Finger Lakes National Forest

This is now my second weekend of seeking out more dirt roads, and exploring roads that I haven’t ridden yet. This time I headed west, to the Finger Lakes National Forest. The approach after the first few miles heading up the hill was nearly all new roads to me, heading to the northern end of the forest. Of interest was a stretch of road that was completely surrounded by old abandoned cars. It looks as if a car repair shop from the 1950s suddenly went out of business and left 300 cars in the grass to rust out.

It was along Stillwell Rd (where I’ve been before to U-Pick strawberries), that I noticed a shortcut to my route. An old road, with just one abandoned house started my dirt section of the day. As I headed south through the forest, the road ends and the Backbone Trail begins. It was probably an old logging road, which now is used by horses, mountain bikers, and skiers. The trail was generally damp, but firm enough to ride on with 32/35mm tires. There was one stream crossing about 10ft wide that I just barely made across before having to put a foot down. Maybe some actual mountain biking in warmer weather will train me better for these.

Back on the roads, I made a wrong turn as I passed an intersection and a large growling dog started chasing. I realized the wrong turn and cautiously made my way back without the dog chasing a second time. At this point, there were some strong gusts of wind that were very loud in the trees which probably helped me not to be noticed. Chicken Coop Rd was signed as a seasonal road, but was one of the better maintained ones I have ridden on. There were several flat areas that looked like rest stops for snowmobilers, with fire rings and camping potential.

There is a three mile stretch of dirt road on a speedy decent that followed, which I took very slowly the previous time I rode on it. But that was on a race bike with 23mm tires, and today I had the right bike for the conditions to confidently go fast. The joy of the decent soon ended with climbing up Rt79 and Newtown Rd. This section crosses through the Texas Hollow State Forest, which is another that I haven’t explored much yet. The road ends above Odessa, with a good view out, and I continued around the bend to head back north to the Finger Lakes forest.

It was along Upper Foots Rd. that my ride suddenly came to an end. The rear wheel had locked up and skidded while climbing up a gentle hill. I’m not exactly sure of the cause, but the chain is snapped at the quick link, the derailleur got pulled in and then snapped apart, and the chain got pulled along while bending spokes. I tried to shorten the chain and ride the bike as a single speed, but without a proper way to tension the chain, it wouldn’t stay in a reasonable gear. I called Kathy and soon after she arrived, just as it was beginning to snow and get very windy again.

I do hope to come back and finish this route soon, especially within the national forest, since those were some of the better maintained dirt roads mixed with some trails in the woods. My focus is on creating routes that include as much riding as possible on roads and trails that I haven’t been on before, since most of the group rides stick to the time-tested routes but I’ve been on many of those roads several times now, so I always enjoy a new road.

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