Monday, February 09, 2009

A weekend on the bike

You can hardly complain when the temps top 50 and 60 degrees during the first week of February. I made sure to pay homage to the nice weather and did my best to enjoy it thoroughly. I bolted out of work a shade after 3 on Friday just to make the most of it. After Thursday's snowshoe through Denman's I was pretty sure the trail could/should/would be ridden so I packed the mountain bike along for the ride Friday morning. After hanging at the shop for a few minutes I set my sails towards the woods in search of my most excellent adventure.

Before long I was churning my way through a mixture of slush, ice, water over ice, mud, and about every other type of undesirable surface you can think of on the trail. Thankfully, the mud was limited to very few spots and mostly around Little Italy. While the slush was rideable, it didn't leave much for traction so I still had to hike a few little spots, but mostly I rode. It took me around 45 minutes total to traverse the trail.

Now done with the hard part, I was wondering which route to head. Apparently I thought I must have gotten cheated out of something on Wednesday nights ride as I headed off to do somewhat of a reverse of that loop. Actually, I was trying to figure out someplace to ride to and get dinner and a beer. I ended up settling on El Ray over on Grand which actually meant I'd be riding the entire loop before hitting dinner. So, I better get moving. The first misstep came when I headed up the trestle to trestle trail. I was heading over to Johnston in hopes of looping through Urbandale and then back down the Windsor Heights trails. I completely forgot about T2T being built up with mud due to the floods of last summer. 10' into the mud, my memory was quickly jogged as my drivetrain clogged and drug me to a stop. I doubled back trying to keep as much mud off of me as possible and took surface streets over to Beaver and jumping back on the trail.

The rest of the loop was less exciting, but still interesting in its own right. Urbandale sucks for not plowing their trails! I jumped back off them quickly and hit city streets again. Then back on the trail the melting led to some interesting conditions. Low spots were dominated by 6-8" deep puddles that were punctuated with large ice chunks and/or on top of sheet ice. It made for a few puckering moments to say the least. 3 hours down and I made my well to El Ray for the burrito and beer recovery food group. MMMMM.

I started off Saturday with my mind set on a nice easy 2 hour spin. I had to be back at the house by 9 so I was off nice and early. Most everything was still thawed out from the warm temps and I took the cross bike as a respite from the heavy resistance of studs and knobs. Off towards Carlisle and ultimately Summerset park I headed. The sun was coming up and made for some very welcome warmth on my face along with setting a few nice pics.

I wondered if they even plowed the Summerset trail when I took off. Even these guys out in the sticks apparently know that you should plow trails (hint Urbandale). Unfortunately, not far outside of Carlisle the trail crowns pretty heavily to both sides leaving a lot of missed patches with ice build-up. After dodging a few and a runner informing me it only got worse down the trail, I opted for the gravel. The gravel was actually in almost perfect condition. As I got to the park, my options were to turn back or suffer some hills and loop back through Norwalk. At this point I decided I might as well hit it hard and see what popped. Funny enough, my legs popped about halfway through the rollers headed to the West. I barely made it home in time, but another 2 hours and 30 miles were down for the count as I hit the showers and headed off to our appointment.
A ride was called up for Sunday morning with most of the usual suspects- Pete, Pig, and Kunze. The weather was a bit of a concern due to the refreeze on the road, but we opted for a couple hours of good endurance riding on the cross bikes. Almost an exact repeat of last Sunday, we rolled 63rd to the Maffit loop, but extended our sojourn through the housing development as we dodged icy spots. I'm not sure where Kunze and Pig ended up, but Pete and I opted for 3 loops of the Ritual Ride route before rolling back down Railroad to our starting point. I was pretty trashed with just over 2 more hours on my legs and the heaviest of the efforts for the weekend.
All in all, 7 hours was great on the bike. I can start feeling the fitness a little more with each ride and getting outside just makes it so much better. Hopefully the warming trend keeps up (though I wouldn't mind a quick snow dump to get one more snowshoe session in). I just need to start cranking up a few longer rides now. I hear the Winterset loop calling my name and will be hitting it one of these weekends very soon.

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