Also check out:
Frederick County, Maryland Routes
Though the Gravel roads are spread out or in clumps, the roads are awesome. Most of the gravel that is in and around the Frederick Municipal Forest and on Catoctin Mountain involves climbing. Gravel roads south of Frederick (city) are more rolling. The quality of roads are good condition. The location of roads in the south allows you to connect with gravel roads in Montgomery County, Maryland and Loudoun County, Virginia. The roads east of Frederick (city) are few but they can connect of with the gravel roads in Carroll County, Maryland. If you are wanting longer loops you will have to include pavement.
31 Miler ( http://ridewithgps.com/routes/1553740 ) This short route may hurt a bit while building your climbing legs up but it won't kill you. It was designed to have some nice climbs in a short distance. As a byproduct there are some screaming downhills. It starts from the Mountain Biker parking lot on Hamburg Rd ( http://goo.gl/maps/MEDIW ). It will take you on some nice gravel roads in the Frederick Municipal Forest (Watershed). Then down the west side of Catoctin Mountain before heading back up to the Forest. There are approximately 18 miles of gravel roads. Approximately 58% gravel and 42% pavement with about 3600ft of climbing.
53 Miler ( http://ridewithgps.com/routes/844729 ) This one will hurt. It is a modify 1903 route dreamed up by the famous Singlespeed Outlaw himself. I put my touches on it to add some pain (plus use the roads I like). With over 6200 feet of climbing it should not be taken lightly. This one starts at the Hamburg rd MTB parking lot ( http://goo.gl/maps/MEDIW ). Drops down Hamburg rd then over to Mountaindale to begin the climbing. It takes some similar roads as the 31 miler I posted but then kicks it up after it deviates from the 31 miler. More pavement on this then gravel but hey this is Frederick, you come here to climb.
Sugarloaf 60 Miler ( http://ridewithgps.com/routes/1558196 ) This route starts at Sugarloaf Mountain (Stronghold) parking lot ( http://goo.gl/maps/2SSeL ). It hits the gravel roads around Sugarloaf Mountain plus the roads around Jefferson, Maryland. The route runs south and west of Frederick city. There is approximately 5000 feet of climbing on this route. The climb up to Braddock Heights is a little tough but won't kill you. Since the Gravel is in clumps on this route. There is long stretches of pavement in between.Water Stops are at miles 12 in Adamstown, 26 in Jefferson, 38 in Braddock Heights and 50 at Buckystown.
Montgomery County/Frederick County Routes
56 Miler ( http://ridewithgps.com/routes/1552753 ). This nice route starts in Germantown at the Soccerplex. It will take you out to Sugarloaf Mountain then to the C & O Canal. A little more pavement then gravel on this one. It does have long stretches of gravel mixed in with 2 sections of riding on the Canal Towpath (which is technically a gravel road). It rolls through some pretty country before ending back at the Soccerplex. There is approximately 25.1 miles of gravel roads/towpath on this route with 3000feet of climbing. That is approximately 45% Gravel/Towpath and 55% pavement (boo!).
51 Miler ( http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2233607 ) Here is another MoCo/Frederick route. This one starts in Boyds, Maryland at the bridge of Little Seneca Lake on Rte 121/ Clarksburg rd. ( http://goo.gl/maps/Gb3fX ). This one takes you around Sugarloaf Mountain then north towards Little Bennett Reg. Park. Although the majority of this route is paved. There are some nice gravel roads on this one. West Harris (pictured above) is a classic. This route will take you from the edge of Suburbia into the MoCo agriculture reserve and back. There is approximately 4150ft of climbing. Water stop is at mile 41. There is a water fountain at the main parking lot for Sugarloaf mountain.
Also (not gravel, but local):
ie.) The Rando Ramble: Long Distance Biking in and out of Baltimore
• The Ride: a 92 mile roundtrip single day bike ride from Baltimore to Washington, DC
• Date/Time: Sunday, May 5th, 2013. Meet Up at 7:45AM. Push Off at 8:10AM (prompt)
• Start: Baltimore Washington Monument
• Costs: None. Bring cash for lunch and snacks. We will stop to re-group every 25 miles.
• Cue sheet: http://tinyurl.com/d9eyuby
• Map/GPS: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2429638
Also, a great flat one (rails to trails) to do with the kids: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/greenways/ncrt_trail.html
I was going to add the 1903 ride but it is covered in the 53 miler. Thank you for the posts, I have some roads to explore.
In my consideration of gravel grinder frames that may be better that a cross bike; I have been looking at used Niner MCR and SIR frames; but haven't found any great deals (on an XL size) to get the project within my budget http://www.ninerbikes.com/sir9 . I also have the Airborne Goblin (or the Guardian) in the back of my mind as a budget choice http://www.airbornebicycles.com/category/55-cross-country-xc.aspx - I would likely swap the fork to rigid carbon - so I need to add another $400 or so to the cost.
I think that a geared Reynolds 853 steel frame with a Niner (or Whiskey) rigid carbon fork would do well for the endurance events I am looking at especially Iron Cross in September: http://ironcrossrace.blogspot.com/
The race looks like almost 50% fire roads, so I am thinking that a rigid setup with vertical flex and big rubber (tubeless 2.4") would be fine.
I went ahead and ordered the On One Scandal 29er frame. Michael at Planet X ( titusti.com ) was great with customer service and answering questions; I highly recommend these folks.