Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Winter Views: Unexpected Mush

January thaw? Well.......maybe.
This Winter has been one for the record books. We've had flooding in late December, temperatures more akin to early to late March, and very, very little snow to speak of.

So, you'd think we'd be jumping for joy. Well, the single track has been more miss than hit, and we've had enough ice to make gravel travel fairly treacherous, off and on anyway. It's been in between so much that we cannot make out which way the weather is going around here.

The only thing I knew for sure was that the weekend was supposed to be warm. Not just "warm for January", but more like "warm for March". Like 50's! Weird......

So the cyclists in the area were all buzzing about getting some miles in January outside, which for most of us around here is very odd. I mean, a few of us do keep the pedals turning out of doors all year, but we're considered super-odd balls. So, there is that. But when it gets to be this warm, more "hardcore cyclists" will be out scheming to do miles in January. Most folks that did were on gravel, so the prevailing wisdom was to get up early, get the miles in, and avoid the melting messes. Apparently, mushy gravel is to be avoided at all costs.

Now I took a different viewpoint. One- at my age, falling is not a very good option. Especially on icy roads. Secondly, mushy gravel only makes you stronger. So, I followed my take on things, awaited the rising of the temperatures, and headed out around a bit before noon. I'd say I hit it juuuuust about right. Just about right for no ice and much mushiness!

There were a lot of snow packed sections where I rode. Fortunately the ice had turned to mush.
I could feel that there was a frozen base to the roads yet, but another day of this? Yeah, that will boil out that moisture too. Then it will be very mushy, with a LOT of rutting possible. I did find a couple of spots like that, and the wheels were sucked in so hard I about came to a stop. Glad I caught things in the in between state. The snow in the shadows of roadside trees was pretty packed and solid yet, so there were sections of snow I rode also. Quite the diversity of surfaces.

Cows in the stubble. I saw several fields like this where cows were grazing.
There was a slight breeze from the West. It wasn't bad, but it was there. The temperature was amazing. The Sun felt......almost hot, like it does in Summer when its rays hit your skin. That was odd for January. The Sun was also making short work of the snow and ice, despite the lower angle of its rays. Water was streaming down hills in ruts made by traffic. Puddles were everywhere. My fenders were a prized possession on this ride. They certainly paid for themselves. Unfortunately my chain did not benefit from the fenders though. It was sounding crunchy about half way through my planned route. Crunchy is NOT a good sound coming from a chain. Guitar amplifiers, cereal, and potato chips, yeah.....then it is a good thing. 

Which way do I go?
Money shot.
So, I got a good two hours in, I think. It was slow, tough, and just what I needed to get stronger. I am not taking any "big bites" just yet, and really, this is all bonus mileage anyway. There was no way you were going to plan for this in your training. It was a gift, and it looks that it will be "gifting weather" for a while yet, just not as warm as it was Saturday.

The temperatures will back down a bit, but we're still looking at bonus riding time outdoors. Hopefully all the ice will be gone now and things will firm up a bit. If they do, I'll be getting more gravel rides in than I ever dreamt I would in January here.


Steve said...

GT, what's your preferred method for cleaning the drivetrain after a ride like this one? Does the bike get brought inside, or is it all an outdoor affair? Thanks.

Guitar Ted said...

@Steve- Typically I'll clean up this in my basement, where it is unfinished on a cement floor. I generally let everything get dry. You'd be surprised how much stuff comes of with a simple brushing when it is dried up. Then I come back with a cleaner- Bike Lust, or similar, and that's that. The chain I usually clean up with WD-40, or I might take it off and use Dawn detergent and rinse with hot water in preparation for lubing with DuMonde Tech. If I use the WD-40 I then just use some off the shelf lube, (I get sent a LOT of samples), and just apply then wipe down.

If the bike is really bad- like after the DK200 in 2015 bad- it gets cleaned up outside. That's usually a complete disassemble deal then.