3 State Forests

My plan was to meet up with those gathering at EHP at 9am to head to Virgil to watch part of the Hollenbeck’s Spring Classic, though I got there just a few minutes after a small group had departed. Not knowing which route they choose, I rode in the drops with good effort in the direction of Freese Rd / Lower Creek Rd assuming there was a good chance they went that way, but they were never within sight. I had a route planned out with a few roads a bit further out, so I continued on that route to Virgil. Between routes 13 and 215 was some great rolling hills, so I’m glad I went that way (See the link to the map).

I watched the Cat-1/2/3s go by on the first lap from the cider mill, and then headed up Van Donsel Rd to the finish line where most of the racers that were competing for one lap would soon be finishing. One group made the turn uphill and was quickly approaching, so I stood to the side and watched them power up the hill. I rode up after them, and got a laugh when a few people cheered me on (not sure if they realized I wasn’t racing…). This was just the warm up though before the adventure into the forests.

I continued up Van Donsel Rd, and then followed it across the forest before turning and taking Courtney Hill Rd back up. One thing I love about the forest roads is that the surface is never the same between roads. From smooth packed dirt, to flat and rocky, to gravel, and sometimes pools of mud, the variety keeps it interesting. If you like long descents and climbs, this is the spot to go. These two roads are my new favorites, especially coming back up the hill. When I got back to a main road, I saw two people riding the Virgil loop and tried to catch up but they turned off my route before I could get there. I think this must have been part of the FLCC ride of the Hollenbeck’s loop after the race.

I felt great after the 25 mile warm up into Virgil, but now just 20 miles later I felt drained. I paced myself up Owego Hill (another great dirt road) and found myself in the middle of nowhere. Through the western section of the Kennedy Forest, I aimed for a dirt trail, which I’ll say in short was not a place to be riding, so I cut through to another forest road to get to Harford on Rt38. I was on Creamery Rd for the second time, now on a better suited bike than the first time when an FLCC ride went in the other direction on this hill with nearly everyone on skinny tires. After a screaming decent on a paved but gritty road, I ended up in front of the Goodrich Hill wall, which might be the steepest road I’ve been on, apparently reaching an 18% grade. I recognized another Finger Lakes Trail crossing as I left the Potato Hill state forest.

Now in the northern short segments of Shindagin, I had to pace myself going up Leonard Rd, which took a good effort to climb since it was a bit washed out and larger gravel most of the way. I was feeling nearly dead after enough climbing, and took it easy from here home. I held on tight coming down Bald Hill into Brooktondale, and stuck to some better known roads to get home.

After riding enough paved roads in the past few years to reach my miles to the 5th digit, it’s been a great season for seeking out the dirt roads I had never seen before. I keep considering rides like D2R2, but after riding forest roads all day within cycling distance from home, I might just stick to those. There’s more than enough for keep me riding new routes every time. My road bike has only seen 9 miles on it so far this year, and it looks like it might stay that way with the rain expected this week. Total miles for the day was just under 80, mostly on dirt roads between Virgil and Brooktondale. You can see the route online here: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/391915.

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