Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Brown Season: Just A Taste

Escape Route: Shaulis Road Bike Path
 The snow we had melted. Almost totally. Then it got warmer. And by Monday, it was in the low 50's, which is weird for February, but even more so because this happened in the first half of the month. 

This day was made even more unusual due to the fact that it was a blue-bird day with zero clouds to be seen. And even more so due to the calm winds. I mean, what a weird day! So, yeah, this is something you make a way for when you've got a chance at riding. And, I did just that- make a way, that is, and I rode. 

Not too much though! This was the first time I'd been out in the country since that aborted attempt about a month ago. This time the roads were perfect. So there was no turning back. I used the Raleigh Tamland since it has fenders on it. You never know when you'll need them this time of the year, and as it turned out, I was glad I had them on. 

This time I went South instead of North, leaving from Prairie Grove Park on a little test loop I have done many times, only this time I did it backward from my usual clockwise route. The parking lot, which is gravel, was a soaking, sloppy mess. I had heard that the gravel was in perfect shape though, so visions of sinking into the gravel remained just that- visions. 

"Hero" gravel conditions- A far cry from what most of 2022 was down this way.

In fact, those I had heard from concerning the condition of the gravel roads around here were right. It was fast, smooth, and comfortable. Nothing like most of last year which, in my opinion, was the most brutal year of riding conditions ever down South of the city. 

The drifts are not very impressive this year.

We've only really had a few big dumps of snow, and then in between we've had melts and this has limited the size of the snow drifts in the ditches. Places that usually impress were only mildly interesting this year. This is also reflected in the roads, which are very dry, dusty, and if there is any frost in the ground yet, I'd be very surprised. 

Smoother than pavement!
The size and scale of some of Iowa's grain bins is almost comical. 

I found it very unusual that there were no dogs out. A nice day, little to no traffic about, and no dogs is weird. But, I'll take it! Dogs are not used to seeing us on bicycles and even less so in Winter. I did think I saw a Bald Eagle though. It was backlit by the Sun, so I only can guess as to its identity by its size. It was much larger than your typical hawk and not as "heavy" looking in the body, which Red Tailed Hawks around here are. 

Yeah....not too impressive here either.

It was great to get out, and my wool base layer, long sleeved wool jersey, and wind vest were almost too warm on this day. Of course, coming from bone-chilling below zero temperatures up to the 50's is a shock to the system. That's always going to feel warm when you are acclimated to being cold. 

And now things are set to change in a hurry. It is mid-February after all, and by the time you read this, we're probably going to be under another blanket of snow again. 

Oh well!


Jon Bakker said...

Great ride, GT! It's been such a weird winter here in MI, too - overall warmer than normal, and the greatest amount of our precipitation has fallen in the form of rain during those days with above freezing temps. Snow-fatbiking has been hit or miss, and the moisture has made for some pretty damp and soft ground everywhere, so the cycling conditions have been bad. Where I am in mid-MI, there's no frost in the ground, too. But it's February, and that means we could still get quite a bit of cold and snow for at least another month, so we'll see. Some snow predicted for tomorrow, but I've about given up hope for a nicely groomed fatbike trail to ride locally this winter. There's always next year, though!

Guitar Ted said...

@Jon Bakker - Yeah, and yesterday it rained here ALL DAY! Today is a windy day and tomorrow we're supposedly getting 4"-6" of wet snow. Then a cold day and after that?

Back above freezing.

Winter has been mostly a bust here, but we did get about three weeks of good fat biking weather. Can't complain too much!

DT said...

I've seen a few eagles while out riding here in WNY, and the thing that always stands out to me in the head and tail feathers. They are so (almost unnaturally) bright white that they almost glow! But yeah, they fly like a hawk but they're the size of a turkey vulture. Birding is definitely a hobby that could go along pretty well with gravel riding.