500 km on gravel roads on a recumbent bike seemed like a good way to spend a summer weekend. I have ridden most of the paved roads in southern Manitoba and it would be good to see a different side of the province.

A quick look at a map made it clear there was only one good basic route: the combination of CFB Shilo, Spruce Woods park and the Assiniboine river made a route straight east impassable. Sand would make a route around the north of Brandon unsuitable for a bent, so south out of Virden it would be. Using numbered gravel roads is a good idea but to do that adds 20 km. Why can’t we just go straight east? Sloughs that overflow the roads–that’s why, 2 km of water and goose crap on the road was the first fun part. 20 km of freshly graded road came next.

 “Blue stuff on map might be water”
“Blue stuff on map might be water”

Gravel

The roads after Wawanesa  past Glenboro were nice. The sand I expected never showed up. The next questionable section is east of Holland, the Tiger Hills. Bents and I don’t like hills. North out of Holland on hwy 34 got us to a road east that avoided the hills and scored us an open drive in diner in  Trehern.

Sunflowers Corn

 

Off the escarpment down into the flats of the Red River Valley hwy 305 was the logical choice. Some idiot had taken a plow to Crown Valley rd.

It should be a crime to rip up a public road like this
It should be a crime to rip up a public road like this

The Sandilands are the next challenge– not a whole lot of roads, sandy soil and marshes limit the choices, Dawson road out of Richer deteriorates to “trail not maintained travel not advised”, maybe I should have used my fat bike, to how long will it take to walk the next 20 km, the hardest stretch by far. The final 60 km were a Red Bull fueled rush to Falcon lake.

Route http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2892024

Thanks to Hal for offering the Challenge, Ian, Dallas, and David for putting up with me and my bike. Got to mention the road crews that do such an incredible job keeping the gravel roads in unrideable shape.