Monday, March 28, 2011

On The "B Road" Of Broken Dreams

Saturday I had an encounter with a B Road, (parlance for "no maintenance", or "minimum maintenance" roads in Iowa), and I haven't seen one quite this bad since the section in Tama County we had as a part of T.I.V5.

The road started out okay. It was really, really steep, but do-able if it was dry. I never had been on this road before, so I had no idea what to expect on it as I climbed up and up.

I reached the top, walking my Black Mountain Cycles "Orange Crush" bike, since it was geared too high in the single speed mode I had it in. I saw some great views from the top, and stopped to assess the situation, munch some crunchy goodness, snap some images, and poke out some sticky clay that had mired itself in my front fork.

Up here I saw the last bits of snow hanging on here in Iowa on a "road", if one could call this "evil slot cut into the Earth" a road. Probably the last bit of snow on a road I'm likely to see around here in a long while. (Hopefully!)

Funny thing about this soil is that it clings to anything it touches. Yes- merely lightly pressing on this stuff will garner you a muddy mess. It doesn't easily let go, unless it is very nearly dry, and then, and only then will it ball up, and crumble away like cookie dough with too much flour in it. Otherwise it is a tangled, snarling mess of mud that is at once super-tacky and super-greasy. If dirt could be evil in any way, this stuff is the dirt that takes the prize for being evil.

The only things that seem to have any power over this type of stuff are the animals. I saw this paw print that was as big as my hand pressed into the sticky goo. Probably following the smallish deer tracks that were the only other prints in this soil here. Well, other than my sticky marks and the trail of two 1.9" wide Geax Barro Race tires. Unfortunately, neither I or the tires possessed the mojo necessary to escape the clutches of said soil.

I was considering using this section for Trans Iowa V7, but a really bad case of erosion which caused two ruts to form near the bottom of a valley at a depth of four feet a piece made me reconsider those plans. Having riders trying to get down a very steep, clay-ish "path" lined with two "pits of death" on either side seems like a recipe for broken dreams, maybe even broken bones. It's still under review, but I am thinking this section is just too much.

Ironically, I was Tweeting about the situation Saturday when a Trans Iowa competitor Tweeted back "please keep all evil intact". That still makes me laugh! You know, it is a cool place to check out, but being next to unrideable, it makes me wonder about putting it into Trans Iowa.  Danger and excitement are all good, but.....well......there is a limit too. We just have to decide what we want throw at the riders. It is a public "road" yet, but really, I can not imagine that the county won't close this one up, and soon.

Glad I got a look at it before that happens!


Steve Fuller said...

It's nice to get a sneak peak at Farrow's race rig for this year. I think he'll go far.

Exhausted_Auk said...

The sticky Midwest soil is, of course, what inspired Illinois blacksmith John Deere to invent his self scouring steel plow in 1837, the year commemorated as the beginning of Deere & Co.

Erik said...

Since I'm not riding TI7, my opinion means precisely nothing. That being said, it seems that if you give adequate warning in the cue sheets then you've reduced the risk a great deal.

Craig said...

I will despise every inch of that road.

Please leave it in...

Lance H Andre said...

Yes, leave the evil! just give us a little more time to "enjoy" it.

besides whats a broken bone here or there.


Matt Maxwell said...

I think that's my broken bike in the top photo there.

BicycleDreamer said...

What mile marker is it at? If it is during daylight - it might just be a must....:)

Guitar Ted said...

@BicycleDreamer: It would be a daylight traverse for the field.

Guitar Ted said...

@Lance Howard Andre: Well....erm....your opinion of "broken bones" may not be shared with the majority.

Just sayin!