Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Country Views: Clear Skies

Escape Route: The old way to work.
 Smoke from Canadian wildfires snuffed out any thughts of gravel travel during the weekend, but Monday the air was forecast to clear up and it was supposed to be a beautiful day. And all of that was true. So, I had a bit of a window on Monday morning to get in a ride. 

Since the winds were out of the Northwest, I headed West from the G-Ted HQ and took "the old way" to work, a way I know from where I am at to get to Cedar Falls. It's all back streets, field crossings, alleys, and bike paths. This got me to downtown Cedar Falls and then out of there to the North on more bike paths. 

Urban turkeys seen along a section of Grand Boulevard.

This section of Cedar Falls alley used to be gravel. Now it's all "bougie".

I used my old commuter route to Andy's Bike Shop from when I used to work there. Then after reaching that spot of downtown Cedar Falls, it was all bicycle path to get to Big Woods Road and an escape from the city. 

I picked up the bike path here not far from where Andy's Bike shop used to be.

Area 51?

Eventually I made it out into the country, but due to some pavement work over the past few years, it would be a mile further now to get to gravel than it used to take. Symons Road, which used to be gravel, is all chip seal now. (Insert sad face) 

Symons Road used to be cool. Now its just another boring mile of pavement with fast traffic.

Mt. Vernon Road: At least the county hasn't mucked this Western section of this road up.

Gravel was reached, eventually, when I turned East on to Mt. Vernon Road. I love this Western section of this gravel road as it has some decent tree cover and it has some nice rolling hills. It didn't hurt that this was the best gravel I've ridden in probably two years. 

Turns out that getting regular rains at nice intervals helps with gravel road conditions. I haven't seen clear tire track sections in gravel roads for a long time, but I did see that today. Nice! Especially after riding a year and a half of gravel chunder. 

You can maybe discern vestiges of that wildfire smoke in some of the images here.

A place that sells grain elevators at the corner of Mt. Vernon and Streeter Roads.

Heading East I was met with one roller after another. One of the climbs clocked in at least at a mile here. It was a true "grinder" of a climb. But I was feeling good and moving along just fine on this day. I was just overjoyed to be able to ride without inhaling tons of smoke. 

It wasn't all that windy and the dust had been settled for the most part by recent rains. It was as good a ride as I've had in a long time. Great roads, good weather, and the Noble Bikes GX5 was spot on. These days sure don't come around all that often, especially in mid-July when it usually is beastly hot and humid. I barely sweat on this ride since the air was so dry. 

Super-happy that I got out for this one. It may have been short-ish, but it was a great ride nonetheless.


NY Roll said...

I think Symons went to Chipseal in 2020 or 2021. Around 2018 a few houses would do it in front of their houses. I think the side private lane communities increased the traffic enough for the county or township to justify the improvement.

Jon Bakker said...

Great ride, Guitar Ted! Recent rains have done wonders for the gravel here in rural central Michigan, too.

I have a question for you, and you if you think it's worth a post or discussion on the podcast, I don't need an answer right away. I get to travel for a few weeks for a mix of vacation and a work convention. Have you ever done any traveling where you rented/borrowed a bike for a few weeks in your destination? What did you pack for the trip? How do you handle laundry for cycling gear while living out of a suitcase? If you don't know any cyclists where you are going and don't have an event with a given route, how do you plan rides in strange places, accounting for safety and the ability to bail if you need to? Would the tools/supplies you carry change for that compared to riding at home on your known routes? Again, I don't need any answer any time soon (or ever, really - it's your blog, so your call! :-) ), but I'd be interested in your thoughts because you have a whole lot more experience with riding than most. Thanks, as always!

hank said...

G-Ted, Howdy;
Don't think you weren't sweating. It was just evaporating as fast as it popped out.
I live near Hatch, NM and am a heavy sweater. I don't notice any, until I get indoors
in some a/c or cooler air and then it's like the faucet gets turned on.
Keep on drinking your water/sports drink.