Thursday, March 12, 2015

Early Spring Ramble

Big sky, clear roads, and warmer temps mean gravel grinding!
It was a day off work, and the Sun was set to shine brightly. I had a morning free from errands, so I snuck in another gravel ride of about two hours length. It could have been longer, but I decided to give it an hour or so to warm up, as the temperatures at dawn were just below freezing at 30°F. I didn't want to layer up for that and then be having to shed layers by 10:00am and be all sweaty. A compromise, to be sure, but I decided it was worth it. I ended up setting off a little before 10:00am, and by then it was 36°F, which doesn't sound like much of a difference, but the temperatures by that time were actually rising more quickly than they had in the few hours before that.

I also decided that to expedite things, I would drive to the edge of town, rather than ride, as I often do, which was a time saving measure based upon my need to be somewhere shortly afternoon. It worked out too, but it isn't my preference to drive to get out of town when I go for the gravel roads.

The snow is almost completely gone now. Just a few remnants of drifts here and there. 
The Bremer-Black Hawk county border road (Right to Left here), looking up to Bremer County. The roads were still soft and wet in spots. 
Wood "palettes" used to carry construction equipment into the fields
I came upon a stack of odd looking material along a newly built high tension electric line carried by steel towers. The line cut across the half mile mark of a section. I went in for a closer look-see. When I got closer I could see that these were stacks of wood palettes that weren't built like those for shipping. These were constructed in layers and were wide and looked heavy. Then I figured out what was going on. These palettes are layed end to end to create a makeshift roadway for the construction equipment to get across the soft, muddy soil of the farmer's fields to access the construction sites for the towers. You can see how the weight of the trucks and gear flattened the dirt after the palettes were pulled up and created a dirt highway across this section of land. (See the image to the left)

Mystery solved to my satisfaction, I took off again to the North into a pretty stiff Northeast wind. The road was recovering from being saturated, but there were plenty of places where it was like riding through cookie dough or slicing into a thick sand pile. It was hard at times to even see the difference between soft and hard parts of the road. At other times it was plain as day. North South roads were better than East West roads were, just as it was this past weekend. Through it all, the Nano 40 TCS tires were very smooth. These tires have a very damped feel, and roll very well in the tough, rock strewn roads of rural Iowa.

Going back South with the wind at my back. The roads were great here for a while.
Bennington #3 School survived another Winter. One of decades worth of Winters. 
The "Big Rock" rest stop.
Going back South at the County Line after a jog over to Sage Road meant I had the wind at my back and speeds increased accordingly. I needed to get my move on because I had that appointment and it was 11:00am already. So, I jammed on the big ring and the miles flew by.

I did stop for a bit of personal business at "The Big Rock" of Big Rock Road. (To be revealed at a later date, and not what you might think it was! ) That didn't take long, and then I was flying Southward again. I ended up coming across the County maintainer and a dump truck off in the distance on the mile section of road I needed to take Westward. I was sure hoping I wouldn't need to make a detour! That would have cut way into my time.

Fortunately I saw that they were patching a soft road with fresh dump truck loads of gravel and grading it out. I waved at the maintainer as I passed carefully by on the far right edge of the roadway. The gravel was very deep, but it wasn't too bad with the Nano 40 tubeless tires. The bike was stable despite the higher rolling resistance of the deep gravel.  I did make it back on time as well. Even though I had a bit of slow going there.

So, a good little jaunt out in early Spring weather. A great experience so far with the Nano 40 tubeless tires, an okay experience with the Gary Sweep OS bars, and a so-so experience with the Gevenalle GX shifters. Hey.......two outta three ain't bad.

1 comment:

MG said...

I look forward to trying those 40c Nanos at some point. I love the tubeless performance of their TCS tires, and after having a non-tubeless tire blow off the rim running tubeless recently, I'm ready for tubeless-ready gravel tires.