Saturday, July 17, 2021

Gravelly Shenanigans

Time is running out for ill-advised ideas for gravel rides!
 So, I noted that N.Y. Roll has a nifty idea for a gravel ride planned coming up on the end of this month. He is calling it the "Gravel Promenade" and you can hit that link to learn more. 

This got me motivated to take action on an idea I have spoken about with N.Y. Roll and do something about it. It's a crazy idea I had which has its beginnings in an old road ride that used to happen in the early 1990's around here. 

It was a century ride called "Todd and Mike's 104", a ride which was kind of a 'tour of the county' in a sense. Well, that idea has always been on my mind as an idea for a gravel ride. Touring through Black Hawk County sounded like a fun idea, that is, until I attempted "The Quest", my stab at riding every gravel road I had never ridden before in Black Hawk County. During that endeavor, I discovered how disjointed the county is, and how difficult touring the disparate parts of the county really is without doing scads of paved miles or going way out of your way to get around the interstate/limited access highways and the Cedar and Wapsipinicon Rivers. 

So, I kind of gravitated toward looking at a circumnavigation of the county instead. This was the specific idea I had conversations about with N.Y. Roll. Even doing this idea requires some gymnastics, of sorts, in regard to getting around the obstacles previously mentioned. For instance, getting around the Wapsipinicon River is no easy task. The Northeastern bit of Black Hawk County, as with the surrounding area in Bremer and Buchanan Counties, is really best done on pavement. Not what I want, and so you kind of end up not being exactly near the border on the Eastern leg. 

A snippet showing the NE bit of the ToBHC

Then you have to navigate the HWY 20/Cedar River/I-380 obstacles on the Eastern side with a slew of truncated roads and bunches of busy county paved roads. This forced a few areas of the ride to actually be in Western Buchanan County and Northeastern Benton County. The route also had to use a couple of stretches of pavement to cross HWY 20 and I-380, while I used the Cedar Valley Nature Trail to get across the Cedar River near La Porte City. 

The rest of the route was pretty straightforward. Since Southern Black Hawk County does not have a 'border road' across to the West, I used Reinbeck Road, it being the Southernmost East-West gravel in the county. Then, oddly enough, almost the entire Western border of Black Hawk County is lined with gravel roads, so that bit was easy. 

There was another difficult area to get around up in Northwestern Black Hawk County where you have to deal with "The Turkey Foot" area of the Cedar/Shell Rock/West Fork river convergence. This forced a bit of a jaunt into Butler County and Bremer County before getting back to Black Hawk again. 

But the route has been mostly all ridden before, thanks in part to "The Quest", and only the Southeastern bit is in question. That is such a small bit I am willing to take the risk that it exists anyway. So, while I was afraid this would end up being some enormous amount of mileage, it turns out to be a very doable 113.4 miles and has a paltry amount of elevation gain. I do not ever subscribe to the accuracy, or likely lack thereof, of elevation information when talking about elevation numbers generated by route finding sites. Suffice it to say that since this route finds its way near many rivers that the route profile doesn't have a ton of climbing. 

I'm calling it the "Tour of Black Hawk County" and it will serve as my "Guitar Ted Death Ride" for the year. I may even do it on a single speed. Stay tuned...........


hank said...

G-Ted, Howdy;

Reckon the folks that run the primary programming for the site
favor the retro look as far as the template for the Blog. That's OK,
as it's the content that matters the most. You don't disappoint.
Thanks for what you do.


Guitar Ted said...

@ hank - Much appreciated! Thank you.