Even as I become aged, it is good that I can still learn a few things and today's ride provided quite the knowledge enhancer. 1) Just because a "road" has no road marking, is very narrow and nothing but stones and gravel, does not mean you are not taking that road. 2) Guys who are 200+ pounds can ride on gravel roads because the weight of the person and bike plows a furrow through the debris while the pencil-necked lightweights bounce around like in a pinball machine. We turned off Blue Jay at Unpleasant Chapel road, crossing Flint Ridge out to Fairview, then Ballou and back to Flint, south on Cooks Hill road to 40, stopping at the store in Brownsville. One thing about these obscure stores, they always seem to be staffed by the nicest people. Back on the bikes we jumped and headed south on 668, crossing 204 and going all the way to Cooperriders where we made a left. This part of the route was new to me and a great stretch of road that included a right turn on Amish Ridge. Soon after passing an Amish buggy, we came around a turn and there I noticed a gravel road with no sign, really looked like someone's driveway or a seldom used alley. We kept going until Adele announced her Garmin was indicating we had missed our turn. "No way" most of us exclaimed but sure enough, down the alley we plunged, which was not too bad until a steepish section caused some of us, who lack some bike handling skill, to get off and walk. We got onto 22 and soon made a left at Wesley Chapel and in time, cruised into Fultonham where we got off the route to coast down a long hill to a store where we refueled.
Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away, Da Boss, Marty and John had gotten ahead of the others after getting through the first gravel section. In one of the sections, Pete had 2 flats so that slowed him down and I think John had one as well. The lead three missed a turn and that allowed some regrouping but again, Boss, Marty and John pulled away and had a spirited return to Granville.
Recharged, we plodded back up the hill and made a right at Cemetery and then a right at Workman. A series of turns revealed combinations of paved and unpaved roads having the names "Lower Kraft", "Bagley", a nice extended session on a different Wesley Chapel before finally reaching Coopermill road. Here something curious was noticed. The route had us making a left on Black road to get us out to 40 but Black appeared to be another gravel surface. About 100 feet away was Morgan road and from past experience, I knew it to be paved and would also get us out to 40. It didn't require much persuasion to convince the group to take Morgan and so we did, eventually getting back on the route at Hopewell by going north. We were on Mt. Olive and then a long stretch on the unpaved portion of Flint Ridge road. As fatigue from stone bouncing began sitting in, I began having irrational thoughts that included the suspicion that John G had intentionally put some of these gravel roads into the route to add some variety....what a guy. We paused at the intersection of Flint Ridge and Gratiot roads, each of which was unpaved. Then, about a mile later we paused at the intersection of Flint Ridge and Gratiot roads, this time each of them paved. Weird.
We rolled into Flint Ridge park for water and there was some discussion about an alternative route that would avoid a return on Blue Jay but I needed the climbing and miles so I stayed on the route, yes taking Blue Jay until Beal where I made a right and followed the route back to Granville. Finished with 84 miles, 6400' of climbing and a need for new cycling shoe cleats. Put in an appearance at the Sunday Granville ride with Marty, Dave C, Tym T, Kent R and a small group of tri types. Most of us abandoned the route after reaching Utica and returned to Granville with less than 40 miles.