Saturday, January 30, 2016

It Was All Good Until the Chainsaws Started

Today's gravel ride didn't go quite to plan, but it was still a good ride for everyone, even though we didn't all finish together. I'll get to that.

I planned a Chick Gravel Ride based on a route I've done two other times. Start at McLane Elementary School, head down Delphi to Cedar Flats, then Maple Valley, and into the forest. From there we would go up B-8400 to B-8000, then come down almost to Rock Candy Parking before turning to continue on the B-line. We would follow that to B-5000, then to C-4000, then C-8000, and down to Noshka Rd. From there it was pavement all the way back to McLane.

The weather was looking pretty good, a little bit chilly, but some decent sun. We ended up with a pretty good turnout of 8 gals and 1 honorary chick (Andy). The gals were: Karen (who drove me to the start), Jean, Maria, Geraldine, Juliann, Cindy, Sarah, and me. 

When we got to the hike-a-bike part, we found that the evil "Mr. McGregor" (I don't know the guy's real name, so I have named him after the mean farmer in "Peter Rabbit") had put more logs and branches across the path in an attempt to keep us from passing through to the forest road. He also moved a rock that had previously been used to step across the creek (much to the dismay of his neighbors too). But, never fear, we always find a way! This time we went further up the road to an old road that may or may not be part of the property of the house further up the hill. No one stopped us. As we popped out onto the forest road, a couple with a beautiful Doberman named Cody were walking by. We asked if this was their property (in an effort to state our case for a reasonable path to the road). Unfortunately, they were not. They said they just jump across the creek. The issue stems partly from the people on horseback. The horses erode the side of the road. It is understandable that that is not a good thing. However, bicycles don't have that kind of impact. If only there could be some common sense and consideration made...

Anyway, back to the ride. When we all reached the top of the first three steep hills Andy took this photo of us.
L to R--Juliann, Geraldine, Karen, me, Jean, Cindy, Sarah, and Maria

Here's the photo I took with Andy in it.
And Hal in the foreground.

We worked our way to B-8000, then down to the turn for the B-Line. At this point, Sarah opted to head out to Hwy 8 and head for home. The rehab plan for her knee didn't really include massive amounts of climbing. She was okay heading back on her own, so we said goodbye and continued on the B-line. 

We began the climb back up. As we were going along, a guy came down who had passed us going up. He stopped and said the road was closed ahead for some timber cutting. Based on where he said, we thought we would be turning prior to the closed part. Not long after we turned onto B-5000, we came to the closed section. We couldn't hear any chainsaws, so we decided to continue on. As we came around a curve, we could see the evidence of the timber cutting. There were about three trees at an angle across the road from up above (I didn't stop for photos, as I thought it best to just get through there). We were able to easily ride under them. Not far beyond, we came to the end of the closure. At this point, it was me, Karen, Jean, and Maria. When we looked back, the others weren't coming. Maria turned around to go tell them it was okay. Jean, Karen, and I waited on the other side of the tape and sign.
Waiting for the others.

After a few minutes, we heard some yelling (male voice). Then, after another couple of minutes, we heard chainsaws. Hmmm...still no others, and no Maria. We saw a couple of trees go down. It was starting to sprinkle a bit, and standing, we were getting chilled. Neither Karen or I had service. Jean attempted to call Maria, but the call didn't go through. We logically determined that they turned around. As the chainsaws were still running, we had no choice but to continue on. This kind of deflated the mood a bit, but we still had miles to go. Karen had hoped to be back by 1:00. With the delay, that was not likely going to happen. 

At one point, the road came to a "Y". We started to the right, but I wasn't sure that was correct. We stopped and I consulted the map on my phone. Nope, we were supposed to go left...and up. I'd kind of forgotten about this climb. At the top, I checked the map again to make sure. Yep, it was the right way. I attempted to send a text to the others, as I had 3 dots. It didn't send. 

As we continued, a vehicle came up from the other direction. We told them the road was closed ahead. We told the same to the next one we saw. Soon we came to the intersection to turn onto C-4000, which then took us to C-8000. As we started the long descent down C-8000, I stopped to take these photos. 

We would end up down in that valley.

The rest of the descent was as fun as always. I told Karen that the first time I came down that on Stella I could only go about 12 mph. I glanced down today and saw I was going 20 mph. So much fun!

Eventually, we ended up on Noshka. From there it was pavement. As we were riding on Delphi, Maria came along in her car. She wanted to make sure we were okay. Since Karen was going to be really late by the time we got back to the cars, Maria put her bike on the car, and drove Karen back to McLane. Jean and I rode back. I could have turned on 62nd for a shorter way home, but since the day was nice, I didn't mind riding with Jean back to McLane.

When we got back to McLane, I looked at my Garmin to see that the route I had planned was just under 33 miles. I will try to remember that for next time.

As I was heading home, it started to sprinkle a bit. The sun was still shining. As I looked back to change lanes so I could make the turn onto Mottman, I saw a rainbow. After I made the turn I took this photo.

I made it home just as it started to rain again. Perfect timing! As for the other group? They did turn around and took a slightly different way back to the Rock Candy parking lot. According to Maria, it was a little bit more mountain bike worthy, but everyone survived. Then, they took the hwy back (like Sarah had done). 

You never know what you are going to encounter out in the forest, but chainsaws and falling timber is a first!

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