On most weekends I try to ride for four hours or more, anywhere from 30-50 miles is great, but during the week, I sometimes want to ride after work, and so 15-20 miles is just about right.
For many years my favorite short loop rides have been Kerr Creek-Mt Gilead and Stipp-Schwartz Ridge (named for the hills on the route). But since I have learned that my bike can handle gravel roads with no problem, I decided to find a new route, and here it is:
Starting at Lampkins Ridge and 446 (which is about 4.75 miles from Sample Gates), the loop goes down Knights Ridge to Gross Road, which runs along a ridge and into the forest. The last mile is gravel and drops into the Salt Creek valley ending at Friendship Rd. It’s then a short ride north to Lampkins Ridge Road, which climbs about 250 feet over 3.8 miles, but only the beginning is really steep. The loop is 9.4 miles, and with the ride from home and back, it is just under 20 miles.
There are a couple of ways to get to SR 446, I used Covenanter on the way out, and the Polly Grimshaw trail on the way back. They are about the same distance, but the trail feels safer on the way back after dark.
The sun was still up as I rode along Knight’s Ridge Rd, and the sky was blue. But as I turned onto Gross Road, the sun was setting, and the shadows were lenthening. Gross Road is narrow but well paved until it turns to gravel as it enters the uninhabited forest. I stopped in the forest to have a drink and listen to the birds and look for mushrooms.
After about 5 minutes, the only car I had seen so far came to a stop and asked if I was heading into the forest on my bike, I had pulled it about 20 feet off the road. I said no, I was heading down to the valley. He said ok, and left, but I realized he was going to warn me about hunting season, and there are people with deadly intent all over the state forest land. I am not so afraid of the bow hunters, they all seem sober, and have to get pretty close to shoot. But it is now firearms season, and I’ve already run into several drunk guys with guns looking for deer. The firearms season for deer runs November 15-30, although muzzleloaders are allowed through December 21. I plan on staying on the roads till next year, that’s for sure. The bowhunters are there only in October and December, so by January the woods are quiet once again.
Salt Creek runs next to Friendship Road, and as I walked down to the banks, I heard a loud mechanical sound. I supposed that it was the farmer on the other side of the creek running his combine, but as I got closer, I saw that was not so. A large tractor was backed up to the creek, and was running a pump to bring water up over the levee and into the fields. Later in the week I noticed the whole field was flooded, and I realized the DNR had done this to fill one of the lagoons that had dried up in the recent dry spell. I’ve ridden on the dikes farther south during the dry season, but I did not know the ponds were filled this far north.
I started up the Lampkins Ridge hill, and was just near the end of the first steep climb when my chain broke. I didn’t have a link tool with me (I do now!), and it was dark anyhow. I figured I could walk the bike and coast the downhills, and was about a mile into a 8 mile trek when a van stopped to see how I was doing, this was only the second car that had passed me since I turned onto Gross Rd. The driver was Michael Glasgow, who is a mechanic for DeCycles and a rider himself. He put my bike onto his roof rack, then he took me home, what good luck! Thanks to Michael, and to all those who recognize someone in need and are happy to help.
I took the same route late Saturday, and made it the whole way with no problem. When I got to Friendship Road and took a right to the south, it was still light, but within half a mile I found a hunter’s camp along the roadside. The woodsmoke smelled good in the cool evening air, but I decided not to drop in on them, and headed back to Lampkin’s Ridge and home. All in all I like this ride, 5 miles to the woods, then 10 through the back country, and 5 back home, not bad.