Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Brown Season: Mud And Wind

Appearances Can Be Deceiving File #238: Looks nice- Reality = Miserable.
I probably should have taken the day to do some lighter effort and recovered from the big weekend I had. Or maybe it was just that the Northwest wind was actually stronger than reported. But then again- maybe it was that it rained most of Sunday afternoon and Sunday night, which soaked the gravel and made it soft.

Or maybe it was all of those things together which conspired to make going North on Monday a real chore. Whatever it was, all I know is that I was slogging out a slow, methodical cadence and realizing the blazing speed of 8+ mph. Simply eye-watering. The wind that is, not the speed I was going.......

I had a little extra time to put on the Black Mountain Cycles MCD for good measure to get the "Lube-Off" test completed. (Results and Commentary tomorrow) I was hoping that the wind would have dried up the gravel by the time I went out, but to no avail. It wasn't dry out there. In fact, there was standing water and much of the gravel was mud or saturated with water to the point where the tires made that distinct sound of rubber squeegeeing out the moisture as the wheels pressed into the roadway.

Some of the last cornfields to be harvested. Note the darkened gravel indicating a saturated road surface.
At least it looked somewhat cheery out, with faded "blue jean blue" skies and big white, puffy clouds hurrying overhead. The Sun cast shadows, now with a low-angled light indicative of late Fall/Early Winter. This time of year, everything just looks odd, and more dramatic, due to the light angle.

Machines stopped mid-harvest awaiting the fields to become dry again.
A big tractor sits alone in the midst of an enormous harvested soybean field. Again- Note the muddied gravel here.
I toughed it out going North as long as I could, but beating myself down after already being worn thin on the weekend wasn't probably ideal for my health. So, I eventually turned East and South, which obviously was much easier and faster going. 20+ mph? I'll take that. Yes!

Harvested fields expose this wood framed home as being quite isolated. 
The roads weren't quite so gravelly for the back 3/4's of my loop, and with the wind at my back- mostly- it was a far easier ride. But the roads are slowly finding their way to what I call "Winter Mode"- Less gravel, more dirt, and really smooth. Good days of weather mean fast, smooth sailing, but I never know when- or if- I will be able to take it all in on a gravel bike.

The forecast looks pretty bleak, with an Arctic blast aimed at us and high temperatures in the 20's. Any wind with that and you are talking near zero wind chill. Too cold for gravel travel. I may be fat biking most of next week. After that, who knows.........

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