Today I somehow convinced myself (and Jojo) that we could make through from SR 46 north to SR 45 along Scarce o’ Fat Ridge. We’ve ridden the notoriously tough gravel along McGowen Road in February, and I had slogged up Dubois Ridge Road and rode the high ridge along Tulip Trace Trail and Bear Wallow Hill, all rough rides. But I’ve discovered that I can ride for miles on gravel; it is certainly more work and slower traveling, but in the middle of the forest I don’t mind.
I could see from Google Earth that there was gravel all the way to Lanam Ridge Road, from the north it is called Tulip Tree Road, from the south it is Scarce o’ Fat. But it appeared to go through and I could see several trails (not gravel), that intersected the road. Here’s a shot of what I saw on G.E., this is with out the roads layer, so what you see is what you get.
As it was Sunday morning, we decided to ride straight on SR 46 to Belmont, this is the quickest way to get to Brown county. The road is smooth and has a foot or two along the side that allows cars to pass without crossing the yellow center line or knock us over. And Sunday morning is quiet on the highway, so it was a great speedy ride, we stopped but once to view flood Friendship Road
There is a road, I am calling it Scarce o’ Fat, that runs up to the ridge from SR 46 just east of Belmont, and it ends in a parking area at the top of the ridge. From there the road is gravel and grass along the ridgetop, big heavy grave, apparently meant for horses and wheelchairs (yes, the south end of Scarce o’ Fat is Handicap Hunters Area 3). We saw that bikes were banned, and assumed they meant riding them, so we got off and started walking. We knew there could be hikers and horse riders on the trail, and did not want spook the horses or the hikers by riding roughshod through the forest.
But Scare o’ Fat runs 7 miles through deep forest, and it just took a mile or so to realize we were alone, even the birds were quiet at midday, and the forest was ours. We coasted down the inclines, and started pedaling on the flat portions. I doubt we broke 5 mph, the gravel was so bumpy we had to stay slow just to be comfortable. By the time we got to Lanam Ridge Road, we were really happy to see paved road again.
I took some pictures of summer mushrooms, the wet weather has brought them out early, while the forest wildflowers seemed to be gone. We ate some lunch about a third of the way through, then got going again. I think we spent about three hours in the forest, so I think we averaged about 5mph! And it was a tough 5mph, riding the gravel and dirt was quite an effort. We rode the ten miles back to town, and we didn’t even take the Mt. Gilead cutoff, the 200 foot climb just felt like too much after the forest, so we pedaled steadily to town
I got home and showered and slept a little before I could get going again, and the next day I felt like a blackboard that had been erased, and then thoroughly washed down, a blank slate.
I think we have to do this at least once a month, if you don’t push to your limits, you might not find where they are. Even worse, you might not realize that the limits are expandable, all that’s required is the will and courage to do so.