early on a Saturday morning. The streets were empty and by the time I passed through Maumee the rain had stopped. It was just me, the birds, a few chipmunks and squirrels, and eventually the sun, all the way to Oak Openings.

When I arrived at the Springbrook parking lot, Rick and Hubert were waiting for Jody. They planned on going out a little early. I rode up ahead to check trail conditions. Wet, firm, with a few puddles, no problem for four inch tires. Rick, Hubert, and Jody took off and I waited to see who else would ride.

At 9am, it was just Chris and I, so we chased down Rick and crew, catching them just after the Fraker Mill Bridge. Things were going swimmingly until we crossed 109. That's when the real fun began. We started to encounter ankle deep puddles and areas where the grass was a foot or more tall. About a quarter mile from the railroad crossing, the puddles were getting larger and deeper. The final "puddle" looked to be about a hundred yards long. The thing about murky water is that you don't know how deep it is until you're in it. I've seen videos of gravel races with creek crossings and the like and thought, what the hell, let's do this. I said to Chris "I'm going for it. This might be a mistake, but I'm going for it." And so we rode through it, water over the bottom bracket and all. I found out that Showers Pass socks are indeed waterproof. Chris made it all the way to the end without putting a foot down, only to have his front wheel get stuck in the last few inches and putting his right foot down deep into swamp muck.

After this, it was smooth sailing to Wauseon. Kind of. On the way north to the Red Rambler, I noticed my front tire was self steering like crazy and getting bouncy. Something in the swamp had poked through. I picked a hell of a time to find out my sealant was dried up. I was riding nearly on the rim by the time we got to the Red Rambler. I added some sealant and air and the small puncture sealed without an issue. It was time for coffee and pastries. Man, they have good coffee. The espresso brownie bites were great also. I highly recommend making this a stop on any ride through Wauseon. Just try to arrive cleaner than we did. And maybe don't work on your bike out front.

On the way back we caught back up to Rick and company, finding out that Hubert had taken a bath in the swamp. Somehow their bikes were way cleaner than mine and Chris's. Needless to say we avoided the swamp on the way back and strolled into Oak Openings without incident.

Thanks to everyone who came out. The next Intro to Gravel ride is on June 1st, back to Original Gravity to take on Bethel Church Road. This is one of my favorite routes, a route that was put together by Mike Meiser and predates my cycling career.
~Nate