Thursday, October 07, 2010

In Search Of: A "B Maintenance Road"

Do you remember that old show called "In Search Of" starring Leonard Nimoy? Yeah, I used to watch that back in the day. Well, yesterday's adventure was something that reminded me of that show, only my adventure wasn't about the paranormal, odd cults, or witches. It was about finding a "B Maintenance" road I had heard about last week.
So, before I get started, I have to post this disclaimer:

This post presents information based in part on theory and conjecture. The blogger's purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones, to the mysteries we will examine.

Okay, so here's the deal. Last Thursday, "Doug-E-Fresh" comes in and tells me that he'd been on a B Maintenance road just south of Waterloo and east of HWY 63. Huh? Really? I have been all over those roads and had never seen it. He said the same. He'd never seen it before either, and had come up on it purely by accident. Doug-E had some trouble recalling the details, but I got enough out of him to know where to look. By Doug-E's description, the road was an epic B Road, and not just some dirt smoothie stretch of gravel. I had to find out if it was true.

Was Doug-E-Fresh really on this B Road, or was it a bad case of gravel dust inhalation? Maybe he knocked his head on a rock and had a vision? This needed to be either proven or dis-proven. Does the mysterious B Road actually exist?

I had a day off and it was beautiful. After running a few errands, I had a bit of free time to go explore this mystery. I figured it couldn't take more than a couple hours to ride out and see if this B Road was really there. I have been riding this area a lot for years, and I hadn't seen any signs of a B Road anywhere in the area. I would have thought that I would have come across it by now, but maybe not. Doug-E's description of its whereabouts was right on roads I had ridden on several times before.

So I set off through town and the trees were beautiful in the sun. The wind was gently blowing the leaves out and across my path. It was like a cycling version of a ticker tape parade. The sun was out and riding high up in the sky. It was a fine day to be out exploring.

I then got out into the countryside south of town on familiar roads. These weren't near as pretty as what I had just experienced on the Rawland Fall Tour, so it was sort of a bleak, tough ride into the wind, which had picked up somewhat out there. The ride last weekend was picture-postcard perfect, and this seemed to be the opposite, but hey! I was exploring and I was having fun regardless. I was on my Singular Gryphon single speed and was cruising along a a pretty decent clip despite the wind. I went south as far as I thought Doug-E's directions were supposed to lead me and then I was on the lookout for Petrie Road.

Petrie Road west and into more wind and hills. Okay, the directions were to go as far as Aker Road and then I was supposed to find "it". The elusive B Maintenance Road that was an extension of Petrie Road. Doug-E claimed that the road went across Aker, by a house, and then went to heck in a hand basket, according to him.

He had said that on his excursion, the road was so wet and boggy he could barely traverse it. Supposedly it was not marked by the traditional "Enter At Your Own Risk" sign, but had a warning about being "impassable during high water", or something to that effect. Well, what did you know, but I saw the beginnings of the dirt sector as I crested a hill on Petrie. There off in the distance it was, just beyond what looked like to be a fair stand of pines on the south side of the road. Likely a farmstead. Maybe Doug-E had it right after all.

Okay, passed the farm house and this is what I saw. Dirt road all right. Going up over a hill, certainly, but nothing astoundingly terrible, as Doug-E had described. Still, here was a B Maintenance road I hadn't seen before. The funny thing was I had ridden right through the intersection leading up to it probably two dozen times, but the farm house and slight uphill gravel leading to it obscured the view to the dirt and the traditional signage is not there.

Doug-E had also said it was really wet when he rode this, but of course, it has been dry since, so the dirt was solid leading up the hill.

Up over the hill and down again. I found the mud hole, and it was still slightly wet. There were ruts the size of Texas and plenty of tractor tread marks that made for a dirt rumble strip sort of ride. Then up the other side it got sandy. Really deep, fine sand too. My two inch tires were wallowing, but had enough width that I was able to float up over the stuff.

Did I say there were ruts? This road has some of the worst I've seen. Deep ruts that will catch your pedals if you are not careful. Up the hill again and down again. I decided to stop and enjoy the rustic solitude for a bit. Flowers- the last of the season that had survived the first few frosts, were adorning the sides of the road. My favorite color too. Purple. I took it in as I knew I would be waiting another six months before I would be able to enjoy wild flowers along the roads again.

At the end of the road, I saw the evidence of Doug-E's earlier passage. It was real. He was right, and this was no longer a mystery. I had searched for the road and found it. What is more, I rode on it, and it was fantastic! Rutted, bumpy, sandy, and pretty awesome for being so close to home.

The thing is, this isn't going to last. It is pretty apparent that zero maintenance has happened here for a long, long time. This is usually a sign that the next step is nigh; Decommissioned or "C" class status will be next, and it will happen sooner than later. Any locals that want a taste of this had better go check it out now. A gate or a plowed field will be all you'll find within a year or so, is what I am thinking.

And if that happens, it really will be a mystery road with no discovering it!


SS:Mtn Biker said...

Kool find,and those black 'n whites are killer =)


Travel Gravel said...

Ansel Adams, kiss my grits! Good looking shots G! B road is such a rare commodity around Boone County, I know of only two sections totaling about a half to three quarters of a mile.