I Pity The Fool!

I rode my last century of the year yesterday. I promise. It was a nice bookend to the season of centuries. The first gravel century for me was at the Dirty Kanza where three of us kicked one out in six hours. We were flying. Yesterday I was alone and I was not flying. We had gotten six inches of snow the day before and the paved roads were sloppy. The gravel roads were not, they were snow and ice. I bet I did not ride even five miles of dirt. Maybe not even one.

I left early in the morning and the temperature was twenty-something. I had no plan on where to ride and first turned north. The roads in town were in terrible shape and the cemetery I rode through had not been plowed at all. Slow going. Conditions improved on the edge of town and I was making good time. The first gravel road was hard pack snow and some ice. It was surprisingly fast. I took a nice loop up near Solon and then went out East for some exploring.

I got off track and wound up on the pavement of one of our regular road training rides near the Cedar River. I followed the road a bit and found gravel again, about 30 miles into the ride now. This road was a mess. It looked as if it had only seen tractor traffic and it was soft and drifted. I had switched my gear on the Bridgestone to 34X17

Lookit That Mud Flap!

anticipating some slow sections and was able to keep moving, but just barely at times. The first climb had my computer telling me 4.5 mph! I was happy that I was able to stay on the bike but I started to worry about being able to go the distance on this day.

Eventually the road improved and I rolled into West Branch for the usual break with just over 40 miles done. Some loud mouth asked me if I had wrecked much today. Nope, I said, lots of slipping and sliding but no carnage. He laughed and walked off to his warm truck. I rode away and just two miles later biffed it. Crud. I turned South and again the road was in bad shape. Better than the tractor road but soft snow and many drifts. Plodded along, had to clear the road to let a road grater by and in its wake I found decent road surface but still not fast.

I was trying to avoid all B roads, which led me to some silly route making between West Branch and Lone Tree. I tried to go to Hills but many roads only connect with a B section or (even worse) pavement so I weaved around and doubled back on myself and got no closer to any stores of convenience but I did finally get that dratted computer to tell me I had ridden 60 miles. I started to believe I could make it then. I was some miles Northeast of Lone Tree and decided to take one more trip over the tri-county bridge and then head for home.

The road to the bridge was sketchy, lots of parallel grooves in the hard pack snow and slick, too. It kept me paying attention and I almost crashed a couple of times but it was fast. I crossed the bridge and into another world, the worst road I had encountered so far. Deep snow and just a couple of truck tire tracks. This road has a few curves and it was really hard to keep the bike from sliding sideways. It kicked around a lot, my speed was slow and I had to stop a few times to switch tracks, get out of snow banks, pick myself up after crashing and such. I was thinking this section to Riverside might never get better and would take me an hour. Not to worry, the next turn found me on another road and it was in better shape.

The bank clock in Riverside told me it was a balmy 25 degrees. Took a short break and watched an old man in an old car miss his turn completely and ram his boat into a snowdrift with a telephone pole sticking out of the middle. Not to worry, he took a moment to think and then floored the accelerator. As I rolled out of town his tires were still spinning like mad on the wet pavement, going to push through that snow and mow down that telephone pole I suppose. Scary…

The roads between Riverside and Hills were in good shape and for once I did not need to wend around all over to get mileage so I bee lined it. Hit the pavement over to Sand Road and turned for home. I saw a group of three jolly men on mountain bikes roll out of a B road and we had a wave, they looked like they were having much more fun than me. I turned off on gravel and rode gravel into town. 104.97 miles covered! I have

ridden further in colder temps but always on pavement. That was a tough ride.

There you have it, twelve gravel centuries in 2007. I rode two in one day in May at the Dirty Kanza, one in August, three in September, one of them on my single speed townie, four in November and two in December on my Bridgestone single speed.

I am glad it is done and I am glad to have stuck it out. I look forward to taking that computer off my bike and putting it back in the box it usually lives in. I am looking forward to more “fluid” rides that don’t take all day. I am looking forward to getting my dirt cup. I hope it doesn’t really have dirt in it, I would really just like a cup of coffee.

As the cup creator would say, Peace!


7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Ari said,

    congrats to you and have a happy new year. Today we got out with my wife and did 25 miles out in the country.
    Keep well,

  2. 2

    great stuff steve. robin and i have been eagerly following along from sunny arizona. we’ve been dealing with dirt and dust and horse corrals, but no snow and only one bike ride. we’ll have to get some coffee and go skiing when we get back into town in early january. until then, enjoy the off-season.

  3. 3

    do you realize, mr. pickle, that in just eleven days of riding, you rode more than many–most?–folks who “train” for the ragby?

    is your completion of this task really just a slap in the face of all those fun-loving, beer-drinking “bicyclists” and their “low-mileage” school of bicycle training?

    is your next feat to ride another ragby–in FEBRAURY???

    you guys have a happy new year. be careful, it’s amateur night.

  4. 4

    ari said,

    Tomorrow I will be serving at the restaurant and will try to control the over-consumption
    of alcohol. I don’t mind people drinking but what bugs me is that then they get in the
    car and drive away. Around here many a roadblocks tomorrow. Everyone be safe and
    watch for drunk drivers, specially if on the bike.

  5. 5

    Jay said,

    Congrats, Steve!

  6. 6

    […] shows here and there.  The last time they were here I missed it because I had made a commitment to ride 100 miles in the snow the next day and I thought rock and or roll would hurt my chances of success.  So I […]

  7. 7

    […] poor old friend was put in the back of the shed after the last 2 snowy hundies of the cup o’ dirt saga of 2007 and was plenty rusty and corroded, but it was nothing a new chain, new headset, new hub […]

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