Among the assortment of bikes that I've procured through the always exceptional Freewheeler Bike Shop is my trusty Niner Air 9 RDO, which has recently seen a rapid increase in activity. I dabble on trails and gravel throughout the summer when i just need a break in training, but this time of year it's a complete roll reversal. My Fuji will get it's well earned break and rest comfortably indoors while my Niner takes the full flogging. I have had a particular itch to ride gravel at the tail end of August coming into September. I think it's a combination of the rural setting associated with non-paved roads, the minimal amount of traffic, and random seasonal roads interspersed throughout the countryside that pique my interest the most. There's something about hammering out some steady mileage as the sun is busy painting the skyline in iridescent tones that just screams "Fall is here!!!" to me (Fall happens to be my favorite season). It feels good to breathe in the cool evening air and just go wherever the dirt roads wind to. I find that i am in dire need of a break from structured training this time of year, and getting out on the MTB is just the cure.
View of the Lowell countryside with fellow Freewheeler Eric
Notice the mismatched wheels, the matching front was destroyed at Gaslight
The weekend following Birmingham, Labor Day weekend, was set to be one full of fun riding and racing. Bissell is kind enough to make the weekend 4 days in length with the addition of Friday off from work. My work friends and i had a scheme to ride around 50 miles of gravel starting in Allendale at Scott's house, stopping at Lake Michigan for a break, and returning via a different route. What we didn't count on was the toll that the wind and savage heat/humidity would take on us. Starting the ride out we knew we were in for a more difficult day than any of us had desired. A third of the way into the ride we hit a season road that could pull double duty as a beach.
Joe assessing the road conditions thoroughly
A welcome timeout on the friday ride
Joe and Aaron practicing for the circus
My tan lines, loud and proud! Photo courtesy of Julie McGraw
This week has been primarily filled with more gravel and single-track as i prepare myself for the Chequamegon 40. I attended my first Korienek Killer gravel road ride and had a blast! Those guys sure know how to have a good time, with plenty of dirt and sand to go around. It was the first time i've had the headlamp out in a while and it felt good. Last night was spent carving up some local singletrack in the cannonsburg area with an ascent/descent of the main ski hill thrown in for good measure. I'm looking forward to many more gravel group rides and singletrack shenanigans as Fall gets into full swing!
Cruising the beach in the Allegan state forest
View from atop the Cannonsburg ski hill