Thursday, April 17, 2014

B Road Test

A brutal wind out there yesterday!
Wednesday I had been driving myself nuts over-thinking all the details for the upcoming Trans Iowa V10, so I finally talked myself into going on a bicycle ride. I was pretty sure I really wanted to ride single track in the woods, but with a high wind warning for the afternoon, it wasn't a very good idea. Unless you like risking being knocked upside the head with a heavy branch from an aging cottonwood tree. I decided to take a pass on that one.....

So I decided to ride the Tamland Two with the Bruce Gordon Rock & Roads. I headed down the usual escape route thinking I would go down through the more protected areas along the river and back again. However; when I dropped down onto the bike path I went hard left instead of right. I'm not really sure why, but I reformulated a plan and that plan led me straight into the wind.

And what a wind! It was blasting out of the South at about 30 mph and sometimes with higher gusts. I ended up "wind grinding" it in the small chain ring, head down in the drops, trying to hold it steady in the occasional cross blasts. It was nice to learn that the Tamland's front wheel doesn't do that "dive-correct-dive-correct" thing into the wind, but it has a very planted feel. It only gets pushed sideways in a crosswind in a very predictable way. That made riding it easier than maybe it would have been with another bike's geometry.

The Objective I was wanting to reach- Petrie Road's B Maintenance section. 
I was trying to get to Petrie Road and its one mile long B Maintenance section so I could try a couple of  ideas. One was to see how the roads are coming back after 4 inches of rain. The second was the idea of timing myself on a one mile stretch of B Road. But first I had to get there! That was turning out to be not so easy. I was on that bike path, and somewhat protected, but after awhile I was obliged to leave it and go up the old Highway 63 paved section to just east of Hudson to reach Holmes Road, which is a gravel. That would eventually dump me at the corner of Holmes and the beginning of the B Maintenance sector of Petrie Road. On a normal day the ride is a piece of cake, but the mighty wind had other ideas on this day.

I didn't stop till I got there......
There were several times on the pavement, and then again on the gravel of Holmes Road where I was likely going less than 5mph. The wind was roaring the entire time as well, so I had to come up with something to keep my sanity as I rode along. You see, I don't do music and ear buds. It just doesn't work for me. For some reason a vague rendition of Pharrell Williams "Happy" popped into my head, so I just went with that and put my head down.

I was trying to calculate the mileage to the B Road, thinking I had one more agonizing mile of headwind to endure when I suddenly recognized the road and knew I was almost there. Just when I did, the wind redoubled its attack, but I was within striking distance now and would not be denied. I was going to get there without stopping for a rest. I swung down into muddy two track and road in about 50 yards before I pulled up to stop for the first time to catch my breath and give my legs a well deserved rest.

Even just pushing the bike was causing clay to build up on the wheels!
So I figured I would walk the mile and see how long it took. That way I could tell folks "something" which may or may not help in their reconnoitering of how to attack the course for Trans Iowa V10 which includes 10 such B Maintenance road sectors which could all be unrideable.

It became immediately apparent after pushing my bike less than 10 feet that the clay-ish soil was going to collect on my rig's tires very quickly to the point that I would no longer be able to roll the bike. That meant I should probably be carrying it. Since I had a Revelate Tangle Bag on, to simulate a "load" for a Trans Iowa attempt, I couldn't shoulder the bike underneath the top tube. I ended up reaching over the top tube and picking up the bike by the down tube and hoisting away.

I then trotted down the lane, feet clagging up with clay, and this went on until I spied perhaps a more excellent way to traverse this unrideable morass of soil saturated with water. The field! As I surveyed my options, I spied a little "causeway" between mud and stubble that wasn't bad to walk on. In fact, it was almost pleasant, what with all the dead tall grass laying down like a sort of thatched rug under my feet. The bike rolled along well on this grassy track, so I went with it.

This is not cheating- just being prudent!
I suppose it could be called a "ditch", only it was pretty much level with the field next to it and was actually higher than the road proper in many spots. The dead grasses might hide treacherous "bear traps" like barbed wire, debris, or the like, but if it did, I never fell victim to any of that, thankfully. I pushed onward and came up to a point where I was obliged to settle on the edge of the road where the grass ended and the mud began since the grassy "causeway" had ceased to be a good track.

This T.I.V10 B Road could take a bit longer to walk if muddy
I pushed my bike's tires a little too far outward and the clay was so greasy the bike almost went down! I picked it back up and skedaddled over to the other side where now there was a nice, mown edge to the road, since I was approaching a farm, and the end of the dirt.

I coasted the last short graveled section to the corner and hopped off. It took 20 minutes. I figured that was about right since I stopped twice to photograph things but coasted out the last tiny bit to help make up for the lost time, plus I trotted a bit to speed things up in the middle.

Fortunately I did not have to portage the bike for very far. If I had been obliged to do so, it would have taken longer than 20 minutes, since I am sure that carrying a bicycle in the mud would be slower than rolling the bike in the grass. With 10 B Maintenance roads in Trans Iowa this year, it will be a good idea not to be lolly gagging about since each of these may take a while to navigate on foot.

But I wasn't concerned with B Maintenance roads any longer. I was licking my chops because that brutal headwind was going to push me all the way back home at high speeds. It was a great reward for having gutted out the ride's beginning. I did hear weird noises, almost as if a jet airplane was nearby with engines at full throttle. A roaring, deep booming mixed in with the swirling sounds of the wind as it rushed along Northward. Winds do strange things to sounds. Who knows? Maybe I was hearing a lofty jet! Whatever it was I just shrugged and cranked out the final miles in the big ring.

The B Road test went well, and my legs and lungs got a great workout. I'm glad I put down the Trans Iowa stuff for a bit to get out for a ride.

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