Michaux Gravel Grinder

Andrew had the good idea to ride some gravel today…

38 miles | 4520′ | maybe more words later. I gotta sleep now…

…While riding we joked about how these things happen. He’s been excited about riding out in Michaux for a while now. On Thursday or Friday he emailed our regular group and tossed the idea of driving out there a go. I was a little sketched out about the elevations but didn’t want to squash his enthusiasm so I “checked YES” and sent a reply. I went back to look at the RWGPS track and immediately started to regret my decision. These mixed feelings of excitement and regret continued straight up through the moment when we started to pedal away from the car. Andrew told me he was going through a similar process of hesitation and unwillingness to back out after he sent his original invite. Shout out to great friends with crazy ideas because if it wasn’t for that I’d probably never get to the trailhead by myself. Once on the bike we were greeted with some of the most gorgeous (and brutal) terrain I’ve ever ridden through. The mystery person who designed this 80/20% unpaved/paved route really had us off the beaten path…

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We’d be rolling along on some beautiful well-maintained back road and the gps would ding. Off to the left there would be a barrier with a muddy double track fire road. This happened more times than I could count. The one road was muddy-fresh from the rain and barely passable (documented in photos 8 & 9 above). The crushed rocky section I took a picture of was actually the EASIEST part. For most of it I was caught in a muddy tire rut pedaling for my life. I said to my self “Self, you can take a picture if you have to clip out but until then keep pedaling.” Somehow I made it through in one piece without stopping.

Around mile 22 we were on a screaming descent for what felt like forever. Half-way down I started to think “This is going to hurt.” Lucky for us the worst of the pain was on the rutted paths and 11% grades behind us. At the bottom, I looked at my map screen and realized that we were basically going to climb straight back up the same mountain on another pass. Going was much smoother here and when we finished descending a second time we were nearly home. There was an on-road stretch at the bottom of the loop that was flat/rolling. Knowing we were about 5 miles from the car I hit it as hard as I could. I wish I had left a little gas in the tank because at the very end there was about 2 miles and 300 feet of climbing–just enough to completely finish me for the day. We changed out of the muddiest of our clothes and hit the road with time to grab lunch/dinner in Frederick and be home long before sundown.

Thanks again Andrew for making me work for my Saturday. It was a blast!

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