I had a chance to explore the southern 40 section of the route yesterday. I had a good report from Marlboro Mike that Locust Rd was mostly rideable so I went to check it out for myself. The first section (Perry to Reynolds) will be nixed from the route. It was too rough and had too many obstacles: a river runs through it and then sketchy RR tracks.
Picking it up at Reynolds, it was a legit road for a while before turning back to dirt at McGirr. The dirt road was tree-lined. It will be a nice respite from the wind and sun.
This will be a nightmare if it’s wet or raining that day. Well, the whole ride will be a nightmare if it’s rainy or wet. See also: T.I.V6. (in miniature).
I also explored Woodlawn Rd a little further south and enjoyed some change of elevation. In DeKalb, anything can be a change of elevation, but there was an actual hill out there. After 40some miles of gravel, you’ll call it a hill too. You might even use the word “climb”, which is only used locally when you hit the overpass.
Overall, the ride was a good taste of the route. The wind was moderate (15-20mh) and the temp was cool. We can count on a little warmer temp on event day, and we can always count on the wind.
This might be a good time to recommend a cross bike. For your own safety and the safety of the riders around you, I would recommend a tire wider than 28mm. From the growing interest in the ride, I gather that a good number of gravel virgins will be in attendance, and too many Rapha videos might belie the instability of narrow tires on loose gravel (and dirt roads, for that matter). Even with cross tires, there were sections that were sketchy. Consider yourself forewarned. If you don’t have a cross bike, I can tell you where to get one.