Monday, May 20, 2013

3GR Report: Withering Wind

The Lilacs in bloom were sweet smelling
The 3GR for Saturday was an odd ball one, for sure, since I knew that many regulars were out of town for the Almanzo events.  I also had to push back the start to 2:30pm due to my neighborhood clean-up, which happened on Saturday morning. So, I knew there was a good chance this ride would be a solo one.

Turns out I was right about that. At least it was warm and clear out, for the most part. However; there was a wind, and it wasn't what I would call a "favorable wind", what with it coming out of the South and me going North to start out with. Yes- a tail wind North, but that meant a head wind to finish it off. I usually prefer that to be in reverse order, but it was what it was.

So, I set out alone on the Vaya and headed through the bike paths which get me out North of town and out to gravel. I met a few riders that probably are training for RAGBRAI, judging by the loud music they were playing on their bike mounted music systems. I was glad I was headed in the other direction. The music of the wind, birds, and the crunch of gravel on my tires was what I wanted to hear.

Of course, headed mostly North should have felt great, but for whatever reason, I was out of sorts. I never could get into a comfortable rhythm and I knew it wasn't going well for me. The Vaya has a couple of bugs to be worked out yet: a pedal, (I think), that is going bad, the seat and stem positions are not right yet, and the saddle isn't good enough.

I got this!
Along about this time I note that my right side bar tape is unraveling. Okay.....if there is one thing that ticks me off on a drop bar bike- it is unraveling or loose bar tape. So, I make the decision to stop right then and there to rewrap it. I carefully undo the finishing tape so I can reuse it, and then I get to work. Within minutes I have the job done and I am back riding again. One less thing to bug me while I am out riding!

Then I notice the rear derailleur cable is too loose, and I try fixing that on the fly. After a few attempts, I get that taken care of. Another issue to deal with when I get back home though. The barrel adjuster is pretty far out, and that isn't a good thing either. At least I can shift the thing up into lower gears now! I understand at this point why customers of the bike shop that do not have the skills to do this sort of stuff get frustrated though. If this happened to me and I was clueless on what to do, I would be pretty mad! Fortunately, I do know what to do when mini-disasters strike out on the road. (Gotta remember to put a little tape in the kit next time though!)

Good as new!
I roll out to finish off the Northward march. I finally hit on a bit of rhythm here, but I still feel slightly out of sorts. I can not really put my finger on it either. Just not feeling it today. I was trying to decide if I should go for the big loop, or cut back on the original route and then over toward home. My decision was helped when I turned East just past C-50. Wind! I would be hitting a pretty significant headwind going back. Probably 20mph with higher gusts. Not as bad as the week before, but this would be at the tail end of the ride and not in the beginning of the ride, like it was last week.

I'd been looking for a likely place to stop and have a "nature break", when I crested a small hill and the road went back North again. Here was a little turn off into a farmer's field that put me out of the general view of anyone around, so that was perfect. I swung over, ditched the bike, and did my business quickly. Then after a few shots with the camera I remounted and headed back out on the gravel. The road was strewn with newer gravel, but it had been beaten in pretty well by the copious amounts of farm traffic of late.

That's Ingawanis Woods in the distance.
Finally I go by Ingawanis Woods and hit the big rollers by the rock quarry. The road is always super-fast through here. Better than smooth pavement. I like this bit and it doesn't disappoint on this day. Even the wind seemed to relent and let me enjoy the climb and descent down to my right hand turn and back into that wind.

The Wind: I can remember thinking to myself, " we go!", as I made the turn. After a few rollers I was out in the open and getting pummeled. The wind was actually getting stronger, and puffs of gravel dust were being driven along which would sweep by me and keep on rolling Northward. Not me. I was resigned to going slowly South and hopefully, eventually, back home.

Every pedal stroke was laborious, hard, and was starting to hurt my right knee. These are the times that, overall, probably pretty much suck in terms of cycling and why I do this, but there are other reasons to be. I was trying to focus on those things. Overall, I would say I was successful, because, ya know, I made it back home to write about it!

There was the young buck in the rusty Chevy with a load of seed corn. I would say, if I didn't know any better, that he was slowing down after he passed me to dust me in his wake. Unfortunately for him, the slight Southeastward origins of the withering blast were directing his limestone assault off the road rather quickly. He then turned around and with an impish grin, waved hello as he drove back the other way to douse me one more, albeit brief, time. Bah!

A field of Hopes and Possibilities
Then there were the several farmers out planting in the fields. Frantically working against the clock, these farmers were putting in seed with the fainting hopes that it wasn't too late to get a good corn crop. Last year, in comparison, the corn was already knee high.

Beans will be next, but this is the time to plant those, so the rush isn't as extreme as it is for the corn crop. I was wishing them well as I passed slowly by on my way South. An insect compared to the behemoths of the fields which crawled back and forth across the newly tilled earth.

All these things kept me from thinking about how much this ride was actually hurting. It was definitely not fun to deal with that nasty wind and the heat, which wasn't too extreme, but it was in the 80's. I was often reminded of how the Dirty Kanza 200 could feel like this. A brutal wind, no where to hide, and running out of water. Been there, not quite "done that", but I'd given it my best shot all three times I'd tried it.

Eventually I made it all the way back into town. One thing I discovered, and I am pretty convinced of this now, is that  the BioPace ring I am using makes a definite difference. I found I was able to power through hills with out getting those peak loads on every revolution that really take your momentum of pedaling away, and cause you to shift down, or to stop altogether. I was glad to have that discovery.

Back home I was wiped out! Good thing it was family home made pizza night!

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