Monday, November 13, 2017

Single Speed 50

The Pofahl at the meeting place.
Last week I got a text message from Martin. ".....Would you be interested in a 40-ish mile ride Saturday?" I definitely was interested, and to boot, Martin was proposing to ride a single speed. In fact, it was a bike I used to own, an '07 Salsa Cycles El Mariachi.

We discussed via text what times and about a route. Martin sketched out a loop Eastward toward Independence Iowa because the winds were forecast from the Southeast and at a forecast upper 30's temperature, we didn't want a lot of headwinds. I liked the idea, because I hadn't been out that way previously. Lots of new-to-me roads, so I was very much game to go. It was decided we would ride at 11:00am from the old Waterloo 3GR meeting spot, a swimming pool parking lot on the Northeast side of Waterloo.

My Pofahl, now with the correct 180mm rotor (!!), has those new Donnelly MSO 50's on it and I set those up tubeless. I tried to accommodate for the cooler temperatures we would be riding in by airing up to 40psi rear/38psi front, realizing that after about 15 minutes I would be at something more in the mid-30's for psi. Then it was all about donning the garb to make it around the loop. Martin said it was about 45-46 miles, and I had about 3 miles to get to the meeting place, so I had to prepare for a good 50 miles of riding.

I wore thermal bib tights, an Omniwool base layer top which was long sleeved, a Twin Six Standard Wool jersey, short sleeved, and my Bontrager windproof jacket. On my head I wore my gifted Endspurt Hamburg liveried tube buff and my Bell Super helmet. On my hands I wore a thin base layer glove and Lycra Bontrager gloves over that. My feet were covered in long, calf high "Sock Guy" wool socks, a vapor barrier made from plastic grocery sacks, and 45NRTH Fasterkatt boots. Oh, I also used Spy Optic Daft glasses with tinted amber lenses.

Okay, on with the ride!

A farmer tills the land under sullen, grey skies
Martin showed up with the old El Mar, now sporting a stout 42 X 18T gear combo and the rest as I remembered it being. The notable feature here would be the voluminous Maxxis Ardent 2.4's, tubeless on Blunt 35 rims. More of a mountain bike set up, with gravel gearing! Martin wasn't spinning much! He was grinding it out and the initial miles featured some rollers which were not giving us any quarter. The gravel was the typical chunky goodness I'm used to, so that wasn't of any concern.

First stop: Rearranging some clothing and having a quick bite to eat.
The wind was a quartering headwind as we were headed out on a 12 mile stretch straight East. I wasn't cold, except for maybe the bottoms of my feet. Perhaps I will have to consider a thin insulating layer or a heavier sock next time I ride in conditions like this. I suppose the wind chill was well into the 20's. That's a bit under the recommended range for those Fasterkatts anyway. Any colder and those boots wouldn't have been a good choice anyway.

But beyond that we were making great time. Martin said later our average speed was 12.5mph, so we weren't slouching by any stretch. I didn't pack any gizmos or traditional computer for mileage or data gathering. Martin was using a Garmin device of some kind. He didn't have the route downloaded though and about a third of the way in to the route Martin handed me the cues and he verified turns by matching up the mileage on his Garmin. That kept both of us engaged in the navigation.

Eventually we reached the roads I was unfamiliar with. Big Rock Road all the way to Buchanan County, then some meandering as we negotiated the roads around the Wapsipinnicon River valley and the river itself was crossed at Littleton. Martin was hoping to route by a resupply spot in case we needed to warm up or get food and water. Neither was necessary, so we motored on through town and took a right to round the eastern side of the loop Martin had sketched out for us.

We had a running buddy for a little bit.
We hit this narrow, tree lined road South of Littleton. Surprisingly it had a lot of car traffic!
Headed back West now.
So, here we started going West again, but the wind had laid down, or wasn't really a factor, because we weren't feeling any effects of it anymore. Just as well as the cold temperatures would have felt worse with a stiff wind. Martin said at one point as we were going back that it was 38°F. With the gray skies, it certainly looked, and felt a lot colder than that!

The roads on the Eastern swing were really smooth and fast. The gravel was chewed up to be a lot finer and less deep. We were running right on the road bed in many places. It was certainly really dusty, and it was evident that we needed rain, or lots of snow over Winter. Ironically enough, it rained all night Saturday night, but on our ride the dust was about as bad as it gets. The cars passing us by left clouds of dust which were impenetrable as far as seeing through them. Thankfully what little wind was left blew it off the roadway rather nicely.

The miles were winding down and we were thinking about cutting off a bit of a Northward turn to make the ride a bit quicker. Martin was also feeling the effects of the tall gearing, and hills were getting more difficult for him. We had stopped for our last extended time at an old country church so I could get another cemetery gate pic for the album. This was the St. Francis cemetery on Airline Highway. I had ridden past it earlier in the year going North on the road near to the church, but I hadn't ridden right past it until the ride with Martin on Saturday. This stop gave us the chance to rearrange boittles and grab our last bits to eat before we made our final push.

The Pofahl looking a bit more dusty than it was in the beginning.
A giant erratic about the size of a small house poking out of the corn stubble.
The dust was incredible for late Fall/early Winter.
The rest of the ride went according to Martin's original plan. That was because we had to use the original route. Our planned short cut turned out to be impossible since Airline Highway didn't go all the way through. It was interrupted by a pesky field. So, we turned North and went to Big Rock Road anyway.

The rest of the route then was a retracing of our route going out. That was okay because all these roads I knew quite well after so many years of running around out there. The end was back at the parking lot where I decided to hitch a ride from there to the house since Martin was going that way and he offered to give me a lift. I already had 50 miles in, so I was good with skipping the last three.miles back to the house.

I was pretty pleased with the outcome of the ride. We didn't mess around, covering the entire loop in slightly less than four hours. I felt pretty good. I am happy with how I am coming back after being ill and off the bike for the better part of a month without any real long rides. Unfortunately, with the iffy weather at this point in the year, I may not get in that SS Century Ride I wanted to do. I am pretty sure I could take a stab at it soon, but me having the time and the weather lining up is getting tougher to have work out.

But that's okay if it doesn't happen. I'll keep working on things and next year I hope to be pushing more century rides and having fun. Till then, it might happen again this year, it might not. Trans Iowa v14 is calling too. Lots to do before 2017 closes out.


blooddoc23 said...

That's a great ride! Thanks for sharing that and for the pics. The erratic, is that a giant boulder in the picture? So that was maybe deposited by glacial ice? If so that's pretty cool.

Guitar Ted said...

@!Robert Ellis- Thanks!! Yes- that would be a relic from glacial ages. We have lots of them around here.