Thursday, April 25, 2019

Country Views: Planting Begins

Things are starting to look less dead and more orderly out in the country.
Wednesday was supposed to be "beautiful" according to the early weather reports last weekend. It wasn't "bad", but it wasn't "beautiful". Dreary? Yeah...... Cool-ish and gray.

The wind on Sunday, which was ridiculously strong and sent me packing, was there yesterday also but it was a mere breeze. Not the gale force blast that had me doing max effort going South. This was tolerable, if not a bit tough, and so my goal was to be met this time. That was to go down and see Petrie Road's Level B section for the first time this year.

The frost was long out, and the winds with little to no rains have left the roads very dried out, sandy, and deep. That was a good sign that Petrie's Level B might be rideable. But that dirt slot has its own mind and you just never know what you'll come across. I've seen water sitting on the roadway at the mid-section of that mile when it hasn't rained for weeks. So, just because everything else was dry didn't mean that Level B would be passable.

But as the saying goes, "You'll never know unless you try".

First check!
I got through the head wind, soft, sandy roads, and turned on to the Level B section. I crested a small hillock to see the above. Torn to hell by tractors and a mudpit waiting. But it looked like there was a way around it. While the dried tractor tire lug impressions made for a ride like a constant rumble strip, I was able to navigate that mess while riding. Not even a dab! I was stoked. Now up that sandy hill......

That sand wasn't dry! It was saturated and I had to search for the best line I could. The skinny 40mm tires were doing the "pizza cutter" thing and resistance to forward movement was very high. Eventually, I cut too deep and came to a halt. That was as far as I could ride.

Fortunately I only had to hoof it about 20 yards and then I came out of that super saturated sandy bit to more solid footing. Back on the Bubblegum Princess and pedaling again. This time I made it to the top section. The highest point of that Level B, and where I generally stop to take in the surrounding view.

It's a pretty rare day that you don't see at least a little bit of water at the top of the ridge here.
After that visit I planned my descent into the valley and this is where I had to dismount twice more to navigate two stretches of just torn up, saturated, muddy ground. It was a mess, but there was a way to walk through it all. During this walkathon, I noted an ag machine spraying nitrogen fertilizer. It was travelling at a pretty good clip so he got three good looks at me as he made his rounds. He was probably freaking out about some crazy old looking dude on a pink bike passing down the dirt road. No doubt he thought I'd lost my marbles.

The big planting rigs have been busy already
I got out of that mess and headed back North again with the wind at my back. It was apparent that I had been working hard going South because going North was super easy. Fast even! Along the way I saw a lot of planted fields already and many farm machines were moving about the countryside.Planting of corn is well underway here, and I've no doubt the rest of the week will be similar in rural areas of Iowa with all sorts of machinery moving from field to field.

This is what most of the gravel is like now. Loose, sandy, and deep.
The messed up roads continued to dominate the scene with little to no solid ground to ride on. My bike was fishtailing and the front wheel was pushing sandy gravel all the way back to Waterloo.

I did see a road maintenance crew out consisting of a dump truck full of gravel and a grader machine. Both were busy dumping and smoothing out fresh gravel across the roads. So, either I was pushing through sandier, deep gravel or over chunky, fresh deep gravel. High resistance training! My legs were done by the end of the ride.

But I did get to ride, (kind of) Petrie Road's Level B section, so that was fun. I'm sure it will straighten up given time and better weather, which by the looks of things, isn't going to be for a while. It looks mostly cool, wet, and cloudy now through the end of the weekend. That actually might help straighten out the other roads though, which would be a very welcomed thing. It also would have made for an epic Trans Iowa, had I still been running that this year! They say my date for that always seemed to have the craziest weather.

Anyway..... This may slow down the planting season a bit, but I'd guess within the next two weeks it will be all over for corn. In the meantime, we should be on the lookout for big trucks, pick-up trucks, farm machinery, and county maintenance graders and dump trucks. Traffic is going to pick up for a bit out there!

1 comment:

Zed F. said...

No rollers? They just dump, grade and let the farm trucks compact it? It would hold up better if the rolled it.