An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Pavement routes are easy...

Among the cogniscenti on Velocipede Salon, there's an annual event called "The Baller's Ride" that happens over Memorial Day weekend. It's a two-day event that involves one day of incredible climbs over gravel roads on one day, an easier road ride the next, sandwiching a night that is a combination of party and bike-builder-extraordinaire symposium (Richard Sachs, Crumpton, etc). Reports have been awesome, and every one who has attended has come away impressed.

Unfortunately, this is on the east coast (Virginia).

Since reading about this event, I've had a vision of a West Coast version of Baller's. And we certainly have no dearth of bike builders on the Pacific Northwest, from Portland to Seattle.

But finding the routes has proven to be problematic.

Pavement is easy -- maps are generally accurate, making loops is not a challenge, and traffic patterns are relatively apparent.

Gravel roads? Right... Everything from private property, and thus gated off, to paths that become goat-tracks only peter off into nothing (but are shown as through roads) make route planning a chore. The problem isn't so much finding a gravel road, it's finding one that GOES somewhere. Reconnaissance is mandatory, with lots of time (and gas) allowed for back-tracking and re-routes.

I've been planning something in the Capitol Forest for a little while, and have gotten a couple people on board (a builder and a shop owner) with the idea. I had a decent route planned, a nice diner to use as a start/finish base of operations. My thought was to do the gravel road day as the lead-in this year, and let it grow from there into a 2-day event with the evening get-together. The second day road-route is already set up -- that's the easy part.

The best laid plans, and all that. Yesterday my wife and I drove out to check the roads. After the second dead end, and no time left, we had to abandon.

More route planning this morning, using more satellite photos, and I think I've got it ironed out. Just need to get out there and make sure the roads go where I think they do. Aerial views look promising.

And then I get the email from the state Department of Natural Resources... Permitting and event registration... Dead in the water for 2013.

Oh well, at least I have a jump on 2014.

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