L to R: Sarah, Chris, Karen, Jean, Geraldine, Julianne, Annie, Cindy, Maria, and me (not pictured, our lone dude, Annie's dad, Andy)
I love gravel riding, and I go, even with the fast guys, and it's always great! But, today was extra special as it was an all gals gravel ride (plus Andy)! It was Karen's idea, and I just ran with it (or rode, as the case may be). I put out an all-call post for gals who have been wanting to do a gravel ride, but were worried they wouldn't keep up. There was an enthusiastic response, including some who wanted to come, but couldn't.
We met at the Mima Falls Trailhead parking lot. A Discovery Pass is required to park, and those who drove had their passes. Sarah and I rode with Karen, our three bikes fitting easily into the back of her truck.
The weather forecast called for 10% chance of rain, but still cold temps. There was ice on the puddles, and the ground was still fairly frozen. We all dressed warmly. I knew we'd be plenty warm once we got near the gravel.
There were those on cyclocross bikes, a few on mountain bikes, and me on Mama Cass. When we headed out it became quickly apparent that the cross bikes were faster on the paved part. But, no problem, as we regrouped at the beginning of the gravel.
The E Line gravel begins with a long, rather steep climb. I may have failed to mention to the gals just how much climbing we would be doing (a total of 2,868 ft). Oops. But, we all made it. This was Mama Cass' first go on the E Line. With her tiny front ring of 23 teeth, and her big rear cog of 32, she goes up the hills pretty easily.
We regrouped periodically, but the faster gals on cross bikes were getting cold waiting for the rest of us to catch up. As soon as the last person would catch up, the front group would continue on. That was good because then they didn't get so cold, yet they didn't get so far ahead. I waited for everyone at the ambiguous turns to make sure everyone went the right way. Sometimes, it's hard to spot the signs.
We went up, we went down. We rarely went flat. Mama Cass did great. However, I noticed that even with the mud shovel fender, I still got pretty dirty on my legs. The Mucky Nutz front fender did a good job of keeping my face clean. Those without any fenders looked like their faces were suffering from some kind of black pox. At the end of the gravel part, some were sporting nice mud facial masks.
In the end, we did 27.4 miles in 3 1/2 hours. The paved D Line back to Bordeaux and Mima Falls ate up a chunk of those miles, but everyone was ready to get off the gravel (except maybe Mama Cass who does so much better on the gravel vs. the pavement). The D Line has it's own steep hills to contend with, but once you reach the top, it's downhill most of the way back to the cars.
We all made it back to the parking lot. Everyone had a great time (though some are saying they'll bring cross bikes next time). I suspect girls will be going gravelling again soon!