Rides We Like: Two Gravel Roads
(2016) If Italy has the Strade Bianche, what would Bucks County's equivalent be considering the area sits atop red shale? Would the ride passing through these parts be then called the Rosso Bianche? Perhaps if the unpaved roads gave off a reddish hue when wet it would be a definite. However, that doesn’t happen around here.
When I say ‘we,’ assume again the trusty ride sidekick (ridekick) Mike was along for the nearly forty-mile experience. He resorted to his Belgie jersey yet again, although I think he would regret the decision amidst the first of two scheduled unpaved roads. We were searching for sectors of the Fools Classic route, an event that purposely seeks unpaved Bucks County roads.
We crossed Easton Road and picked a line over the cratered bridge that crossed the Tohickon Creek. The turn up Gruver Road/ Oak Grove Road gave solidified suspicions that the melting snow made for wet roads. I believe in horse racing this would be described as a sloppy track. The gravel surface showed dark gray under the morning sun and black in the shade. There was no place to put the bike that wasn’t saturated. Mike’s shiny white kit was immediately muddied. For the first time on this road, two cars caused us to carefully ride the gutters. Two bike tire indentations in the surface gave a hint that riders had already passed through these parts. They might be muddy roads, but they’re peaceful and typically free of traffic. It’s a fair trade off.
Freshly onto paved roads the sun began to warm us. It was a tricky day to dress considering the marginally warmer temperatures and the droning wind. Mike seemed to freeze in the first few miles but warm up. I was warm and then felt overdressed. We had pushed the ride back on account of letting some of the residual piles of snow melt into puddles. Luckily there would be little ice within our miles.
We made our way to the second scheduled gravel road from the Fools Classic, Fink Road. This road is quite cycling- centered considering at its end is the Nockamixon Mountain Bike Trail network. No doubt we would parallel some mountain bikers on this road. The gravel itself demanded quick thinking with hidden potholes blending in with the dark saturated surface. For the second time there were no lanes to select that were dry. Within view of the mountain bike parking lot we wound up riding alongside a lone mountain biker. Two ends of the industry paralleling for a few feet.
Instead of crossing Easton Road for a third time we decided to ride up to Lake Nockamixon. Quarry Road’s unpaved section begged us to have a go, but it would have to wait for another time. It’s a treacherous hollow with large stones we did not want to test. Instead we headed north. Accessing route 563 is a great way to increase the average speed of a ride with its wide shoulders. We also then nixed Kinzler Road, another unpaved portion never attempted. We had found a rhythm along the northern portion of the Lake and we would stick with it.
We meandered around Perkasie all the while making our way back to the starting point. Both of us managed to return in about two hours. We had accomplished our goal of visiting some portions of the upcoming Fools Classic. Riding around Bucks County is a great way to spend a mid-day Sunday; Riding the Fools course is even better. It’s those portions one can find just the right amount of solitude Bucks County has to offer. Just make sure to snap on the Ass Saver to give the laundry a chance. That way the mud roads can be attacked a little harder.