Monday, May 12, 2014

Getting Back To Normal

Lots of freshly planted fields
Saturday I got out for a morning ride. As it was supposed to be windy from the Southeast, the plan was to go South and East on the grid of gravel roads South of Waterloo. The Sun was up and the skies looked okay starting out. The temperature was in the upper 40's but it was supposed to climb quickly to the 70's within a couple hours of my start.

The ride Southeast out of town on the bike path was pleasant as the path is mostly shielded from the wind by brush and low trees. Many songbirds make this strip of vegetation home now and I spied my first Goldfinches of the season while headed out to the countryside. I reached my jumping off point and hit the gravel.

The wind was pretty stiff. I'd say it was around 20mph to start out with some slightly higher gusts. It was enough to make the rollers a hard grind, for sure. Not only that, but Black Hawk County hasn't been idle and there was several stretches of fresh gravel to slog through as well. The upside was that the temperatures were indeed rising, the scenery was great with all the freshly planted fields, and the aroma of freshly turned soil in the air. Definitely a Springtime in Iowa ride!

The skies darkened whilst I was out there!
Of course, the Springtime also brings occasional showers, and this day was no exception. I could see the gathering clouds. My marvel of post-modern technology, the iPhone, showed me the weather radar and I determined that I'd probably be okay since my route was taking me around the rain clouds, mostly, and I also had my packable rain jacket, just in case. With that bit of insurance I motored onwards down new-to-me gravel in search of the Tama County line where I would make my turn back towards home.

The wind was making that quest quite a workout, and speeds were not all that high, but I was moving and I wasn't tired......yet! Of course, I haven't been on my game since Trans Iowa happened and I didn't know when, or even if, I was going to run out of gas. Added to this was the fact that I was experimenting with riding on a light breakfast of two Clif Bars instead of my regular fare. I was definitely committed to the strategy as I brought three water bottles with two having electrolytes in them and one gel packet. If I bonked, I was going to be in trouble, but typically I ride well on a more empty stomach than on a full breakfast of any sort.

Stop to swap out water bottles.
I didn't get very many images since the demise of my Fuji means that I am now packing my Panasonic LX-3 which isn't a very friendly "shoot-while-you-ride" camera. Especially since I am pretty vigilant about using the lens cap when it isn't in use. I've got my eye on this camera as a replacement for the Fuji which should rectify that situation and allow me more freedom to shoot from the saddle again. So there were only images from my two brief stops. I passed a few choice barns, so this route will have to be revisited!

Eventually I ran into the pahas of Hickory Hills and turned West. I noted that my return trip may not feature the hoped for tailwinds to push me. The wind strength had become more varied, and lessened than when I had started. Going North I was working a lot less though, so apparently there was still some benefits left to getting going in the opposite direction!

Along about twenty minutes later I ran into sprinkles. I stopped at a right turn briefly to assess whether or not to grab the rain jacket. I didn't think it would be necessary, and in the end that proved out to be correct. The rest of the journey in was uneventful. I turned in almost 3.5 hours of riding which I was pleased with. The bonus was that I wasn't dead or really wasted when I got back. The single gel was enough, and I felt pretty okay on Sunday as well. I am not sure if I've actually figured something out, was lucky, or if I am all the way back from the hit of Trans Iowa, but it was a good ride for a change More "normal" than not, which is progress. I'll take it.

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