Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Slop Season Begins

Riding just after ice-out and before the frost comes up puts you in weird places.
The snow is on the run, and even if we do get dusted again with the white stuff, it ain't lasting long anymore. Eventually the Sun wins out, and Spring will get here. Spring fever has already taken hold of residents here as we hit the 50's today- nearly 60- and motorcycles came out along with lots of folks just hungry to experience warmer temperatures, be that on bikes, walking, or whatever.

Bicycling during this time in the Mid-West is tricky. Off road trails are, for the most part, off limits for quite a while yet. Paved trails are hit and miss. Under the overpasses and under bridges there are still a lot of icy and snowy patches. Tree lined trails will take a while to clear off. Roads are mostly cleared, but pot holes are appearing like zits on a teenager's face before prom now, so it is pretty sketchy. Add in the left over detritus of sand and other Winter trash and it can be a minefield for a road bike.

Gravel can be good, or it can be peanut butter mud, or both on the same ride. Frost heaves are likely, and those weeping muddy patches will start appearing like bleeding scars running down the limestone veins of Iowa. In the meantime, you'd better have yer mud guards, (fenders to us Yankees), on, because the slop is everywhere and keeping dry is tantamount to keeping warm now.

Then there is the challenge of what to wear. Starting out in the morning you may have booties or Winter footwear on, a wind breaker, a wool jersey, and some decent gloves. By noon you might be looking for a place to stash that stuff because you might be frying inside those layers. The wind might make this even more tricky to gauge. Oh yes........there will be lots of wind. 

But give me a bike and an open gravel road. I'm ready no matter how sloppy and difficult it might be. 


Ari said...

Who makes those high quality alloy fenders you were talking about once? Was it Axiom? Ari

Guitar Ted said...

@Ari- That would be Planet Bike. The Cascadia ALX models.

Michael said...

Mostly I'm riding on snow and ice free surfaces, but there's still some icy bits lurking around ready to send you for a spin. I'm thinking one more week of studded tires.

Steve Fuller said...

I was in short sleeves, bibs, and some knickers after work yesterday starting around 5 PM. I also saw people in full tights, shoe covers, windbreakers, and balaclavas. :)

This is the time of year where a full frame bag or a small seat bag comes in handy to store all of those various layers. Full zippers on everything to regulate heat is a huge help too.