Gravel and Dust


Ah yes, back to the Northeast, where it was 39 this morning…

The summer’s here are short, and the locals have labelled this one as the worst ever. A rainy spring, a rainy summer, and now an August that never really warmed up like expected. The south has had a radical departure from normal as well. It’s traditionally a welcome change to escape the oppressive southern heat, for the cooler and dryer air of upstate NY, but this year, August has been wet and quite mild. Many day’s were in the mid-80’s and the 100 degree days never materialized.

I’ve started every ride here with armwarmers. They get pulled down after the hills warm me up, but have been pulled back up on many of the descents. I’ve used this trip to explore more of the gravel roads that I’d recon’ed on my June trip, and have found them to be partially submerged in many spots, where marshes have spilled over their banks. These rides get remote quickly, as many are centuries old and are used rarely outside of winter, when they become part of a vast snowmobile trail network that connects many of the rural communities in a way that is much faster than driving. This snowmobile trail network also means that many of these roads have signage, with major intersections listing the distance to destinations in each direction. Most of these roads, are legally county roads or local village roads, meaning that they are governed by the same rules of the road that normal thoroughfares are. This distinction leads to them being mostly free from ATV traffic, but the momentum is building for local municipalities to review these laws and petition county seats for permission to allow them. Lewis County is one such area that has embraced opening up some roads and trails to the ATV crowd, allowing access to a normally dormant trail system in the summer. I’ve had no issues with ATV’ers, they’ve allowed plenty of room when passing and the dust they kick up is no more than a traditional vehicle. I’d assume that a very large group would bring on helluva dust cloud with them, but I’ve yet to be in that situation.

 

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