Thursday, June 20, 2019

Country Views: Something Green- Something Strange

This is not a Level B Maintenance road- It's Airline Highway, which is usually gravel.
Heading out into a mostly cloudy, cool-ish day, I found the wind was out of the Northeast. Well, it was hard to say, really. More East than North, I guess. There were puddles of standing water everywhere, and many places were found where the gravel was wet enough that it caked up on tires and plastered the down tube of the bike.

Ruts were everywhere. The roads looked really torn up. It was a handful at times just trying to find the good line. In some places I actually had to slow down and weave my way through the messed up road way. I kept looking at the darkening skies, thinking that a cold, East driven rain could break out at any point.

The above two paragraphs don't sound like anything I should be writing in mid-June, do they? No, they sound more like a Trans Iowa race report, or some blogpost I put up in March. But no- that's actually what it was like Wednesday, June 19th, 2019. It was weird, what with the crops all emerging and things looking like Summer in the fields, but the roads said, "It's still Spring!".

Of course, the rains we have had of late have kept the roads saturated, the late Spring/early Summer planting has conspired along with that to keep roads torn up, and lack of heat and humidity here have kept things loose and sand-like. Now the dirt is working its way through the old limestone and many roads look like minimum maintenance roads, not at all like a gravel road should look like.

These pretty ditch flowers at least made it look like Summer.
The corn is barely canopying here. Most fields are not canopied yet. Growth is way behind normal.
With that aforementioned Northeasterly breeze I decided to head North up Sage Road and while I had grand plans, I figured wearing myself out a few days before I was to ride a century wasn't a good idea. Just a good ride to open up the legs, and so I kept it chill. The softer roads and headwind going out were bad enough as it was.

Barns for Jason
Long stretches of torn up, slightly wet, muddy dirt roads were the replacement for the typical gravel in many spots.
I rode the Noble Bikes GX5 carbon gravel bike with that Force 1X stuff. This was a far better experience than the first go-round with Force 1X. I think this drive train is okay, but it still is slower, has bigger gaps between gears, and that SRAM shifting is for the birds. I'm still not convinced that my set up is sub-par, or that 1X is the way to go. But to each their own. This system hasn't let me down, and it does work okay. So.......there's that. 

Coming back I thought it looked a lot like I might get wet. I didn't. 
Schenk Road is a good one for barns and smaller farms.
I headed back via Schenk Road, which is the road I would take a gravel noob on for their first gravel ride. It is relatively flat, has tons of character, and lots of things to look at. The Northern stretch of it was heinous though. Really badly torn up and mostly dirt. Then it metamorphosed into the nicest plain ol' gravel road you could ask for. It was a great respite from the absolute mess of roadways I had been on.

Barns for Jason- Part 2
My last few miles were east and boy! Was that fun. The roads were very surprising as I had been up this way a couple of weeks ago and it wasn't anything like the way it was Wednesday. Then as I rode the last mile into town, I saw it. A grain truck as big as a dump truck. These heavy, dually equipped trucks and semi-tractor trailers are really what is tearing up the roads.

Anyway, it was a great ride leading up to the Solstice 100 Saturday. I'm looking forward to hooking up with MG and getting some Nebraska gravel under my wheels again.

No comments: