🚲 Saturday gravel ride: planning failures, challenging paths, and exhaustion

So that was an interesting ride on Saturday. Due to poor time management and lots of rain, I didn’t manage to go for a ride during the week. On Saturday there was heavy rain in the morning but the skies opened up towards the afternoon and Battle Cat and I were itching to go for a ride on wet forest roads. 😄

The ride started on familiar steep trails and forest roads, not surprising but still taxing.

After the first two hundred meters of climbing on sometimes tricky terrain—the WTB Nano 40 tyres had their work cut out of them—I stopped on a meadow for a couple of bites of energy bar and to take some obligatory photos of my bike mid-ride. Obligatory.

I rode past a bunch of young, curious cows who followed me to the place where I had stopped. Two of them were quite insistent to get face scritches and I obliged.
What I didn’t expect, though, was that I had to go over their pasture to continue on my planned route and I expected even less that they’d attempt to join me.

After that things went downhill quickly by going uphill too steeply.
Turns Out™ I had planned this next part of the route badly. For some reason the gradient data Komoot (and Open Street Maps) has for that part of the forest road, is so terribly off that a section where I expected to ride up a ~ 15% gradient—steep but not impossible—was actually a rarely used forestry operation road carved up by heavy machinery and rain with a 25%+ gradient.

Not fun. I pushed or carried my bike uphill for over a kilometre. At the top, which was also the highest point of yesterday’s tour, I was exhausted and panting like a furry dog in the midst of summer. Not good.

The following 10 km compensated me for that slog with beautiful view and incredible riding over everything from flowy double track, challenging single track, even more challenging—for a gravel bike—uphill single track over rocks and roots and finally a long and fast descent towards the Schlossberg on fire roads.

It was my first time at the viewpoint next to the tram on the Schlossberg and I enjoyed seeing the city I now live in from yet another perspective.

Standing there, eating the rest of my energy bar, I had to concede that the climbs at the start of the tour combined with the gruelling ascent pushing the bike robbed me of so much energy, that finishing the ride on the planned route (back through the forest) wasn’t possible and so I rode home on the road … a bit annoyed because chunky gravel tyres make riding on tarmac feel like wading through molasses but I was still happy overall.

Alex Hoffmann @mangochutney