I recently embarked on a journey down the rabbit hole of GPS bicycle computer technology. I was born at the very tail end of what’s considered the baby boomer generation so I recently started to qualify for senior citizen discounts. I was curious to see if this old dog could learn to use one of those new-fangled GPS bike computers, so I asked a few folks which one was the easiest to learn to use. The resounding answer was Wahoo!
Enter the Wahoo Elemnt Roam. The Roam has a nice large screen and a simple to use interface to a number of mapping/riding apps that I’d already started to use like MTB Project and Ride with GPS for gravel races, invitational rides, and mountain bike trails. The Roam came out of the box and went onto the bike and I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks.
I’ve always quipped that measuring miles, average speed and elevation gained are really superfluous to the amount of fun that any ride experience had to offer. I challenged my friends that posted their ride stats to explain the amount of fun that they had experienced instead of the measuring their rides in miles, feet climbed and time spent in the saddle to no avail. Then I started to delve into route-finding and started to use apps on my smart-phone to find my way around. I believe that this was the slippery slope that has led me to where we are today. (no pun intended)
Late last month at a small pagan bike gathering called #spacegnomes I came up with the idea of riding from Millston, WI to Levis Mound on gravel roads. I quizzed local trail shaman, Steve Muerette about the route and he told us that the Black River State Forest was prime for omni-terrain bikepacking. Steve has been involved with the reintroduction of Elk to Wisconsin and he shared that he was very familiar with the area that we’d traverse because of his work monitoring the transplanted elk herd. So I started looking at maps and checked out https://gravelmap.com/ and there was nothing that showed me which roads were gravel. So I turned to Steve and mi hermano de otras mamacitas, Adam Blake to see if they could help ID the best roads through the State Forest.
I ended up using the Map my Ride app to create a 30-mile route based on my best guess of what looked like the most rustic twisty roads from the satellite views on my computer. I saved that route as a gpx file and loaded it onto the Roam using the Elemnt Companion app on my iPhone. Last week, I went up to scout the route and what I found along the way was so good, that I had to go back!
Just a couple days ago, I met Bike Black Ribbon Test Pilot, JP up at the Levis Trail Center and we shuttled down to Millston to ride the route that I’d created with the help of Adam and Steve. (feel free to sing along) We were Day Trippers! One way ticket YEAH!
I’d planned to do the route as an overnight backpack with a bivvy atop the mound at the Clarence overlook, but the weather and schedules forced us to improvise the mission plan and that’s when the Beatles song got stuck in my head. (you’re welcome)
JP rode his REEB’badonkadonk with a set of carbon 27.5 plus wheels and I rode the 29+ Trek 1120 adventure bike that I’ve been testing, rigged for day tripp’n.
I mentioned that we shuttled the trip, because of the weather. It rained about an inch the night before the ride, which made some of the sandy roads really mushy. We both started out with about 15 psi in our tires but as soon as we hit the soft stuff, we stopped and aired down to about 12 psi.
The day was forecast to be hot and swampy, so we both started with four water bottles.
My favorite part of the route is just after the first gate in the area that transplanted Elk are held and then released into the State Forest. I’d seen this spot on the local news reports about the Elk program so we had to stop and take a picture postcard to send to y’all.
The route goes around and between several bodies of water designated as flowages. In October these ares will be full of waterfowl hunters, so if you plan to follow this route, be mindful of hunting season. This area is gorgeous and we plan to come back to do an overnight some time.
Once we left the flowages we rode a little pavement up to Hwy 54 and then back onto delicious gravel roads.
Somewhere around the 20-mile mark, we started to see dozens of these little cuties. We rode by several varmint condos. This one (below) had to be a foot and a half in diameter!
The route switched over to an ATV trail and the conditions turned pretty sloppy.
JP had a lot to say about his Paul Klamper Brakes. None of which can be repeated due to the profane nature of his rantings. I personally blame gnomes.
We hit a huge ATV trail intersection at the Hatfield/Pray Junction and we knew that a cold beer was waiting at the Mug in Hatfield, so we were all giddyup to Hatfield.
From Hatfield we beelined a few miles of pavement north back to the Levis. We finished the day with a swim and steak dinner!
So it turns out that an old dog can learn new tech and use that new tech to find ways to enhance the level of fun in their everyday cycling fetish lifestyle! Yeah….there, I said it…my Wahoo helped create an enhanced level of fun and I’m pretty sure that it’s just getting started! I’ll have a full review of the Wahoo Elemnt Roam somewhere down the trail amigos!
For more information about Wahoo visit – https://www.wahoofitness.com/