Franklin Grove Gravel

You know, I do still ride bikes.  It’s not all about titanium this and Moots that.


That’s not mine.  It’s not even me.  I don’t even know who this is.

Ok.  I do know who it is.

Saturday, a group of us headed out from DeKalb earrrrrly to hit some Franklin Grove gravel before people’s various and sundry Saturday obligations occurred.  The roads out there were beautiful.  That’s Nevdal above, showing the way.

Here’s Tobie, clutching an invisible bowling ball.

Lord only knows what’s up with that Jersey.

Chad G came out on the XO and put down some gravel miles, since his return from points west.

There was also Chad A, BPaul and Lenny.

Lots of nice, little rollers.

The roads and scenery were great.  Beautiful gravel, nice rollers, happy cows, belligerent horses.  I look forward to going back for more.  My Moots was very happy, as well.

We did about 36 miles of gravel down there, and then a majority of the group headed back for DeKalb via cars.  Nevdal, Lenny and I headed back via bike.  Knowing that we were riding back, I had pulled in the reins a bit and held back on the morning loop, even when my competitiveness told me to do otherwise.  That ended up being a good decision.

We rode a paceline, and I was feeling good pushing along at a smidge over 22mph.  Then, Lenny would get up front, and suddenly we’d be doing 25.  I’m pretty sure he’s an alien.  Or a cyborg.  Perhaps an alien cyborg.

There were showers on and off for a while, and Aaron looked particularly pro with his pocket-banana.

(Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you happy to be riding a Moots?)

When we turned left on Twombly to head back east to DeKalb, the sky looked pretty ominous.  These pictures do not do it justice…it started to dump.

Looking at the constant spatter of raindrops in those puddles should give you some idea of what it was like.  My favorite part of the above picture: how unfazed those dudes look.  McKayla Maroney is not impressed.

It was raining hard enough that the road was just water.  When Twombly turned to gravel, there was water across the whole road.  It was just like a Rapha video, minus the video cameras, attractive models, and expensive clothing.  We were drenched.  You can only get so wet, and we got there–to all of the way, fully, fully wet.  100% wetness achieved.

I ended up with 80 miles and 2,600 feet of climbing on the day.  Our morning loop with the bigger group averaged around 16 mph.  By the time we were back to DeKalb, the average speed was nearly 18.  Including the downpours, the gravel, and all of the ‘fun’.  Yup–we were hauling.

Lenny and Nevdal are amazingly strong riders.  I have no idea how hard they were working, but I was maxed out.  I had nothing left…when we were pacelining, I was pulling until I was spent–which varied between 6/10 and a mile.  (I was watching the mileage to make sure I was at least pulling 6/10 at a shot).  That was all I could do…and then hop back on the tail and try not to get dropped.  It was a hard ride.

My wife asked me if it was fun.  I was telling her how hard it was, and how worked over I was, and she asked why I did it.  It’s an excellent question, and it’s really hard to answer.

During the ride, were there times that I wanted to give up?  To get dropped?  Yes.

During the ride, were there times that I had wished it was over?  Honestly, yes.

When it was done, was I happy to have finished, and to have ridden strong?  Yes.

But is it all really about feeling good about it when it’s over?  No–that’s really doing the ride a disservice.  Riding is something bigger.  The morning’s scenery was beautiful.  The adventure of the ride through the rain was remarkable.  Finishing that ride and knowing that it made me stronger for the next ride is rewarding.  The camaraderie of going through conditions like that with friends is beyond description.  Was it fun?  Absolutely.  No, but absolutely yes.  At times.  Overall.  Except when it wasn’t.  Yes.

Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.




4 thoughts on “Franklin Grove Gravel

  1. Good Afternoon,
    I’ve been following your blog for quit some time. I admire your dedication to biking and your love of wrenching on them. I was hoping you could give me some advice on the purchase of a bike for a good buddy of mine who would like to get backing to biking after many years of being a desk jockey. His problems he weights 375 lbs. and is about six feet tall. Do you have any recommendations for bike that would fit him and cost under $1500? He lives across the street from miles of paved trails. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,

    • I absolutely have some thoughts.

      First, he should talk to a local bike shop, and get some local advice tailored to the trails and conditions there, and what he’s likely to experience. They can also help him assess sizing and fit, and hopefully work with him on future service needs (and upgrades)!

      Second, if he doesn’t have a local bike shop, he should talk to my local bike shop.

      Third, I talked to Chad at North Central Cyclery, and while it’s kind of hard to make blind recommendations for an unseen rider, there are obviously bikes that are better–or worse–suited for a rider who is working to overcome some weight challenges. For example, Trek makes the Shift 4, which is expressly designed for a heavier rider–and has components that will suit him as he works on getting back into cycling.

      Good luck!

  2. You hit the nail on the head. Tobie’s jersey is straight up fugly. Did he lose a bet or something.

    My guess is that Nevdal was feeling some pain, but you’ll never know that cause he does blog like you.

    Strong work. Keep it up.

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