Jim and I did some early morning recon yesterday for the annual Rawland Gravel Tour. Jim has put together a superb route for us this year. We'll hit all of the favorite haunts of the Rawland crew, while adding about 20 miles of really great roads and some new stuff in between. After hearty breakfast at The Tavern, (best $4 breakfast in Northfield,) we headed for Dennison in the rally Jetta.
The morning was a stunning one. It wasn't yet 50 deg when we left the smell of Blue Monday coffee and downtown. The sun was just starting to rise over fog blanketed rolling fields. Trees poked out of high stops in waves. Without much in the way of perspective, they might as well have been mountains sticking through.
The car seemingly floated between layers of fog as we past through Dennison. Just outside of town we started in on the dirt. Almost immediately it was apparent just how dry it's been here lately. Flying along at all of 45, the Volkswagen kicked up a steady stream of dust that gravel riders know far too well. Despite the dry conditions, the roads for the most part are in really amazing shape. Most of them have very little rutting and are quite smooth. A few have some pretty loose gravel, which presented a few interesting turns and descents! The car only slid a little bit a few times, but Jim was sure that I had it under control. I slowed down a bit after that.
In total the course as it sits is a little over 60 miles, right about 100k. We plan to pre-ride the course, but I think that even with the added mileage it will be more ride able than last year. A lot of the brutal hills are a bit more spread out, and there are pretty good rest stretches between them. The ride also has mostly flat warm up and cool down lengths coming into an out of town.
Here's the GPs plots to get an idea of ride route. No details yet until we finalize it. Only one section of about 1.5 miles is ridden twice. It's also about the only tar on the route. There's some other, but that's nigh impossible to get around.
Topo elevation. About 3300 ft total, nice and rolly for the most part.
The whole morning looked like this. What a way to start the day.
That flag is part of a self made golf hole. We saw 3 or 4 farms that had something like this, very cool. Note the nice smooth gravel, even for the inside of a corner.
More scenery and smooth road.
One of the many stream crossings.
Filtered light on my favorite road, Shady Lane Trail. Appropriate name huh?
It's bigger than it looks.
Not quite to the top.
The top is just around the left here. A killer hill, and one of the most beautiful roads in Goodhue County I think.
More water coming down off of the bluff.
Here's one of the widest roads on the route. This series of hills continues growing in intensity for a long bit. It will be on of the more challenging sections of the ride.
We are planning on hosting this ride either the third or fourth weekend in October, on whichever Sunday. I will update you as soon as Tuesday on the confirmed date. All are welcome, camping is available at Nerstrand State Park. This is a no drop, recreational, easy paced tour. We will be providing some sort of a food stop at a yet undetermined part of the ride, but it will be primarily self supported. If you have any questions, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great holiday weekend.