Monday, March 18, 2019

Adventure Ride: Frozen Version

The streets of Waterloo were quiet Saturday morning.
N.Y. Roll had proposed a ride to recon a "dive bar" ride he was planning and asked if I was interested in coming along. Now it was forecast to be in the 20's Saturday morning when we were to leave, but there was supposed to be little wind. I agreed to go, hoping against hope we would be warm enough to make the jaunt enjoyable. That added with the snow melt, which was sure to be hardened ice Saturday, made bike choice critical.

I thought about throwing on the 45NRTH Gravdal studded tires, or maybe taking the Fargo with a wider mtb tire mounted, but then I remembered that I had to get to riding those WTB Venture 650B X 47mm tires I am reviewing. That would probably work, so I looked over the Black Mountain Cycles MCD- otherwise known here as The Bubblegum Princess- and went to sleep Friday with the alarm set to be ready to ride by 8:00am.

Of course, I was up and ready roll by 7:00am! I was fiddling around and thought I should text N.Y. Roll when I heard my phone ping. Wow! Telepathy is a thing, apparently! Anyway, I told him I was ready anytime he was, so he moved up the start time to 7:30am and when he arrived at the house here, we took off.

Early navigational issues. Apparently GPS units don't like the cold.
As we slow rolled through downtown Waterloo, I felt the bite of the crisp air on my ears and cheeks. Good thing I decided to swap out to Winter gloves! It was 27° and when we were moving, it was chilly! At least the downtown streets were clear of run-off ice, so we had no problems moving along.

N.Y. Roll's route connected several "dive bars" in the area. Basically these are run down buildings which house neighborhood bars that have been in existence for years. The first was near a famous restaurant in Waterloo called the DK Hickory House. It is a rib joint, but if you ever saw the exterior, you'd not believe it was a restaurant, first off, and you'd likely have a harder time believing it was once a famous place where many celebrities of the past would come to eat. Anyway, the "Park Road Inn" was right across the street from this joint and once we got un-turned around with directions, we found it and we were off to find the next "dive bar".

The next section of riding basically was taking us East through the Northern edge of Waterloo. Apparently the next bar was in Raymond and it would be several miles before we got there on paved roads. These residential streets N.Y. Roll chose to get us there were sometimes a bit sketchy with run-off ice, especially in the corners, so I was taking great care so as not to go down hard and screw myself up.

Looking back at Waterloo, we saw this flooded field with hundreds of Canadian geese. 
Anywhere near the Cedar River was flooded. Recent run-off has swollen many Mid-West creeks and rivers beyond capacity.
Once we broke free from the city proper we were greeted with the rising Sun in our faces and warming air. Well.......slight warming of air, really. It was still pretty chill and my sock choice was not on point. My tootsies were frozen by this time into the ride, but I pedaled onward despite that. The road was lined with frozen flood waters from the run-off of snow melt. These are typical areas to see flooding happen, so we weren't getting the disastrous floods like they are in Nebraska. Still, it was impressive to see just how much water was covering the flood plains.

N.Y. Roll enjoys the morning Sun as we ride the frozen shoulder coming into Raymond.
Eventually we were obliged to turn onto a fairly well used County road. Fortunately the pea graveled shoulder was smooth and frozen. It was as easy to ride as pavement. This took us into Raymond eventually and our next "dive bar" location was identified. Then it was straight on to the South to Gilbertville and the next bar location.

We stayed on the shoulder, only here it was on a strip about a foot, maybe slightly wider, of paved road on the right side of the "white line". Cars were giving us a full lane as they passed and we did not experience any close calls except for one where three cars met going opposite directions right as they passed by us. So we were all within close proximity of each other there, but no harm- no foul.

The Cedar River bridge at Gilbertville.
The first stretch of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail we tried wasn't too bad.
We made it through Gilbertville okay, but then N.Y. Roll wanted to go "off-route" and recon the CVNT (Cedar Valley Nature Trail). I figured it would be a complete waste of our time, but hey! This was an adventure ride, so...... The trail didn't look awful after we passed the depot, where it was mostly iced up due to pedestrians. We started out and N.Y. Roll promised me that if it got too bad we'd bail out at a gravel road intersection ahead.

Out on gravel! (Well......mostly dirt!) The frozen ruts were......interesting.
The trail conditions quickly deteriorated into a hard coat of frozen snow and glare ice from snowmobile traffic. I hen-pecked my way along while N.Y. Roll walked away from me with his wider, more voluminous mtb tire set up. We finally reached the promised gravel road turn off and made our way Northwestward, more or less, keeping to the CVNT as much as possible. After a few miles of gravel we were obliged to hop back on the CVNT and it was wild! The snow was much deeper here and frozen with soaked in rain which we had fall on the area earlier in the week.

If you look closely you can make out the herd of deer we saw.
Hike-a-bike for me, but N.Y. Roll cleaned most of this on his 2.25"ers.
The snow was rideable at times for me. I was amazed at how I could claw my way through at times. But there just wasn't enough "float" with 47mm of tire and N.Y. Roll walked away from me on his 29 X 2.25"s. At one point my front tire punched through a drift up to the hub! That was funny. I ended up walking a fair amount of this section.

A guy then rolled up on me riding an ancient Honda three wheeled ATV. He was amiable, and smiled at me as he started up a conversation with me. Apparently he had tried to keep this part of the trail clear with a truck and plow, but the blizzard a few weeks ago was just too much for him and his truck. He also stated that he had been busy fighting flood waters on his property and was out this morning to check on the angry Cedar River, to see if there were any ice jams.

Eventually we ended up on the bridge over the Cedar. All three of us peered at the turbulent waters rushing by. Finally the nice man bid us farewell and we turned our eyes toward Evansdale and the next "dive bar". We didn't have far to go, and once we found it, the next came fairly soon after. That was our cue to hit the recreational trail out of Evansdale toward Waterloo.
It may look peaceful, but it was anything but. The Cedar was forcast to crest later in the day Saturday.
Headed out of Evansdale on the recreational bike trail to Waterloo.
N.Y. Roll made a suggestion to stop at Rockets Bakery in downtown Waterloo for coffee. I was excited to do that, and when we got there we were greeted by a young lady behind the counter that thought it was funny that I was riding a pink bike while N.Y. Roll was wearing a pink helmet. I suppose that did look odd. Anyway, the coffee was excellent, and my stool, which had been sitting in the Sunshine, felt like a heated car seat after all that chilly riding. That made me think- are there any heated bicycle saddles? 

Coffee slurped, we remounted and headed back home. An excellent morning on the bike! I hit pavement, gravel, dirt, snow, and ice, all on the same ride. That's what I call "multi-terrain" riding, right there!

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