Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dirty Metric #1

Starting out at 30°F with heavy frost on the ground. The temperature rose 34°F during my ride!
Maybe some of you know that I joined The Cup O Dirt Challenge this year. Well, I either have to get in 12 metric centuries or six "real" ones. I figured on starting out by trying the metric ones, but I got shut out in January, and February was about shot. In comes the good weather, and so I decided that Saturday was my day. Do or die, because I wasn't going to get a second chance in February. I got everything lined up Friday night, and I went to bed early, (for me 10:00 pm is early!), and the alarm was set for six in the morning.

I knew going into this that I was going to see a wide swing in temperatures. It was 30°F when I left at 7:00am and I was expecting that I might see 60°F before I got home. Dressing, or maybe more accurately, undressing, for this as the day went on was going to be interesting. I also had to balance being able to carry enough water and food with having a place to stash things as I peeled them off.

Here's a list of what I was wearing when I left the house:
  • Bontrager sleeveless base layer.
  • Louis Garneau bib shorts
  • Pirate Cycling League "black" jersey from 2014
  • "Frostbike" branded wool DeFeet arm warmers.
  • Bontrager Thermal tights
  • Bontrager wind shell 
  • DeFeet wool socks
  • "Mart bag" vapor barriers on the feet.
  • Polypro beanie
  • Wool glove liners with Bontrager heavy Lycra full finger Winter gloves. 
  • Shimano three strap shoes. 
  • Gargoyle sunglasses
  • Bell helmet.

Headed South on Aker Road. It was darn chilly, but the Sun was bright and the winds were light.
I wanted to get an early start since the weather guys were predicting stronger winds as the day wore on. The wind was a breeze when I left, and little more than noticeable, but as I got down the road, you could feel it pick up a bit in intensity. The plan was to hit a spot about half way to Traer and take a tiny break. I had to relieve myself, so a little before I really wanted to stop, I found an abandoned barn. It was a perfect place to stop.

A brief stop to have a nature break and eat a bit of gel. Then it was back at it!
I figured on going through two water bottles by Traer at about 25 miles in. I had five with me- Two in the Chaff Bags, two in the cages, and one stashed inside of my Tangle Bag. I had about ten gel packets with me, two peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and five dollars. Traer would be my only resupply point where I figured on refilling the two water bottles and maybe finding something to nibble on that was "real food' besides my sandwiches which were for later. I tried to eat and drink at regular intervals, and I tried to throttle back a bit on the riding, since I was heading into the wind. I seemed to be successful on all accounts seemingly, that is until I got closer to Traer. It was then I felt the "hunger monster" and knew I'd better eat something soon.

See that little cardboard box on the ledge above my handle bars? It's a little cherry pie! It was really good too. 
The stop in Traer came at about 9:45am and that was a bit of a surprise to me as I only stopped once and I thought I was going faster than that. However; the wind was a factor. Inside the convenience store I found a Scotcheroo and a cute little cherry pie in a tin inside a cardboard box. All for $2.88, which was pretty nice. The gal at the counter took forever to get off the phone since she was taking a food order from a customer that couldn't make up their mind. Yes- small town convenience stores have become village cafeterias. Many small town convenience stores provide this service and pizza delivery, or take away. Anyway, I stood there for ten minutes so this stop took way longer than I wanted it to.

Hike-a-bike. It's good for the soul.
South of Traer I wanted to travel just South of Highway 63 Westward, so I could get over to J Avenue and see if the bridge was back in. However; I ran into a messy Level B road which made me decide to go down another mile to 200th and then West. Okay, so far, so good. Then I saw another Level B. Rats! I was going to end up either going way out of my way, backtracking, or just hike-a-biking straight on through. I chose the last, and it was a slow going slog.

Maybe I should have packed snowshoes!
Thanks to Mike Johnson, who made this tool, I was back up and running in no time once I cleared the Level B road.
All along during the ride I could feel it getting a wee bit warmer, but it was still pretty chilly. That is until I finished hiking the Level B Road. It was like a switch had been flipped, and I ended up stashing my beanie, wind jacket, and both pairs of gloves. The walk on the muddy, snowy ditch ragged out my cheesy vapor barriers, so I removed them. I was fine without them afterward anyway.

The mud was dispatched from my bike and shoes by a simple little tool made from a shish-kabob skewer by Mike Johnson who showed it to me a couple of years ago. It works like a champ and is easily stowed in a bag. Thanks Mike! Once that task was done, my clothes stashed, and after a bit of water, I was off again. I decided to skip going to J Avenue when I ran into another muddy Level B. I just headed straight up K Avenue instead. I couldn't afford to spend the time hiking another B road on this day.

Ridge Road Northwest of Traer is an awesome piece of Iowa gravel. You should ride it too.
It wasn't long before I was going back North and East with the wind, which was getting darn right strong now out of the Southwest, and I was on my way back to Waterloo. I hit one of my favorite roads, Ridge Road, and had a guy on a motorcycle slow down to chat with me a bit. He was amazed when I told him I had ridden down from Waterloo where I live.
Rest stop on the corner of 155th and P.
I was getting really sore in my left shoulder on the way back. I bunged it up when I fell on the ice a month or so ago, and it really aches after getting jarred on gravel. I had some ibuprofen, fortunately, and that took the edge off, but it was a struggle until the medication took effect. I'll have to try lifting some mild weights and stretching to see if I can get that back into shape.

The wind really was pushing me hard, which was good. I was getting tired legs and I had 20 miles to go. I made the final rest stop at the corner of 115th and U Street to eat my last peanut butter and honey sandwich, then I flew back to Waterloo on the wings of the wind.

All in all it was a great day out on the bike, I felt really good, considering this was my longest ride since October, and everything went pretty much according to plan. I got back at 2:15pm, so it was a long day anyway. I have not fully accounted for the mileage yet, but I am pretty sure it was over 63 miles, (UPDATE- Total mileage was just at 70 miles), so I got my Cup O Dirt challenge started out right. Now I just need to keep it up.


Mike Johnson said...

Job well done. All great roads with pretty scenery. Glad the mud remover work for ya,a tool you never leave home without.

David Swanson said...

Sounds like a good ride, thanks for the tool tip!