Thursday, December 19, 2013

Triple D 2014: Unusual Warmth

Low Sun Angle
I had to set up By-Tor The Titanium Mukluk with its new drive train in the morning yesterday and do a bit of cleaning and fine tuning. I also had to track down my Loc-Tite for the chain ring bolts. Never put together chain ring bolts without Loc-Tite!

I found the thread locking fluid eventually and the job went smoothly afterward. I ate a quick lunch then got things together for a trip to the shop to drop off my Fox fork for an overhaul. Then I took "the long way home."

I decided to hit up Hartman Reserve first. Bikes are only allowed on the "lower" part, which is a sliver of land in the flood plain, mostly on the North side of old "Shirey Way", which was reputed to be the area where the "devil worshipers" congregated back in the 80's. Pfft! I never really put much credence in that story, but there it is.

Whatever the case was, on this gloriously sunny and warm, (for mid-December), day there were no evil spirits detected in the woods. Just nice, packed in single track, which my now tubeless Sterling tires were eating up like crazy. I will likely have more to say on the tubeless Sterlings in a separate post, but for now I will just say that they are a 180 degrees different feeling and performing tire tubeless over when you are running tubes in them. Simply stated, don't run the Fatback Sterling tires with a tube unless it is an emergency bail-out method to get you back home.

George Wyth State Park single track

Anyway, back to the weather! It was really quite warm out. I noted a temperature of over 40°F at one point, so the snow was softer where there were less trees. Fortunately, the Sun is at its lowest ebb in the sky these days. Had we gotten a day like this a month ago- or in February, the snow would have quickly melted into mush with the more direct rays from the Sun. That said, the trails were surprisingly firm. After yesterday we are to go back to under freezing temperatures for awhile, so whatever we have left for snow should be sticking around for a bit.

I passed by an almost totally frozen Alice Wyth Lake on my ride.
Trail conditions were holding up rather well throughout my ride though, so I kept motoring onward and decided to swing through George Wyth as well. The day was just too awesome to go straight home, and I needed to get a longer ride in.

A few places got kind of sketchy, like where the dang snow machine went down the bike path in George Wyth, as a for instance. The track of the snowmobile made tire footing treacherous in spots. I bailed off the main bike path to get away from that and found the newly flagged trail out on the Eastern end of the park.

It was bumpier, looser, and had log "teepees" to cross over, so it was slower going, but I only dabbed once, so I was pretty happy with that! Then I was looking to exit the park, and thankfully the trail dumped me out right at the ramp up onto the Cedar River bridge, which I needed to cross. One thing about bridges with attached bike paths and Winter: You always have the scrapings from the snowplows piled up on the path. It can be a big problem to ride on/through. Most often, the chemical stuff they use to de-ice and keep the roadway clear can turn the snow on the bike/ped way into something the consistency of mashed potatoes. The snow here was fortunately still rideable though, so I was able to ride the bridge, albeit slowly. The screaming traffic was awful, by the way. I hate riding beside busy roads!

More single track in George Wyth State Park

Then I finally crossed the bridge and started to take note of some excessive drag on the drive train. I decided to stop and take a good look at the bike to see just what it was that was keeping me from feeling "free". Maybe my new drive train was having an issue?

A wee bit of snow build up!
I was a bit surprised by the amount of snow that had attached itself to my bike, especially around the crank and front derailleur area. The drag was snow rubbing the rear tire. I cleared everything off and felt the immediate "free-ness" of everything- the pedaling, coasting, and drive line. It is always amazing to me how "in tune" to that I can be.

So, anyway, the riding continued and the Sun was dipping lower on the horizon. I was thinking I may need to turn on the lights, but for the time being, I just pushed on the rear tail light. I could see just fine.

I wound my way down through alleys and side streets to keep things interesting and to stay on snow as much as possible. Then back on my commute route and onward to the house. I was tired and hungry. I think I got in a good 2 plus hour ride after stopping at the shop, and probably a half an hour before that getting down there. A good kick off to the steady build up to Triple D.

I attended to the chain after getting the bike down into my "Lab". The rust monsters are tough to keep at bay when you have so much wet snow and chemical road treatment to ride through. The new chain ring size is perfect for snow riding, and even going up the steeps, I stayed in the outer ring. Never used the granny today. That's good!

More soon.....

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