Friday, October 17, 2014

Autumn Splendor

Even though I had a sweet tailwind, I had to stop and enjoy the fall colors.  They are really quite spectacular right now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Filthy 50

The second running of The Filthy 50 took place sunday morning, Oct. 12th. and, from what I experienced, was a smashing success.  The starting line was full of energy and excitement, riders clamoring to buy their "Meat Raffle" tickets, and the weather, chilly, but promising.  Only looking to best my course time from last year's running, I awaited the roll out at the back of the field and near the youngest gravel grinder, a six year old perched on a trail-a-bike, ready to push his dad along the hills of Fillmore County.  Already looking forward to my gravel grind with my child in tow.

Roll out happened without delay and the grinding began shortly.  Teased with a short, northbound stretch, and tailwind, we quickly turned east and realized what we would be up against for the next 30 miles or so.  A blustery wind from the southeast would be slapping us in the face at 10 - 15 mph, sapping the energy from our legs and drawing out the time to warm-up.  The saving grace of the wind was that we were almost assured of a tailwind coming home.

The most spectacular section of this race is preceded by a hair raising, white knuckled, 40 mph decent into the valley of the Middle Branch Root River.   We then turned onto one the most scenic lanes in SE Minnesota which should be ranked high within the most scenic roads in the US, in my humble opinion.

Anyone recognize this rider?  Would love to get you a copy of this shot.

Morgan Road travels over 5 miles from Fillmore County 5 to the small town of Fillmore along the rolling banks of the Middle Branch Root River.  As you undulate along the river bank you succumb to nature and bear witness to the change of season and realize that harmony between man's needs and nature's can coexist.   I hope that I am not alone with these feelings, but this is why I appreciate The Filthy 50.  This spot happens at exactly the right time for me to recharge my mind and spirit, and helped to push me forward.

Morgan road terminates in the quaint town of Fillmore where the first/only offically-unofficial rest stop is located.  I would like to give a special shout-out to Penn Cycle and the Fillmore Free Methodist Church for providing sodas, water, and bathrooms.  Also, thanks for entertaining my toddler while she was waiting to see me and cheer me on.

Leaving Fillmore, the course traveled down another beautiful river valley road.  Nature Road lead us to the climb of the day where you blast (rather, grit your teeth and crawl) out of the river valley back to the wide open spaces of SE Minnesota farmland.  This climb quickly rises 200 feet at an average grade of 6% with a couple of shoulders that, according to strava, top 30%!

Thankfully, on this day, the wind hadn't shifted and my now anaerobic muscles received a welcome push back to Stewartville.  At the finish, the awesome crew from Belch Gear had tapped a keg of cold brew and congratulated all the riders with a full Red Solo cup.  I mention this company, because they weren't out gouge us with expensive ride souvenirs.  Filthy 50 jerseys were only $50 and T-shirts a meager $10, plus, they gave me a free beer.

A bit of bad acting at the finish, nevertheless, after 50, I was Filthy.

I think a great race/ride/event was had by all and, we owe Trenton and the Raygor family a big thanks for all their hard work and dedication to cycling events that are thoroughly enjoyable and free of distraction and pretention.  

My Filthy:

2014 Cue Sheets:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Olmsted County 31

Olmsted Couty 31 heads NE from Olmsted County 3 with almost three miles of continuous gravel to the small town of Oronoco. This road is actually the road you turn on initially to access New Haven Rd and, is easily accessible from the Douglas Trail.   This nicely wooded lane protects you from the wind as you head northward and over a couple of rollers.  The first of which starts about a half mile from County 3.  Named 'lil kicker' on Strava,  it instantly pops at 9% and the levels out to finish at 5-6%.  

The gravel ends near the intersection of Hwy 52, which there is a brand new, well protected crossing.  Althoughthis stretch is paved, there are many more miles of gravel to explore and grind on the East side of Hwy 52.  Happy grinding and see you at the Filthy 50 soon.

Friday, August 8, 2014

New Haven Road

I would rate New Haven Rd as another 'Classic Gravel Grind' in Olmsted County.  This is a great road to link Rochester and Pine Island via gravel grinding.  Access is found just off the Douglas Trail at the intersection of Co Rd 3.  As you round the first bend in the road you are greeted with nice climb that kicks up to almost 8% and rises 150 ft.  From there the road undulates its way to Pine Island crisscrossing the Douglas Trail multiple times.  

Intersection of New Haven Rd and Co Rd 31.

Looking back at Co Rd 3.

This is my first post utilizing Gravelmap.  If you haven't seen this site yet, it is fantastic.  Very easy to use and will be the primary resource for finding Gravel Grinds anywhere and everywhere.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

75th Ave NW

View Larger Map

75th Ave NW is divided in two two sections of which I have deemed one South and the other North with the dividing line being 75th St NW or Olmsted Co Rd 14.  The South section is slightly downhill most of the way and can be a fast escape to gravel from Valleyhigh Dr.  The gravel runs about 1.7 miles and takes you to the intersection of 65th St NW and 80th Ave NW.  From there you can easily get back to Rochester and the Douglas Trail via 65th St NW or descend further down gravel to Genoa via 80th Ave NW.  This section is very exposed to the wind, which can make for a fast grind with a tailwind, just take caution on the 90 degree bend a half mile down the road.  In order to ride 75th Ave NW in its entirety, you must ride on Olmsted Co Rd 14 for about 0.7 mi.

View MN Gravel Grinder in a larger map

The North section starts out with a nice little climb from the tarmac and leads you to a SE Minnesota favorite of Northwoods Orchard.  Unfortunately, they were closed on the day I rode, so I wasn't able to snap a picture of their sign.  Northwoods has a great pumpkin patch in the fall, with a corn maze, hay rides, animals to pet and, of course, hot apple cider and homemade doughnuts.  You can also pick your own apples or purchase bags of apple grown and fresh picked from their orchard.  Their orchard back right up to the Douglas Trail and could serve as a meeting place for those less adventurous.

Just past Northwoods Orchard the climb pops to almost 10% and then you have a nice downhill ride to the intersection of 90th St NW and the Douglas Trail.  Taking the trail north from here is great to stay away from vehicle traffic and to access more miles of gravel to grind.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Filthy 50 2013

Unfortunately, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I was unable to partake in the official "Filthy 50" race in its inaugural year but, I did get out and ride the course last Saturday morning.  We had some incredible weather and which led to spectacular gravel grinding this past weekend.

The course begins just north of the town of Stewartville, MN on 20th St NE.  We were able to park in the Fareway Foods parking lot.  Be sure to stock up here on "fuel" for the ride as there aren't really any options to refuel on the course.  Head east on 20th St NE and in less than a mile you will hit the gravel which is where the cue sheets begin.

The first 20 miles, or so, are wide open and tour around fields of corn and soybean farms.  The road is never flat, however, there are rolling hills abound which all add up to about 3200 feet of climbing for the entire course.  The middle section of the course begins with a mad descent into the valley of the Middle Branch of the Root River.  You will travel upstream and gently uphill for the next 10 miles to the town of Fillmore.  Enjoy this section, the road here is quiet and sheltered, winding its way through one of the most beautiful river valleys you will ever see.  In Fillmore, we were able to refill our bottles from a spigot outside the Fillmore Free Methodist Church.  If you are fortunate, as we were, Pastor Mike will notice you taking the church's water and offer to let you use the church's facilities as well.

Past Fillmore, you will ride along the river for just a few more miles and then abruptly climb out of the valley back to the wide open spaces of southern Minnesota farmland.  This the home stretch and you begin to see Stewartville miles before the finish.  Hopefully you are more fortunate than we were, and have the wind at you back at this point.  We pushed though a 20 mph head wind for the last 10 miles or so which made me wish that I had brought more food to fuel the finish.

This is a spectacular 50 mile route on gravel.  Congratulations to the organizers of The Filthy 50 for linking together this course and congratulations to the finishers of the first ever Filthy 50.  I will look forward to next year.