Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dodging Mud And Mire

At first, things didn't look bad at all!
Yesterday I had some big plans to travel southward a bit and ride some gravel, but an arrangement to pick up my son from school fell through and I had to make other plans.

Sometimes having to make "other plans" works out to your benefit. That is just what happened yesterday. The situation was such that what I had thought I'd like to do would have ended up becoming a big waste of time.

The day was the odd colder day for this week. I was also a bit bummed out by this. I've been riding in cold weather for too long and to miss out a longer ride in warmer weather by a day stuck in my craw a bit. However; I went out despite the double disappointments of changed plans and poor weather, and I got in a good ride that was perfect for me right now where I am at. Meaning that I am not in all that good of shape and a shorter ride closer to home was a lot better idea than I had originally!

I headed out straight North into the teeth of a stiff, 18mph Northwest wind at 27°F air temperature. I buckled down and tried to maintain a steady pace as I left town and the wind was unhindered by urban structures. At first I noticed that a Winter of fat biking and riding a wider bottom bracket was making me pedal the Black Mountain Cycles rig with an odd leg position. It felt weird and my thigh was hurting just above the knee on my left leg. I made some conscious adjustments to my pedaling which brought things back into balance and the pain subsided.

Parked for a break from the wind.
The grind Northward on Burton Avenue is all uphill with little relief even without any wind. With a constant blast of wind, it gets really tough. It wasn't long after I left the city that it had become apparent to me that I wasn't in good enough shape yet to have tackled my original plan. I tried to settle into a steady cadence, but I could tell I wasn't going to last long going straight into this wind.

I decided to turn out at Mt Vernon Road and head East. I rolled down the hill and felt instant relief from that constant wind which was now a quartering tail wind. I pulled over at a huge drift to take a few images and to settle down a bit. Then it was off to the East.

The road going North was fine, but not long after turning East I found that the roads were messed up and that if it were warmer, it would have been really pretty miserable. I could see the frozen "peanut butter" and on the sides of the main tire paths where the cars had been running I could discern ruts and soft mud. The Sun was already working on the snow, and despite that fact that it was below freezing, the snow was melting, running down the road, and making certain areas really soft and tough to ride on. Every now and again, where a runoff ditch or small creek was, there was much flooding and running water in the ditches since the water cannot soak  into the fields due to the dirt being frozen yet.

Does "BR" stand for "Big Rock"?
I headed across Mt. Vernon Road for three miles and then turned back South again. It was another level up on the easy scale with the wind more at my back now. My legs, which were fairly fried already, were rejoicing. I could keep motoring along just fine now!

I decided to stop at the big rock at the corner of Big Rock Road and Sage Road. The kids have been busy since last Summer with spray paint, I see. What is it about a large glacial erratic and kids with a can of spray paint anyway? I never quite figured out the siren call of that act. Oh well! Just about anywhere in Iowa there is a big rock all by itself like this, you'll find graffiti.

Onward back to Waterloo now. There were a lot more rivulets of running water, melting snow off of big drifts or from farm driveways, and the like. It made for a bit of lane swapping at times. Like I said, if it had been warmer, the roads surely would have been a big mess, and the going a lot tougher and slower. I was glad it was colder now! So things actually worked out for the best. I didn't get stuck killing myself on a long ride I wasn't ready for and the colder temperatures kept the muck at bay.

I made it home after two hours and was pretty toasted. Obviously when I got sick I lost a lot of fitness, but with some consistent work, I think it will be back again. It's just going to take some patience and miles in the saddle. That's for sure! My next big ride is scheduled for Saturday, but we'll see how the roads hold up. It might get real interesting!


john said...

Looks like there is some good energy for long weekend rides in your valley. OR the Spring Classics look good too.

Steve Fuller said...

You will be back before you know it.