Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Grayscale Day On The Gravel

Wednesday was the day I had planned all week to get out and do a good, long ride on the new Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross bike. It was forecast to be partly sunny and above freezing, so I was really a bit miffed when I saw that it was mostly cloudy. Oh well! The ride must go on!

I felt that the blustery Southeasterly and lack of sun called for more black and white imagery, so I shot everything in black and white for this ride.

I decided to take a measured approach, seeing as how this was still a bit of a shake down ride, and I planned on a 30 mile route. The first half was straight into the wind. I had the BMC set up with the Revelate Designs Tangle Bag which is pretty cavernous. A person that is a good packer could go nuts with that thing!

I kept just an extra bottle and repair stuff in it this time, but it could have held more. A lot more. I'll definitely be keeping this on the bike for longer gravel rides.

The roads south of town were in great shape. The route starts out with some chip-seal, and then sort of morphs into solid gravel road after several miles. The traffic is high enough here that the roads were swept clean of gravel and were smooth, solid, peanut butter looking and were fast. I couldn't tell when the pavement ended, and the dirt started it was so smooth.

Too bad I couldn't have taken full advantage of that, since the winds were at a constant 20-25 mph at this point. Even though the temperatures were nearing 30, the wind chill made it feel very cold. I had to stop about ten miles out to stomp my feet into some semblance of feeling. I figured a few more miles south, then a couple west,and I could head back north with a brisk tail wind at my back. It couldn't be much longer, or my feet would have frozen solid.

Funny thing about this ride was that I had to stop to urinate much more than usual. Weird. At least it gave my feet a break from being sucked of all their warmth!

Once I made the right turn on Reinbeck Road, it was as if someone turned off the noise. Peace and relative quiet were there without the wind rushing by my ears. That was another bit of relief I enjoyed. Sounds of the wind whistling through my spokes could now be heard, and the constant crunching of dirt and gravel on the IRC tires was always there.

Another quick stop under a high tension wire for a (you guessed it!), nature break, and a quick bite to eat. I heard a strange moaning, as if the earth itself was bemoaning the fact that the skies were gray and the Sun had turned its face to play in the sky-fields rather than cast its warmth upon the ground. But I suddenly became aware it was really the wires high above my head, vibrating in a mournful way in the wind. It gave me the shivers. So I quickly rolled on to find my home.

Getting closer to the paved sections I began to hear a jingle when I would hit a bigger bump. I thought perhaps my tools had shifted in the Tangle Bag, but after giving it some thought, I realized that I had nothing in it that would resonate at that frequency. So, I began to pay attention to how the bike felt. Nothing strange there to indicate that anything was loose, but still, the noise persisted on bigger bumps and it was bothering me.

By now I was well into the city, four or more miles after I had first heard the noise. Now that I had hit a secluded patch on the bicycle path, I could hear the noise much more clearly, and it was coming low and from the rear wheel. I looked back, and it was the cog I was using to hold on the spacers and Surly 20T cog of the drive train. It was dangling from the axle and would bounce up and ring when I hit a bigger bump. Thank God the cog didn't com off somehow! I stopped and managed to hand tighten it back on for the final run in to my home.

30 miles, a little less than three hours, and two frozen feet later I was back and smiling, even if it was all gray skies.


Dan O said...

Cool shots. Great blog!

Captain Bob said...

Glad you got a nice ride in with no MAJOR mechanicals. Might want to pack a chainwhip in your pack for CIRREM.

RC said...

Dude! Yur gunna havta get urself a differn' mechanic!!!!!! :.)) or ride out from under that black cloud that's been following you!

Adam said...

Which size tangle bag is that?

ScottsHighland said...

Great ride report and awesome photos! I've been using Grabber foot warmers in my shoes ($1.19 per pair) on the cold rides, and I'll have 'em on my toes at CIRREM. Makes a HUGE difference for me.

Thanks for the great blog!

Guitar Ted said...

@Adam: I am not certain. I'll check and get back with a comment here.

MICHAEL said...

I was out doing the same thing yesterday on my Fargo....the south wind was brutal, and the east/west roads were slushy messes...soaked feet for sure.

shiggy said...

I was listening to the singing powerlines on a windy ride last week. It is rather eerie.

oldmanandhisbike said...

what is up with that having to pee thing? damn. i had that during my last ride too. think i was drinking too much water and not sweating enough!
that is a damn nice looking gravel grinder!

Guitar Ted said...

@Adam: It is the Mountain Tangle size.