The Map (Epic fail version, with all my wrong turns included)
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Goal = Find a nice gravel road option that connects Shellburg Falls and Silver Creek Falls; Result = Feel like a criminal and admit defeat early
Shellburg Falls is what I’d consider my major mountain biking stomping grounds. It’s close to my house, it’s beautiful, and it has a nice variety of multi-use trails, singletrack, doubletrack, and gravel roads. Perhaps it’s because Shellburg feel like home that I assume the trails will treat me like an old friend instead of with the cold indifference all inanimate objects tend to treat living things. Today I remembered that the trails around Shellburg Falls are in fact inanimate objects.
Mistake #1: I guess my biggest mistake was assuming I could create a route based on old logging roads that would actually be accurate. Turns out half the roads I tried simply ended, despite the GPS assuring me there was still road ahead.
Mistake #2: About 8 miles into my ride my GPS told me to turn onto what was clearly private land, as the sign brazenly declared what would happen to anyone violating the rules. What I didn’t read until I was back at the entrance to the logging road was that bicyclists actually could use the logging roads during the day, so instead of leisurely strolling up and down the logging roads, I tensely raced my way down various options that looked promising, and gave up and turned around faster than I probably would have had I known the road was indeed open to me.
Mistake #3: Believing the weather report. In addition to feeling tense about my ‘criminal activity’ on private land, I kept waiting for the inevitable downpour I expected based on the weather report, which also aided in my earlier than planned turn-around.
What I Learned
Alongside learning to actually read signs, I did learn that there are likely some gravel road options that weave their way over to Silver Creek Falls, one in particular that looked promising but which I decided to leave for another time due to my worry about the private land and the potential for a downpour.
I also learned that impromptu gravel rides are a ton of fun, and that doing them solo can be just as rewarding as doing them alongside a companion, as long as you can stand your own company, which I can. I’ll probably make another attempt at the Silver Creek Falls gravel connector relatively soon, and if it works, my map may actually be beneficial to someone.