Coordinator: Mike W
Type of Ride: Backroads Intermediate
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 830m
Anticipated Pace: 15-18km/hr overall, faster on pavement, slower on dirt
Duration: About 5 hours, including stops
We will regroup at intersections. No one will be left behind.
PLEASE ARRIVE 15 MINUTES PRIOR TO START TIME TO GET YOU AND YOUR BIKE READY
This is a 66km backroads loop starting at the intersection of Hwy 762 and 549, about 10km W of Millarville. 29km is on pavement, and 37km is on gravel, dirt, and grass. See https://www.trailforks.com/ridelog/view/2944088/?trailstyle=difficulty for a map of the route.
We head E and S for 16km on mainly gravel roads to the paved Sheep River Road (Hwy 546). We go W (uphill) along the Sheep River Road for 22km to the S end of the Gorge Creek backcountry road in Kananaskis Country. Gorge Creek is a scenic 22km gravel, dirt, and grass road that heads generally N to Hwy 549. About half of the 22km is a gravel road open to motorized vehicles, and half is a dirt/grass track closed to motorized vehicles. It's mainly downhill, but there is a 2.5km 12% grade uphill section with a short bit that's up to 20% grade. We then follow Hwy 549 on gravel and pavement back to our start point.
This ride is suitable for a bike with tires that are at least 38mm / 1.5" wide, and a tread pattern designed for gravel and dirt. Large lugged mountain bike tires are fine, but not required. The gearing should be set up for steep grades up to 20%, or simply walk that section. Front suspension is helpful but not required. The ideal bike would be a "gravel bike", but a mountain bike, cyclocross bike, or a touring bike with suitable tires and gearing would be fine as well.
It may be necessary to walk the bikes through some very steep or wet sections, so you should wear appropriate footwear. In case of bike failure that can't be repaired in the field, you're looking at up to a 5km walk to a point that is accessible by car. Road cycling shoes with exposed cleats are entirely unsuitable.
There are no facilities along the entire route. Much of it will be out of mobile phone range. The Gorge Creek Road section is remote and it's unlikely we'll encounter other people along the way. Accordingly, participants should ensure their bikes are in excellent condition and bring along more drink, food, clothing, safety, repair, and first aid gear than they would normally bring on a road ride. This includes bear spray. We will stay together as a group for the Gorge Creek Road section of the ride.