I think there were 13 of us to start with. The chick roster was, me, Karen, Jean, Jen, Michelle, and Geraldine. Although, Geraldine would turn back at or near the top of the first climb--a climb that was, from the cars, a good 7 miles and 2000 feet of elevation gain. As for the guys, it was Tim, Derik, Ron, Cam, Henry, Brad, and Dave (on his new gravel bike).
So we did that first long climb. As we were climbing, I started noticing snow on sides of the road. Tim had mentioned he'd gotten into some snow yesterday. I thought, well, that's not too bad--just a bit on the sides. Of course, the farther up the road we went, the more snow there was. I just tried to stay in the tire tracks from vehicles that had driven before us.
We finally got to the top. Ron took this photo.
I'm in the blue jacket. Thanks Ron Jones for allowing me to use your photo!
Going up in the snow was okay. Coming down was, well, a little scary. Everyone, except Karen and I, seemed to have no fear. Karen and I quickly fell behind (better to fall behind, than to fall down). After awhile, we descended out of the snow. Then I was able to pick up speed. At one point I was going 30 mph! Woo Hoo--that was fun! Karen and I kept going down. On the last two rides, whenever there is a turn, the group, or one person will wait to make sure everyone makes the turn. Karen and I didn't see anyone, so we continued on the road we were on.
Down down down we went. The road was pretty steep and bumpy in places, but at least we were going down. Still, we saw no one. We couldn't really tell if there were tire tracks. There were too many bumps. Then, I saw a paved road through the trees. There were quite a few cars on this road I could see through the trees. I thought, "That's a lot of traffic for the D-line." That was a lot of traffic for the D-line. That's because it wasn't the D-Line! Nope, it was Hwy 12. I knew, as soon as we got to the highway, that it was Hwy 12. I told Karen we definitely missed a turn. We consulted Google maps to see just exactly where we were on Hwy 12. As I thought, we were west of Oakville but before Porter. I was pretty sure we needed to go left to get to where the D-line paved road goes back into the forest from Hwy 12. We turned on our tail lights and headed down the road. Before too long, we came to the D-line. I told Karen we could just take it to Bordeaux, and get back to the car on the road. It would not be what we planned, but I could get us back to the car.
We started up the D-line. Just as I had decided I needed to pee, Derik comes up behind us. When they realized we were no longer with them, Derik deduced where we had probably gone (and he followed our tire tracks), and came to find us. I told Derik we were never lost, we just went a different way!
Thr three of us continued up the road. When we got to the E-line, Derik could tell the rest of the group had already been there (his tracking skills are quite good). Karen suggested he take E-line, and we would stay on D-line (shorter and paved). We would meet him at the top at D-4000. If he caught up to the group, he could tell them to wait for us at D-4000. If he didn't catch them, but got to the top before us, he would wait for us, and we would take D-4000 back to the cars.
Even though Karen and I stopped for a little break on our way up the D-line (it's paved, but it's still a bugger of a climb), when we got to the top, no one was there. We waited (I finally got to pee) for Derik. We waited about 15 minutes. A rain/sleet mix started to fall rather heavily. There was no cover. We were getting cold. We discussed our options. We could continue on D-line to Bordeaux. Or, we could go up D-4000. My concern was that Derik would arrive and wait for us, wondering where we were. Karen had the smart idea to make a sign out of sticks saying, "WE LEFT". I looked at the map of the route, and thought we could figure it out. So, off we went.
We climbed for awhile, came down some, and resumed climbing. At one point the road got kind of steep. Neither Karen or myself remembered if we had come down (two weeks ago) such a steep section. We started to wonder if we were, indeed, on the right road (there had been options for turning that we had passed). Again, we pulled out our phones. I also turned my Garmin Edge Touring on. I knew I could just put in Sherman Valley Rd., and it would route us there. Before the Garmin could acquire the satellite, what was left of the group, came up behind us! I think they were just as glad to see us, as we were to see them! I noticed Ron, Jean, and Michelle were not with them. Ron and Jean had taken the D-line to Bordeaux, and back to the cars that way (our original plan before Derik caught us). Michelle had, apparently, headed back much earlier.
So, we were going the right way! We continued riding. There was only about 30 minutes more, and more downhill than up. However, before long, Karen and I were alone again. We laughed about it. Then we came to a fork. Again, no one was there. Fortunately, Derik was behind us. He came upon us, and saw the tracks. Karen and I saw them too, so we knew the way they went.
We made it back to the cars. Jean and Ron were already there. It turned out that, even though Karen and I didn't do the exact same route, we did the exact same number of miles--38! I guess this just shows, there is never a dull gravel ride (however, this one might be hard to beat)!