Thursday, October 17, 2013

Gray Day Riding

Volage's Viaje was the ride for the day.
Wednesday. Testing day here, and this time on gravel. I decided to ride portions of the 3GR course, but I started in reverse, just to make things interesting. Mid 40°F' temperatures and a Northwest wind meant it would also be chilly. Gray skies threatened rain. It was already spitting before I took off in the morning.

 I suited up and got rolling, stopping to get a bunch of images of the bike by an old, cement elephant that sits just off the bicycle path in Exchange Park in Waterloo. It is a last remnant of an older park that once existed on this site called Robinson Crusoe's Island. It featured many really cool things for kids to explore, play on and around, and fired up imaginations- mine included when I once visited here as a child. I remember the fake footprints and thinking they might be real. Such is the fun and mind of a child. Now all that remains is the elephant, and probably most folks these days have no idea why it is there, or what it represents.

Well, anyway.....I got going and hit the gravel North of town and headed out into the country. The wind was at my face as I headed out on Burton Avenue. Being that the light was pretty horrible for color imagery, I switched to black and white mode, seeing as how it was sullen and gray anyway, it seemed to suit the mood of the day.

Grain Bins & Elevators
Harvesting activities were still ongoing despite the wet weather
Lots of corn still to be harvested yet.
Nature Break
I headed up North as far as Gresham Road and then headed West. That didn't take the wind completely out of the equation, but I was getting used to it by now anyway. What was going on though was rain. A fine, light rain, but rain none the less. Actually, I was glad that it was pissing rain a bit, because I seem to ride better when it gets like that. And for another reason as well, but I'll not allude to that any further here.

Suffice it to say that I saw this as a good thing and powered along until I needed to stop for a"nature break". Fortunately there still is a lot of corn left in the fields yet, otherwise it gets a lot harder to find a good place to do your business at. A quick stop in a rattling, dry stand of corn and I was off again.

I got as far West as Streeter Road and turned South. Okay.....that's a tailwind now! Not much of a push, since the winds were lighter now, but it makes a difference anyway. The rain had saturated the gravel at some points to where a hint of mud was seen to be splattered on the fork and bottom bracket. But mostly, it was such a fine rain that it soaked into the roadbed and what traffic there was had pushed the stone into the dirt in many places compared to what I had seen here last Saturday. It's a welcome difference from the dry, hard as stone road bed we've bounced over all Summer long and into Fall. Now the road bed was softer. More forgiving.

The bike was fitted with some 700c X 40mm Kenda Happy Medium tires. I had always wanted to try these out, and now I can say that I think they seem to be fine tires. Of course, I can't really compare to anything I've used since Spring because of the softer road beds, but in the looser, deeper gravel, they seemed to be okay. Hopefully I can get a read on them in the short time I'll have this bike around.

Yes, the sky looked like this! Like B&W against color.
I headed back towards the East to come back into town again similarly to how we had for the 3GR's all year. I was starting to get a bit too damp inside, with the sweat and all, and it was starting to chill me a bit. Fortunately the rain let up and I was able to maintain a warmth that allowed me to be relatively comfortable the rest of the ride.

It is funny how at this time of year, before the hard freezes, how any rain combined with cooler temperatures wakes up the grass and it turns that emerald green again, like it was in Spring. A last flash of life before Winter sets in and puts everything to sleep for a few months or more. Even some flowers have returned to grace the ditches again for a short time. It will be short too. Next week we're supposed to get pretty chilly around these parts. But it is late October, after all, and Winter is at the doorstep.

I made it home and had some lunch and made plans for recon of the Trans Iowa course this weekend. That and building up a gold fat bike are what's on the menu for this weekend. It should be a busy time ahead for several days......


Josh Lederman said...

Thanks for mentioning Robinson Crusoe's Island. Whenever I'm reminded about that park it brings back great memories. The tree house was awesome. I'd forgotten about the footprints. Thanks.

Guitar Ted said...

@Josh: You're welcome! I only got there maybe twice in my life, (being from Charles City, we didn't get down there much), so you know it was an impressive place if I recall anything at all about it!

Dave said...

Funny, I don't seem to remember any info about that bike. Did you have other posts that mentioned it?

Guitar Ted said...

@Dave: It isn't odd, it is because I have not posted anything on that bike before today. So, you are correct- you have not seen anything on it here.......yet. It's a test bike I have just had come in for Gravel Grinder News. Look for an intro on it this week there.