Ride Report: Franklin County Foothills

Somehow I managed to get off work early and to my house by 2pm. I'd explored in my truck and by satellite imagery some far roads out west and today was the day to ride the loop I christened the Franklin County Foothills. This 37 mile ride packed 2,700+ feet of climbing and on the cross bike I was determined to get worked over.

Intersection of Fiddle Creek at Highway T

Fiddle Creek awesomeness

Mission accomplished. After two previous days of riding (see below posts), this is the one that snapped by legs off after the 33rd mile. This ride is 90% pavement, however, a key connector road is gravel and over 2 miles long so skinny tires are not recommended! Grand Army Road is currently gravel but it looks like Franklin county is widening and shoring it up in preparation of its initial chip-n-seal coating probably sometime this year.

Starting from my house on the Allenton Loop I rode over to Fox Creek, up Old Manchester to Little Tavern and then tackled Highway T.

Definitely a century home on Fiddle Creek - looked to be
lifted right out of old St. Louis

Grand Army signage. Being the only gravel road on
this 37 mile route I assume it lost out in the paving wars of 1973

Note to other riders: Highway T, the two lane road that goes past St. Albans country club is not for the faint of heart. I know roadies say riding T is no big deal but I have to say it kept me on edge the brief times I was on it. The climbs are heinous and force you to sprint up them before a car rolls up (over) you on a blind curve. The fact that a guy in a Prius coming in the opposite direction rolled his window down and blew out his eyeballs screaming 'get off the road' did not add to my afternoon delight.

Once off of Highway T and on Fiddle Creek Road the country life rolled back by my side. The low use road followed meandering fields and past century homes. This road will connect you to Grand Army that heads into the sky right out of the gate. The gravel road is in excellent shape and you could almost imagine riding a road bike on it but it's too remote for me to have a double flat an hour before sunset.

Attention! You scoundrels are going to earn your legs or
fall in the ditch trying. I got some rear scratch on this climb.

More twists on Grand Army

Grand Army turns to pavement at the intersection of Thiebes and continues back to Highway T. At the peak height on Grand Army you can see the Labadie power plant and the cliffs across the Missouri that are, in fact, part of Klondike Park. If only bicyclists could get across the river at Highway 40 or the Washington bridge the riding options would be virtually limitless.

Grand Army looks to be getting groomed by the road
crew types for a possible ungravelling sometime in 2012.
Or they are just making it buff and wider, hard to determine.

Grand Army gets old chip at Thiebes

Back on Highway T and doing my own version of Gold Sprints I checked left onto Decker road very near the town of Labadie. This road took me past some sketchier looking homes and a few chained dogs that wanted so badly to drag me into the ditch. Decker ends at Highway 100 in Gray Summit. Wanting to keep my skin, I bolted down 100 after the last car went by and turned left 500 feet down the road at Hogan. This road follows Highway 44 all the way back to Pacific.

You're looking at one of the top polluters in Missouri.
But... you wouldn't be reading this either (no electric for me)
so I don't know what to say other than solar fields someday?

Another clearer view of the Labadie power plant.
You can see Klondike Park in the distance.
Oh, to be so close yet so far
away from St. Charles county trails! 

From Pacific, I simply followed Old Route 66 back to my house. Whew! The ride opened my eyes to even more possibilities. I'm currently building a low-use route (as much as possible) from my house to St. Clair and it's clocking in around 37 miles one way. This route definitely has gravel stretches so I suppose the cross bike will need to be ready for some action again.

Welcome to Labadie, Missouri. This is taken from Decker Road.

BONUS: GPS Track starting from Greensfelder parking lot (32 miles - slightly shorter route)
You will need to go to gpsies.com/convert.do to convert the gpx track to a .crs course file for your garmin device.


Casey Ryback said...

Dude, that looks like some killer extra loopage! It would be a LONG ride for me to get out there from Hampton Road, but I'll have to remember that as a ride to make a day out of. Maybe stop for food in Gray Summit or Labadie...

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