Thursday, July 02, 2009

GTDRI 09: Recon Report II

<===Nearing the highest point of the route, you can see for miles....

Okay, I have the route reconned. Here's some more highlights.... You can see more of the opening sections of the GTDRI ride here.

Leaving Elkader, we'll go out on County C1X, which rolls along a stream valley, then heads right and up to this ridge view. Where C1X joins Harbor Rd, the views are outstanding in all directions. I bet I could see for up to five miles from there across valleys and lower hill tops. Amazing views!

<===The first B Maintenance road of the day.

After winding up and down some rollers, we get off C1X and on Imperial Rd. This is a B Maintenance road that starts out loose and steep with some pretty big, chunky gravel. Then it levels off, just a wee bit, to what you see in the photo here. A long, double track climb to 302nd Street. After this, we go down and up a couple of amazingly steep rollers to a bit of chip seal road for a couple of miles. Then we turn on to Impala Rd. This starts out with a couple ridiculous rollers, then makes a hard left, turns to B maintenance, and goes down sharply.

<===Loose, chunky rip-rap on Impala Road

Now Impala Road goes down a ridge side in a roller coaster fashion. We'll be picking our way down though, since it is all big, chunky, loose rock. This ain't yer garden variety chunk gravel folks! This is fresh outta the quarry limestone that is going to be tricky. It is steep in sections, and I had to crawl it with my SUV recon vehicle, like walking speed crawl it! Yeah, this is going to be fun! Especially if you bring a cross bike.

Impala Road dumps out to some fairly benign dirt and goes along the Turkey River for about a mile where we join X3C for a bit more pavement. We cross another stream and turn right on Iowa. This winds along the stream valley for a bit until we hit a cool little iron bridge.

<===Turning off Iowa to head back into the hills!

Then I hit a bit of a conundrum. I have two choices for the route to go across C7X and eventually to a heinous climb up above Bixby State Preserve. First choice is a rather nice gravel climb that eventually leads to spectacular views of the Volga River valley. The other goes left, turns right, goes across a low water crossing, gets narrower, with bigger chunk gravel, goes up, and then does something pretty amazing. Something I'm not sure anyone is up for. Here's the deal...

<===The low water crossing which leads to the worst "road" I've ever seen.

There is pretty fresh gravel after the low water crossing for about 200 yards of steep, double tracked road. Then the fresh gravel veers left into an Amish farmstead. The "road", if you can call it that, disappears quickly into a severely rutted dirt path that has been the playground of some monster trucks at one point. The ruts are literally three feet deep, and there is no way you can ride a bike up this steep climb. There is no ditch, it is literally walled in by brush and trees. Added to this is the fact that there are weeds choking the way, and did I mention it was steep?

This would be purely hike-a-bike for what I estimate would be a third of a mile, getting increasingly steeper until it pops out onto C7X right by.......I bet you can't guess......a cemetery! Then across the road for some big rollers, downhill to the river valley, and the heinous climb I mentioned previously, which we get no matter which way we choose!

I may let this be a "game time" decision.

Anyway, we get another mile of B Maintenance on top of a ridge then descending into Bixby State Preserve, I hear there is another low water crossing. (Yep! I have not seen it, because you can not drive a car down there!) Then back up to just north of Edgewood, turning west, we hit up Mission Road.

This is an old stage coach route that survived the "grid" pattern imposed upon the land back in the day. Mission Road is decidedly angular, and flattish! We'll go right through Strawberry point on this. Then heading northwards, we zig-zag across some very hilly terrain at times to Volga. Out of there, we have an engaging climb that lasts for miles. (Really!) Then we get to see parts of the T.I.V3 course as we roll past Wadena, going across the Volga, up a winding climb, to the backside of the Volga Recreation Area. Then we'll head northwards through the "hated Dove Road section" (Just ask EnduroSnob sometime!), and back to Echo Valley State Park.

It should end up being 100-120 miles or so.

I'll have more details coming soon. Stay tuned!

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