Monday, July 17, 2017

GTDRI '17: Update- Some Recon

 I'd never seen a heli crop dusting till Saturday, and then I saw two on the same day!
Saturday I got out for a partial recon of the GTDRI route. My route has a road in it which I had never been on and which looked rather suspicious. It had a lot of Level B Maintenance sections, creeks running across it, and it was in the most remote part of Tama County there is. After having been bombing around the countryside since 2004 doing recon for gravel events, I have picked up a few tips on what to look for on a map when it comes to problems, and O Avenue had all the hallmarks of a road that had closures. Never mind that the DOT map showed that it all was there. That doesn't guarantee anything.

So, my goal was to ride to the start of where the route picks up O Avenue and run it through to see if we can use it, or if I would have to do a reroute. Of course, O Avenue is a long way from the house, so this wasn't a small undertaking. I chose the Fargo Gen I as my ride since it carries so much water and has meatier tires which deal with loose gravel better. With a beautiful day on tap, I had nothing holding me back from doing the trip.

I had loaded up the Fargo the evening before and I was out of the house by 8:30-ish, which wasn't too bad. I figured this trip at about 70-75 miles, depending upon what I found.

Fortunately, there were no workers at this site to say "no". I rode across.
I had a few maps, mostly to help me navigate around Wolf Creek and Twelve Mile Creek since the roads don't go across these rivers in many spots. I ended up choosing 130th Street in Tama County to cross Westward over to P Avenue which would eventually get me to O Avenue. There wasn't too much loose, deep gravel going this way, and the Southerly wind wasn't blasting me in the face. The going wasn't bad then. However; I passed a blown over road sign which looked all the world like a road closed sign. Dang it! Would 130th be closed? I had a sneaking suspicion I may be backtracking a few miles.

As it turned out, there was a new bridge being built, and fortunately, the new decking was already poured. I walked around the barriers and rode across, being very careful not to run over something sharp. The deck of the bridge was a complete mess of construction debris. No workers were there to say "no", so I scooted by and didn't look back. That was one check avoided!

P Avenue, looking South, just North of Traer, Iowa.
The low water crossing of Wolf Creek just West of Traer, Iowa on O Avenue.
Eventually I reached O Avenue, but North of where we will be getting on it. I wanted to check out the low water crossing of the Wolf Creek which is one of my favorite stretches of Level B Maintenance Road anywhere. I just think it is pretty odd that such a wide, vigorous creek is crossed in such a manner. Usually this sort of thing is reserved for much smaller, narrower creeks.

Then it was on to HWY 63, a bit of a jig-a-jog to the West to get to O Avenue's run South of HWY 63, and then on to five miles of Level B Maintenance road. Interestingly, all the Google generated maps have this first mile South of 63 listed as "Level E Road", which is very odd. Anyway,it is, in fact, signed "O Avenue", and it is black earth for about two straight miles.

Our GTDRI route joins this from the East a mile in on 190th Street. Then the GTDRI route will turn left and go straight South for several miles. Or that is what I was expecting. Following are several shots of the dirt roads on this stretch of the route.

This is after the black earth section and is mostly clay here. 
Then in the next mile O Avenue deteriorates into this grassy two-track. Note the dogleg in the road.
This interesting intersection leads out of the two-track.
The 4th, and last mile on O Avenue we will see of Level B, runs back into a grassy two-track before it turns back to gravel.
Unfortunately, I found out with a mile and a half to go on O Avenue that there road ends in a dead end. Actually, I wasn't surprised by this from the looks of the maps I'd seen. So, once again, it is always best to verify maps. They often are not correct, especially in rural areas. Now I'll have to do some rerouting....

But first, I needed to get back home, so of course, I rode all those rad dirt roads backward to Traer! Then I got off at the convenience store to resupply. I had a grilled chicken sandwich too. Then I took off again. By this time, it was getting really hot, and I was traveling with the wind, so there was essentially no cooling going on from the air. I felt like I was baking in an oven.

I helped escort this turtle off the road near TF Clark Park North of Traer.
I ended up stopping to cool off four different times. Fortunately, I had lots of water and a few times I used it to pour over my head and back of my neck to cool myself down. It didn't help that the night before was a bad night of sleep for me either. A couple of the times I pulled over it was to try to catch a power nap so I could continue!

I had a chance meeting on the way home with a gentleman who was mowing his ditch. He sort of looked at me with a quizzical look that indicated that he'd like to have a word with me, so I pulled over, he shut down the mower, and we chatted. At one point, he asked me if I knew anything about this, "....whatchamacallit.......gravel road.......a race......something about a hundred miles or......do you know anything about that?"

I said, "Was it "300 Miles of Gravel"? Was it on PBS?"

He indicated that, yeah, he thought that was probably it. Then I told him, "Yeah, well I'm the guy that puts that race on."

You'd have thunk he met a celebrity.

Well, after that I rolled down the road about a quarter mile and collapsed under a tree for half an hour resting. Not very glamorous! Ha! But.....effective. I was able to limp it on home and I ended up with 69 miles on the day. I can say that I am definitely NOT ready for the GTDRI. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me. And I have to reroute the course.

Stay tuned.......

1 comment:

Rob E said...

If the Real Housewives of (insert city here) or the Kardasians can be called celebrities, you'd certainly quality by those standards. You probably should contact a talent agent ASAP!