Monday, June 17, 2013

3GR Report: Solo Beat Down

Rolling hills North of W'loo
It rained all night, but it cleared up by morning and was looking to stay that way. So, I rolled outta the sack at 7:00am to get to Gates Swimming Pool parking lot by 8:30am. I had done a little Father's Day pre-celebrating the night before, thanks to the family, and stayed up a bit too late as well. I wasn't on my best form for sure, but I had to get on the bike and go. I wasn't quite sure how this was all going to go, but I made it down there with 10 minutes to spare.

The day looked fine. A bit of wind out of the South, but the skies were clear and the temperature was very comfortable. It was just the rain that we had during the overnight that concerned me a bit. Fortunately, I have this SKS Race Blade clip on rear splash guard and I fixed this to the BMC just before rolling out. Later on I was super thankful that I had done that!

Visiting the "big rock" which gave Big Rock Road its name
I was thinking since it was Father's Day weekend that I may not see anyone for the ride. Well, that and the recent rain. It was still raining at 6:00am, so it may have scared off a few folks, I don't know. At any rate, no one showed this time, so I immediately started looking for a public restroom! I had to go!

Fortunately the park near by had a porta-jon that was actually clean and I used it straight away. Now feeling far better, I was going to go out and change up the route a bit. Instead of going up to the North a half mile from the start, I went an extra mile to Sage Road, turned North, and headed out of town on the rolling hills Northeast of Waterloo.

It didn't take long before I found out that the rains had made the gravel roads pretty soft and mushy. It was like riding through a really low rear tire, or as if you were dragging a brake. I was doing okay though, so I just kept pushing through it. Once I reached the corner of Sage Road and Big Rock Road, I took a quickie break to see how I was doing and to snap off a few quick photos. I felt okay, so I remounted and headed back up the mushy roadway.

So now the internal debate began. How far to go, would the rains develop again, and would I have the legs today to pull anything off? Maybe I would have to make an early left turn and cut the loop short? I wasn't really sure of anything, but I just kept turning over the cranks and thinking it all over.  The roads were not improving either. If anything, it was getting worse.

Cutting in....
I'd never seen these roads like this before. I've been out this way at all times of the year, and even during the Spring thaws, these roads hold up really well. However; the rains have been heavy and close together of late. The road way was saturated with water. The Vee Rubber 47mm tires were making that "wet mud" noise and I could look down at the front tire and see that it was wet. I was having troubles holding a line. I think it was the tires in combination with the wetter surface, which would allow the tire to cut in and that would grab the bike and send it off line a bit. Those Vee Rubber tires have an oddly crowned profile, which wasn't helping matters.

I was going slow enough that I ended up snapping off quite a few photos from the bike. It took my mind off from the grinding, heavy pressure of plowing through the soft road surface. Good thing the wind, what there was of it, was at my backside, or I may have gotten really cooked instead of slowly beat down. I got some satisfactory images out of it though, so that was a positive.

Still the internal debate was waged all along. I was trying to decided whether to go for the longer route, or to cut it short just as I hit a dead flat section that was about two miles in length. Apparently, due to the table flatness of the road, the water was not draining away, but was sitting there. It saturated the roadway and was like riding through a wet sponge.

 Maxfield School- One room German Schoolhouse 1881
In fact, it got downright muddy, and the gravelly goo was collecting on my fork and chain stays to the point that I was getting slowed down to a near halt. I tried to find more firm footing, but it was touch and go for a bit there. Like a B Maintenance road, this would have been better if I had walked it, maybe. Oh well, I slogged through and after the terrain got rolling again, the roads were better drained and not nearly as bad. It just about had me making a left turn at the county line though!

I didn't have to make that turn, which was nice, since the roads straightened up for me and actually were decent in Bremer County. Much better than in Black Hawk, so I decided to pull off the longer option after all. And I was glad that I did. the next four miles or so were all on roads I have not ridden before. As I turned left on 250th, I saw a church with a rather large cemetery and the headstones were large and ostentatious for a rural cemetery without a town at hand. I then noted an old, one room school house with a rather German influence on the signage. I later researched the location and found that it was a small settlement of German immigrants at one time named Maxfield. You just never know what you'll find off the beaten path in Iowa.

So, with all that gone by, I ended up joining the 3GR route of the last few weeks for a bit, as I entered Ivanhoe Road for a mile or so. Then I turned back South, into the wind, for the long stretch that would eventually become Burton Avenue in Black Hawk County.

  Gravel muck stuck on the BMC
But not before a few miles of big, steep rollers, mostly in Bremer County, that really were kicking my butt now. I somehow powered over these and survived to reach the flatter portions nearer to Waterloo, but by this time the wind was kicking up a bit more, right into my face.

I ended up having to pull off into a field entrance to have a bit of a "nature break", and noticed all the muck caked on the frame and underside of the clip on fender. This made me smile, as I was glad to have had that bit of plastic there to deflect what otherwise would have been plastered up my backside.

Back on board the bike now and to finish off the ride, I reached town to find that the bicycle path I had intended on taking was under water again due to the heavy rains. Hmm.... A bit of cross country and a connection to a nearby street solved the puzzle, but at the expense of my already taxed legs and lower back. Yep, and the previous night's celebrating was making it hard for me to eat or drink anything, so I was running on fumes by rides end.

Okay, I made it, but I was in a zombie-like thousand yard stare for most of the rest of Saturday, and still was feeling it yesterday as well. I did a little spin with my Son for Father's Day and that helped wake the legs back up again, but that 3GR was quite the ride! Combining poor pre-ride planning and tough conditions was not a good mix, but hey! Maybe I needed that to get stronger, eh? 

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