2019 Rides and Reports


 

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.  


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


6. June 29 Recap

Nine riders sweated through the heat, sun, and wind on a mix of fast gravel and hot pavement roads. I didn't hear a single person complain, but I was probably suffering from slight sun stroke. We had a great group, good conversation, and met courteous drivers on the road. Thanks for coming out! 


7. May 18 Recap

Hot, dusty, windy, and sunny. I know I've complained a bit about how much rain we've received, but we could've used just a touch to knock down the clouds of dust kicked up by passing vehicles. Seven riders left from Cotton Brewing for an extended route from Adrian. The roads were fast on our way north. As we headed west, the gravel started to get chunky and loose as we tackled hills on Taylor, Whelan, and Pawson. With the heat and sun, we needed some extra hydration. Thankfully Edgar knew there was a gas station on route down Pentecost Highway. We returned to Cotton Brewing from some great drinks and food. ~Nate

See photos here:  https://photos.app.goo.gl/HSUzCvnsbHGRK8916

2020 TAB Gravel, Dirt, and Adventure Challenge

Toledo Area Bicyclists, Nate Burks

Sat. April 4—Sat. Dec. 20


Here it is, the tentative schedule of my nutty rides for 2020. There will be gravel, dirt, trail, pavement, and suffering every Saturday from April through the end of the year. I am Nate and I will be your tour guide barring any unforeseen circumstances. I am hoping to build on the success of last year’s Intro to Gravel series and provide more opportunities for personal growth and camaraderie.


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 for the gravel and dirt adventures. 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)


Average speeds will vary and there will be frequent regrouping for back of the packers. When we ride MTB trails, ride at a pace and skill level that you are comfortable with. Any last minute changes or cancellations will be sent out on the TAB website, email list, and Facebook page, 


Start times:

April: 9am

May - September: 8am

October: 9am


Tentative Schedule:

4/4 - Waterville Towpath: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29817435

We kick off the season with an easy ride along the Maumee starting from Farnsworth Park. Start at 7am and get a double helping of Towpath goodness.


4/11 - Winter Warrior Beach Ridge Party Rides

Be prepared to ride the Beach Ridge trail if conditions allow. If not, we will head west on the Wabash to Wauseon or ride something even more epic.


4/18 - TBD (I'm at Barry Roubaix https://barry-roubaix.com/)

Sorry, I'll be riding a route called the Psycho Killer at Barry Roubaix. If someone fills in, they get to pick the adventure.


4/25 - The Whole Dam Towpath Ride: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31912128

Ride as far as you like, but the goal is to ride the entire Towpath from Waterville to Defiance and back. Parts of the towpath are more MTB than path, so come prepared for the rough stuff.


5/2 - Original Gravity: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28989346

A Winter Warrior classic featuring Bethel Church Road. It's only thirty-some miles, but your legs will be screaming by the end.


5/9 - Pacesetter to Blissfield: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29406422

Flat and mostly breezy, this is a good route to cut your gravel teeth on.


5/16 - Forest View Lanes: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28989340

Affectionately referred to as the F.U.Nate48, this route is exposed to the elements. It's also flat as a pancake if that's your thing.


5/23 - Tecumseh Brewing: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31384581

Another Winter Warrior classic, this is filled with all kinds of short, punchy climbs. Pacing is important, your legs will thank you later.


5/30 - Cotton Brewing + Heritage MTB: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30501667

You will get to enjoy Taylor Road for a second week in a row. And there will be a few more hills to conquer as well. If you have legs left, Heritage Park is nearby for some more fun in the dirt.


6/6 - Mohican Trippple: (Routes and start time TBD)

Likely the hardest ride challenge you will ever attempt: 

1. Complete the Mohican MTB trail. 

2. Ride ~50 miles of Ohio hilly gravel. 

3. Ride ~50 miles of Ohio hilly road. 

Many have tried, only a few have succeeded.


6/13 - TBD (I'm at Funk Bottoms http://funkbottomsgravel.blogspot.com/)

Come join me at Funk Bottoms for more gravel hill climb goodness. If someone fills in locally, you get to choose your adventure.


6/20 - Half Everest attempt at Mohican: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28859890

Nearly the longest day of the year, let's see how high we can climb. The challenge is to ride from Dawn to Dusk and attempt to "Half Everest", i.e. climb about 14,515 feet. We've chosen Park Road at Mohican State Park as our home for the day, climbing and descending all day long. 


6/27 - Hell Gravel Grovel + Poto MTB: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30511651

We're going to Hell (Michigan) to take on the Peach Mountain Observatory climb. Poto is nearby, so if weather permits, we'll camp and ride the MTB trail on Sunday.


7/4 - TAB Freedom Ride

An annual TAB tradition.


7/11 - Brighton Gravel + Brighton Rec MTB: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31384514

There are some really great gravel roads to the west of Bright Rec Area. And also some great MTB trails there. There should be time for both on this great day in July. Murray Lake, Torn Shirt, Appleton, there's a trail for every skill level. The gravel road portion has a little of everything, with a great big descent at the beginning that turns into a gruelling climb at the end.


7/18 - MVA Metroparks Tour (I'm at The Crusher https://crushergravel.com/)

Keeping with TAB tradition, support the MVA Metroparks Tour. I'll be in the UP running from bears and crossing rivers for probably 24 hours again.


7/25 - Pleasant Lake Ride: https://www.bikereg.com/pleasant-lake-ride 

*7:11am start time* Organized by the same folks that put on BLOM, Watermoo, and Winnawana, this free gravel ride leaves from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Dexter, MI. There are 50k, 100k, 100 mile routes with food and drink available to purchase after the ride.


8/1 - Original Gravity Redux: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31305272

A return to Original Gravity, but with a slightly altered course that goes in reverse from the original.


8/8 - MARR + Farnsworth Group Camp: https://www.toledoareabicyclists.org/page-18155

I thought it would be fun to combine the MARR gravel route with a bikepacking/camping adventure from the Farnsworth Group campsite. I'll be bikepacking my crap to packet pickup in Whitehouse and then to Farnsworth on Friday. How you get there is up to you. Saturday we ride the MARR gravel course and enjoy the afterparty before riding back to Farnsworth.


8/15 - TBD

My wife and I will be celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary, so y'all are on your own. Pick an adventure and have fun!


8/22 - 70MilesAGravel Redux: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29029791

This ride consists of two 35 mile loops from Manchester, MI. To the south, Taylor Road and some other fun descents and short climbs. To the north, the Sharon Hollow area and Sylvan Road. Most of the route is shaded and sheltered from the wind, but there is nothing to protect your legs from the "death by a thousand little bumps" of elevation gain.


8/29 - TBD (I'm at McLain Farm Gravel Grinder https://www.bikereg.com/45670)

If a hoedown on a farm and eastern Ohio gravel sound fun, come on over to Irondale, OH for a good time. Otherwise, it's up to a volunteer ride leader to choose the adventure this week.


9/5 - Morenci Gravel 100: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29029625

One hundred miles of mostly gravel roads from Morenci, MI. What could go wrong? Well, last year we ended up on a road with mannequins in militia garb along a dead end road. No biggie.


9/12-13 - Waterloo G&G + DTE MTB: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28972680

The Waterloo Grit and Gravel course is a popular route with only a few real hills. If weather permits, this will be a good weekend to camp nearby and also ride DTE.


9/19 - Lake Erie Fall Ride (I'm at Marji Gesick https://marjigesick.com/

Go support the Monroe Cycling Club while I'm trying to not break my face at Marji Gesick.


9/26 - Maybury Gravel + Maybury MTB: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/31384428

Maybury is a quaint little MTB ride, so why not pair it with a gravel ride.


10/3 - Tecumseh Brewing Redux: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28989353

Welcome back to Tecumseh, where the hills are plenty. The climbs here are like intervals and the scenery is fantastic. 


10/10 - BIKEtoberfest

Support The Right Direction at BIKEtoberfest and ride an epic route from the Beach Ridge Wheelhouse.


10/17 - ExGravelGanza Redux: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30875222

This is the most difficult gravel route I'll offer up this year. If you complete it, you'll be in an elite group of nuts.


10/24 - Chelsea Alehouse: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30998342

Do you like those hills on the Waterloo G&G? Well here they are, backwards and forwards with a few more thrown in just cuz. 


10/31 - TAB Haunted Hunt: (Checkpoints TBD)

I'll give you a list of graveyards, cemeteries, and a haunted bridge or two to search for, you choose how to find as many of them as you can. The team with the most at the end of the day gets bragging rights and maybe a prize. 


12/19-20 - The Longest Night: https://ridewithgps.com/events/119518-the-longest-night

Four loops of 40 miles each, starting at sundown. Ride through the night to sunup to complete the longest night ride of the year.





 

8/17 Tecumseh: Preview 8/31 Chelsea

Big thanks to Doug Metzger for leading the group from Tecumseh Brewing a couple weeks back. The humidity was high, the route was hilly, but everyone made it back for good food and beer. The gravel ride this weekend is leaving from Chelsea for some rolling hills. This is an out and back type of route, sending us across the bottom of the Waterloo G&G route (you know, where all the hills are), and back across the same hills going the other direction. There are some additional hills thrown in for extra credit. The full route is 49.5 miles, regrouping as needed with average speeds between 12 and 14 mph. Bring fuel and extra water as the only store on the route is at mile 28.5.
Departure time: 9am
Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28989360 
Start point: 1101 S Main St, Chelsea, MI 48118
~Nate

 

8/31 Chelsea

The 10th Intro to Gravel Ride was far from an introduction. Edgar, Helen, Suzanne and I took on the hills of Waterloo, forwards and backwards, with a few new roads thrown in just to see what's out there. A little rain during the night kept the dust down. The roads were firm and fast. And it was all I could do to hang with the Fast and Furious crew. Riding with these three will make you a stronger rider, there is no doubt. Only a small mechanical during the ride, my water bottle cage bolts worked themselves loose. Otherwise a fun ride.
We'll continue with gravel rides every Saturday during September and October. The routes are either long, difficult, or both. More details are found on the Ride with GPS event page: https://ridewithgps.com/events/69932-2019-introduction-to-gravel-series
Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/w9M3vyxc7ayi9xRu6
-Nate