- 10:00 am - Wed, Apr 23, 2014
- 3 notes
Location: Athens, Ohio
Last weekend Tom, Mary and I geared up for our final pre-ride/camp-out before we head out West for Oregon Outback (a 360-mile dirt road ride across Oregon). I have always wanted to explore the appalachian landscape, and glacial cave systems out near Hocking Hills so what better way to explore the region than high mileage bike ride. My goal with the route was to include as much dirt and distance as possible to get us ready for what our first day goal for the Oregon Outback is; to reach The Cowboy Dinner Tree for our 7:30 PM reservation (115 miles of dirt roads in under 12 hours).
Day one was tough. I had planned for us to ride about 90-ish miles west of Athens, to Tar Hollow, then north to Hocking Hills from there. At mile 15 we hit what looked like a fantastic double track gravel rail-trail, the catch was that all the train bridges that once crossed the deep creek gullies had been removed. Rather than turning back and taking a major paved detour around the trail, we all chose to push forward, a decision that ultimately made for a lot of hike-a-biking, 6 creek crossings, a 3-hour time penalty, and more water consumption than what we had planned for that distance. At mile 30, it was 3 o’clock, we were running low on water, and had (what we thought at the time, “only” 60 miles to go…). At this point we were solely focused on finding easy water and going the distance. We found salvation at a glorious water spigot in Tar Hollow which would be the only water we would take until mile 90. Gradually, night rolled in, hiding the landscape from view. We could easily feel that we were nearing Hocking Hills as the grades became steeper, and steeper (13-25% grades with heavy bikes!!). I wish we could have seen some of those roads in daylight. Climbing steep, loose, cat litter gravel, and then bombing down the backside becomes a different, smoother, blacker thing in the cool night. Our headlights flashed scenes of rock walls dripping wet and fern covered as we pressed on in survival mode. The whole time I was thinking “my mom and dad are going to kill me for torturing my sister like this!” but the kid won’t crack. She’s tough stuff.
After becoming one with the hills, we setup camp at 10:30 PM, enjoyed luxury camping with our 3-person tent, inflatable sleeping matts, inflatable pillows, more food than we needed, and a bathroom nearby. Ultimately, we rode about 100 miles (due to a few more detours along the way) for a little over 12 hours (including the hike-a-bike). I like to think that we increased our relative toughness scale by a healthy percentage.
Day two was a luxury day compared to day one with perfect weather, perfect scenery, a Bob Evan’s binge stop, ultimately making our 70-mile day a typical joyful bike ride. I fell in love with the narrow, punching roller-coaster gravel roads throughout Hocking and Vinton County. If you have never been out there- check it out! Although, don’t say I didn’t warn you about this particular route…
We rode the bikes as pictured above with frame mounted bags from Porcelain Rocket and Revelate Designs. In our experience with loaded riding, bags like this handle loads well on and off road, quietly, without sacrificing ride quality. They also create a very compact, organized packing system. I was experimenting with a basket and rack built by Tom which worked great and allowed for a lot more capacity, which I used, and it was a bit front-end heavy to lug up steep hike-a-bike sections. In the bags we split the weight of a 3-person tent, each carried our own food, sleeping bag, mat, pillow, water (2500 ml each), lights, and basic necessities.
So like anything we do, we encourage you to try it out! If this seems at all interesting to you then why not select a do-able route for you and a friend to tackle. Most folks already have some camping equipment. You don’t have to go far, just go somewhere fun!
- 9:51 pm - Thu, Apr 17, 2014
- 1 note
We build a fair share of wheels here.
- 3:08 pm - Wed, Apr 9, 2014
- 1 note
Join us on May 11 for the second annual Highlands Passage through Daniel Boone National Forest!
Date and Time: 9:00 AM on Sunday, May 11, 2014
Start Location: Miguel’s Pizza off of Natural Bridge Rd, Slade, KY.
Terrain: Paved roads with a 10 mile section of hard packed gravel.
Statistics: 108 miles and approximately 7000 ft. of climbing OR 36 miles and 2,400 ft. of climbing.
For more details about the ride, click here!
- 2:52 pm - Thu, Mar 20, 2014
- 2 notes
Tomorrows rider course topic will be chains! Join us at 6PM to learn all you would ever need or want to know about chains and chain care including installation, sizing, wear and damage, cleaning, and lubrication. BYOB and BYOB (bring your own beer and bike!).
- 6:21 pm - Fri, Mar 7, 2014
A group of riders gathered together for what would be our first non-snow ride of the season. The occasion was the Ridgetop Ramble, a self-supported social gravel ride through Shawnee State Forest. There were two routes available for folks to choose from this year. The 100k route with nearly 7,500 ft of climbing was designed to show the diverse beauty of Shawnee State Forest, to reveal the full damage of a hard winter upon your fitness, and to highlight the climbing available in Southern Ohio. It is a brutal little route without a doubt. The second option was a 70K route with a 4,500 ft of climbing designed for those looking for a fun day of mixed terrain in a beautiful place.
After the snow covered roads thawed for the first time in a month, we met at the Shawnee State Park Lodge on a beautiful nearly 50 degree morning with blue skies. We had a great turn out of folks from all over Ohio.
The ride started with spirits high to be spinning our legs outside under the sunshine. The soggy roads were evident from the beginning on lower elevation roads. This increased our efforts and decreased our speeds on the flats, making us long for the increase in elevation ahead, where the roads would be dry.
We road on in a natural rhythm of climbing and descending, which is all you do at Shawnee. The further into the forest we got the rougher the roads became, the more flats occurred, and the darker the sky became. Rain was upon us and we needed to get moving. There were 20 miles to go. Our large group divided into three. The three groups would ultimately take various routes back to the parking lot as first, the rain rolled in, then sleet, then snow. Most folks finished the ride soaking wet in 30 degree temperatures. Only one group of four completed the entire route that day.
The 70K group looked like they had a great time! Check out Matt’s photos here.
Ultimately it was a terrific time to ride with a great group of folks willing to ride hard, for fun, in a beautiful place. Next ride up is, Highlands Passage, down in Daniel Boone National Forest! Save the date for May 11th, 2014.
- 5:58 pm - Fri, Feb 28, 2014
We are selling off our demo bikes and you should check the upcoming weather! For inventory and pricing, click here.
- 2:06 pm - Wed, Feb 12, 2014
The Ridgetop Ramble has been rescheduled for Sunday, February 23! Click here, for more details about the ride.
- 4:12 pm - Tue, Feb 11, 2014
- 55 notes
Join us this Friday, February 14 at 6PM for our second Rider Course! This Valentine’s Day bring your date (even if it’s just your bike), and learn how to wrap your handlebar tape so it lasts and looks good. Sound romantic? We think so!
We encourage you to bring your bike to this course!
For more info on our rider courses, click here.
- 2:08 pm
- 2 notes
Ridgetop SNOW Ramble
The Ridgetop Ramble is best enjoyed as a gravel ride. Gravel rides can be mud covered, dusty, cold, hot, and any way you like, but when we arrived at Shawnee State Forest the gravel had disappeared. With a healthy 8-10” of snow covering the forest roads, we made the call to postpone the Ridgetop Ramble and make good use of the white stuff.
The snow changes everything. The terrain develops a micro-character as tracks develop on the snow and ice. As your eyes drift over a landscape that will change before the next ride, a frozen mud rut, left during warmer days, calls your attention back to the surface under the tires. Tracks from four-wheel-drive machines are tempting. They offer the legs a bit of rest, but the deep ice-edged tracks, are just like a game of “Operation”, touch an edge and you’re out!
Ride plans may change, but a proper day out, upon any terrain, is always worth the trip! We hope you were able to get out despite the change of plans and we look forward to riding the Ridgetop Ramble with you as soon as the snow melts. Stay posted!