Now that school has wrapped up for the summer and my family and I are now--mostly--settled in our new home, I figured it was time to go explore the surrounding area for some riding.
Having heard that this was a road cyclist's area, I headed out on the road bike to look for some interesting routes. Last Friday, I went out on a local loop and wanted to mix it up a bit. Armed with the GPS, I started the loop as normal, but one point I decided to deviate. Looking at the screen, I saw that the road I was on hooked up with one of the few roads in the area I knew: a two lane highway that connects Forest Grove to main road to the coast.
The climb was a bit of a doozy, but not an issue. Once on the highway, I was flying. I had a tailwind, the road was smooth, and sun was out. I tell you, life was good.
However, the highway back to town was closed.
Huh. Well, I thought, it takes quite a bit of construction to make a road closed to a bicycle. So, I pressed on. It turns out that there was no road to ride on at all. It was dug down to the road's foundation, about 10ft below the road surface. That's the type of closure that would stop a bicycle. Now I was left with a choice. Do I retrace my path, or do I take a road to the left that looks go up and around the closed section? On the GPS, this side road is shown as a dotted line, but where I was standing, it looks good.
I decide to take it, but it wasn't 500ft before I see a sign like this one:
I made it up--with much cursing aimed at my standard road gearing and my recent loss of fitness--and, thankfully, the remainder of the ride was downhill to my house.
But, that was my first taste of gravel since moving and I needed to find more. Next time, though, I'm not taking the road bike. Wheels were turning in my head... on the highway, I passed areas that had been logged recently. It was time to break out the 'cross bike. It was time to search for some local off-pavement routes.