|This sign is at the start of one of the best sections of gravel around in Iowa.|
Of course, I am talking about "Ridge Road" in Northern Tama County. This road is only about 27 miles or so from home and just outside of Traer, Iowa. In fact, you can park in Northwest Traer, be on gravel in a block's distance, and within two miles you are at the foot of the climb up which marks the start of Ridge Road.
Ridge Road, just like the name suggests, is on a high ridge running Northwest to Southeast for several miles. This gravel road meanders atop the ridge offering travelers spectacular views off either side of the road for miles. The trip is worth it just for the view, but the climb is also one of the only ones of its type in Iowa. A climb that rises steadily for over a mile, and despite a few rollers on top, never really quits climbing if you come from Traer. The "easier" passage of Ridge Road is to take it starting on the Northwestern end of it and travel toward Traer. But trust me, you don't want to do that if you want to earn your "Expert Level" Gravel Scout Badge. That's because Ridge Road can be put in a loop course in and out of Traer that, in my opinion, is one of the most physically and technically challenging loops in the State.
I say this because when I put on Trans Iowa, I loved using this area for routes. Tama County is no joke, and the gravel travel in Tama County is awesome. I've not only used this area for Trans Iowa courses, but for Guitar Ted Death Ride courses as well. I've been around too, and I can say with some confidence that there isn't much tougher challenges out there then some of what Tama County has on offer, and this loop I did is a great sampler platter, if you will. This loop, as a matter of fact, is one I would not recommend to anyone not confident with and/or not very experienced in gravel skills. The risks are too high for folks with poor handling skills.
|A twisty road sign- one of my favorites!|
|You can literally see for miles off either side of Ridge Road on a good day.|
|You can see this rural water tower for miles around. It takes quite an effort to go by it!|
|Coming down off Ridge Road on K Avenue, South. You'd better be a confident downhiller on these roads!|
|I rode the carbon Noble Bikes GR-5. NOTE- The "white patch" behind the telephone pole is the next hill on gravel!|
|Getting to see this view from atop the Wolf Creek Wall means you had to pay in some tough climbing.|
|A lonely John Deere sits in a field near Traer, Iowa.|
|Barns for Jason|
|There is nothing finer than an Iowa dirt road in summer. Fast! Smooth! Fun!|
|Barns For Jason- Part 2|
|I remember someone remarking at this year's GTDRI that dirt road intersections seemed odd. Well, here is another one!|
|Good times on O Avenue South of Highway 63 in Tama County.|
|Barns For Jason- Part 3|
|Barns For Jason- Part 4|
|The low water crossing of the Wolf Creek on O Avenue.|
|Climbing up from the water crossing on O Avenue.|
I had a good outing and felt pretty good on this ride. I need to get down there more often and ride. I can put together several variations of loops from Traer, but the one I did is probably the most difficult and the most fun. I'd do it again in a heartbeat on a good day.