Sunday, May 12, 2013

3GR Report: The Good And The Bad About Wind

The Shadow Of The Gravel Buddha
Wind: That was the operative word coming into Saturday's 3GR. That and a new starting venue. The water was still over much of the trails leading out of Cedar Falls, so I had planned on leaving from Gates Park in Waterloo instead, which has a great exit to gravel a about 3/4's of a mile away.

Trouble is, there was wind, (lot's of it), and I moved the starting point. You never know who will just decide it isn't worth hitting up the ride for that, so going in, I had a hunch I would be alone on this one. Going over, I was getting blasted by gusts of wind that would nearly stop me, and also getting a good sand blasting here and there to boot. My thoughts were that "this ride is going to suck!", but I got over to the Gates swimming pool parking lot anyway by 8:20am.

It was a big, lonely, windy spot, and as time ticked away, I just thought more and more that this would be a solo attempt. Then I heard that crazy sound I thought I heard coming over. Like a kid playing a recorder that didn't know how to play correctly.This tonal whistling. While I was waiting, I decided I may as well see what it might be. My ears led me to the area of the front hub.

Turns out it was the vent holes in the Black Mountain Cycles rigid fork. Crazy! But the wind was blowing 25mph and gusting from there, so I suppose anything is possible with enough air velocity going by those holes.

Mike with a full load on
Well, the time ticked down and I was going to head out when up over the hill comes a cyclist. It turned out to be Mike, who just caught me before I left, and he was working hard to get there by 8:30am, so I allowed for a minute or two for him to catch his breath, then we set out to go North up Moline Road.

Mike is training for Tour divide, and has been stacking up miles with his full load on his Titanium Fargo to get ready. It was no different this day, as he had full bags on and loaded. I could tell he'd been out for awhile before hooking up with me by the dried sweat on his brow showing up as a white crust. We both set our faces into the wind and with steady but determined strokes we made our way up the rollers going Northward.

I was riding the BMC "Orange Crush", as I said, so I had a bit of an advantage weight-wise, but Mike showed how strong he was by matching my every effort with ease. Impressive. I had asked at some point in the ride how he felt he was coming along with training, and he was reporting that it was good, but maybe not enough, or what he wanted. Trust me- he's crushing the pedals now. I told him I thought he was looking great.

The slog North was steady, but grueling and the wind was relentless. We gained the county line road and turned West. It felt like stones had been lifted off our bikes, yet we were still bucking a cross wind. A few miles West and we both noted that the wind had ratcheted up in intensity a bit. If it wasn't 30mph steady with higher gusts than I would be quite surprised.

Back North again, but we only had to go about three miles before we reached some trees and bigger hills which broke up the blast and gave us a slight respite from the roaring of the wind. We were obliged to go a bit further West, then North by the Camp, past there, and finally we would get to turn East and Southeast down Ivanhoe Road, which is one of my favorite roads.

Due to the intensity of the wind, and my wearing a windbreaker, there are no images here of us going out. I stopped shortly after getting on Ivanhoe to take off the wind jacket, less I cook in a tailwind situation, and stuff it into the El Cofrecito bag. Here I was drawing the ire of a Saint Bernard dog, but I just kept yakking at it, and finally the owner stepped out to find out what all the commotion was and the dog backed off a bit. I wasn't concerned, but I kept the bike between myself and the know....just in case. 

Mike is in this image going down Mt Vernon Rd.
 We got going again and man- we were flying! The payoff for suffering through the headwind. Ivanhoe did not disappoint again. It was clean, fast, and packed in. Mike's Nanoraptors were singing as we clipped along in the upper 20's mph with little effort.

Eventually Ivanhoe dumps you out North of Denver on Highway 63, and we continued East another mile plus to a Southward turn onto Midway, which becomes Moline Road in Black Hawk County. The roads had patches here and there of fresh gravel, but nothing of any significance. With the mighty wind at our backs, we were quickly raising the average speed of this ride! Rollers were nothing, and we could actually coast the down hills for 1/2 a mile at a crack sometimes. Fun!

Mike decided to turn off and head for home when we reached Mount Vernon Road, so he took the right hander there and I continued straight on solo. I reached town lickety split, and zig-zagged my way South to the house eventually. As I was going I thought, "This ride with the wind was awesome!"

Yes, it was fun. It all just depends upon which way the wind is blowing sometimes!

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