Saturday, July 18, 2015

Funk Bottoms Gravel Route

With a wide open schedule Saturday and the rest of the family traveling I planned for adventure.  First thought was to hit up a couple mountain bike trails I've never ridden, but the perpetually wet summer has put these trails out of commission.  While eating a late breakfast I stumbled on the idea of riding the Funk Bottoms Gravel metric century route.

Mid-day start for a long ride.

I quickly gathered up bike gear, food, and drink.  Of course the day I decide to do this route is hot and humid, perhaps the hottest of the year so far.  Good thing there would be at least a couple options for mid-ride refueling in Killbuck and Glenmont.

Humble is a good way to go. 

Out of the parking lot in Lakeville and straight up a hill then onto gravel.  It was an appropriate start for the route.  I planned to ride a steady pace and not push it unless needed.  After all, I had however much time I needed today.  I wanted to take some pictures and enjoy the ride.

Plenty of gravel and scenery along the way.
Oh, and blaring sun too.

Many of these roads I'd ridden before but never connecting together for 100km.  I was making quite a few map checks and stopping at most intersections to verify the route.  As I turned onto TR221 northeast of Glenmont I knew the fun ahead.  A fast, fast gravel down hill and a big climb up TR251, a one lane gravel "road".

Refill and refuel at the drivethru window in Killbuck.

Coming into Killbuck I was nearly out of water, so a stop was needed.  To prove to myself that I was not in a hurry, and because it sounded refreshing, I stopped for ice cream.  Never done that mid ride that I can remember. 

 Supporting Orrville by enjoying ice cream

Leaving Killbuck I got turned around and made a couple laps up and down Main St. to get my bearings.  As is often the case, it was really obvious once I figured it out.  The gravel kept coming south of Killbuck with some winding, secluded country roads that would occasionally open up to big views of the valley.

Lots of green to be seen.

And then it got really interesting... heading west on TR324, at the most southern part of the route, I was looking for a right hand turn to head north.  I spotted a driveway / access road but continued on in search of TR28.

Surely that's not the road.

I stopped for another map check and then a GPS map on my phone check.  Yeah, that was the "road" I had passed.  It wasn't much of a road, let's call it a trail.  Narrow, rutted, and full of puddles.  Fun ahead!

 Are you sure this is the way?

 Through the woods.

Now I understand. 

About a mile later the trail opened up to a township road.  I looked back and spotted a sign that made sense.  A Jeep or ATV would be needed to traverse that section, or a cross bike can get the job done too.

Now it was all about riding north.  Glenmont was the next stop where I stopped at the volunteer fire department and was thankful for a couple cold bottles of water.  The gravel climb out of Glenmont was a good one.  I think I've ridden all the paved ways out of Glenmont but this way was a good, uphill gravel grind.

Legs filling up with miles. 

The heat and sun and effort was starting to catch up with me.  Looking at the map I saw a strange loop instead of a straighter option north and I knew what that likely meant; some more climbing was coming.  I stopped at a little bridge over a stream to eat a PB&J while looking up the gravel hill I was about climb.

In the homestretch but the hills kept coming!

By this time I felt like I was going really slow on the hills but I was still cranking as necessary and keeping it together on the gravel.  In the last several miles my legs felt good and I was able to dial in some speed on the pavement. 

I remember thinking this was the final uphill,
but I don't think it was. 

One last map check and I thought I had the finish dialed.  Except, I failed to pay attention to an intersection where I should have stayed left and I went right.  By this time some cloud cover had rolled in and I didn't realize I was heading south instead of north, but three miles later I figured it out.  Ouch, this was not the time in the ride I wanted to be adding bonus miles.  I sucked down a GU and backtracked.

About 6-1/2 hours and 70 miles later I was back to the car.  It was a great, challenging, and scenic route.  Lots and lots of gravel.  Good time!

A victory sneer... ready for some food and recovery.

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