2014-06-21 08.54.21

Humidity

If there’s one thing that will wear on my patience after a while, it’s humidity. There’s something about being damp that eventually makes me want to crawl into the chest freezer in the basement–or move to the high desert. Maybe it’s all of the body hair (thought my beard seems to like it…go figure).

And we’ve had more than our usual share of the damp stuff lately. With more than twice the usual rainfall for June and a stagnant mass of warm, humid air camped out over the Midwest, there’s nothing right now that’s not a bit damp, if not downright sodden.

With the warmth and the dampth (a new word?), I figured I should get out early if I was going to get out riding at all this weekend. So I took off alone for a road ride (but then most of my rides are road rides, aren’t they?) early on Saturday morning, when it was so foggy that I needed to run my lights just to not get run over on the way out of town. But I do love riding in the fog.

Headed east into the rolling farmland, stopped for coffee, and took a brief pause at my parents’ house on the way back into town.

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Even though my mind still seems stuck in the doldrums, my legs seem fine: 50 miles at 18.1mph on the Soma ES still running 35mm Clement USHs. Not bad at all.

But then I spent nearly all day Sunday just laying around the house (both metaphorically and sometimes literally).

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Both.

The Blahs

For some reason, this time of year almost always brings on a case of the cycling blahs. The spring events are over, it’s starting to get hot and buggy, and there’s often not much planned for the middle of the summer. To make matters worse, there were plans for this summer that have since evaporated.

Right now, I’m consoling myself with bikepacking videos.

This first batch comes from Ian Barrington, and just serve to emphasize that I should move to Wales. Or Scotland. Or both.

And then another one from Wales…

And finally, one by a group of Canadians in the American south…

And in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik:

 

Nothin'

Summer. Bike. Weekend.

This past weekend was near-perfect–the way a summer weekend should be: cold beer, homemade pizza, touring with my wife, hot coffee, more cold beer, a few cocktails, a spirited road ride, a massive plate of nachos, iced coffee, and a good deal of relaxation.

The End of an Era

Some time in early 2011, I was sitting on a barstool at Alchemy having already downed a few pints of nitro-charged Night Train. My wife got up to use the restroom and I took out my phone to pass the time. I ended up putting in a bid on a bike on eBay. Then she came back and we drank a couple more pints and went home.

And I forgot entirely about the bid I’d entered — until I got the “you’ve won–pay up” notice from eBay a couple of weeks later. A week or so after that,  a Surly Karate Monkey turned up at my door, having been shipped from somewhere in Indiana. Sometime in the first year, it earned its nickname: The Albatross.

It’s gone through a number of incarnations. Four different handlebars, four different wheelsets (geared, singlespeed, IGH, and fixed), four different sets of tires (WTB Vulpine, Clement MSO, Schwalbe Big Apple, Schwalbe Marathon Winter), a few sets of pedals, a couple of saddles, two different cranksets, and has used disc brakes, cantilevers, and V-brakes.

It’s also been around the block a few times–and around the Midwest: Trans Iowa v9, Almanzo 100 (2011 and 2013), Dairy Roubaix (2013), and the first Powderhorn 24–as well as a number of gravel road missions in northeastern Wisconsin, long training rides from home, and rail-trail jaunts on the Badger State Trail, the Military Ride Trail, and the Glacial Drumlin Trail. It’s been ridden in every season, and just about every condition–and been so dirty that I’ve had to pull it completely apart at least three times just to get it clean again.

It wasn’t the perfect bike–but it was a good bike–and it was one of those bikes that hangs around and takes a beating. But I wasn’t riding it much–and with any bike I’m not riding much, it started to look like money I could use to fund another bike project.

Now it will be a good bike for someone else, since I sold it yesterday (along with one of its other wheelsets) to someone, oddly enough, from Indiana.

Riding to the ride (or at least home)

Now and again — mainly in the spring, but also sometimes in the summer and fall — I like to ride organized events. Some people call these events races though I certainly can’t be said to race them; instead, I try to ride them and have a particular kind of fun–that is, bike fun.*

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And even though I live in a city with a great many cyclists and a certain number of events, few — if any — of the local events catch my imagination.** This means that to ride the events that I want to ride, I end up either driving a rental car (we don’t own one and haven’t for more than 7 years) or riding with someone else to get there. This often means that I’ll end up spending as much time in the car as I did riding the event (not to mention nights in hotels, and the like).

This all strikes me as silly. It strikes me as even more silly when I read Jan Heine’s account of riding the Oregon Outback, and then riding home.

Originally, this made me think that I should just stop bothering with events entirely, and go for rides from home. And then I realized that there was no reason that I couldn’t — at least some of the time — do both. As a university employee, I have a substantial amount of vacation time. And, there’s often nothing I’d like better than to just ride for several days in a row.

There’s just no good reason, none at all, why I couldn’t just ride to some of the events that I want to ride. The GLRC brevets aren’t that far away, and neither is northern Illinois. East-central Iowa and southern Minnesota both require more of a time commitment, but it’s still doable. The same goes for northern Wisconsin.

One or two days of riding to reach an event that I want to ride seems reasonable. To ride further than that for an event would require said event to be something very special – and I’m not at all sure what would possibly qualify.

So that’s what I’m going to try to do, at least once or twice this summer and fall. Ride to the ride. Ride the ride. And then ride home. Camping or hotels are both reasonable options.

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* Bike fun is like regular fun, only with more suffering.
** Yes, I know this is an argument for putting on our own events; we’re working on it.

Low.

The First S240 of 2014

It’s been quite a spring. Between events and some unseasonably cold weather and other events and more events, we didn’t get out for a camping trip until this last weekend, just as May was turning into June. In fact, another event almost got in the way of this one. We’d been considering a 200k brevet with the local rando club, but opted instead to load up the bikes and ride west in a leisurely fashion for a night of camping at Brigham County Park.

Saturday afternoon was beautiful and warm, with some breeze. Perfect for leisurely riding and hammocking in camp. Saturday night turned stormy (must remember to re-seal the rainfly seams…) and Sunday started cool and rainy, only to turn hot and humid.  A 2pm departure and back by noon the next day. Stops for dinner at the Grumpy Troll, supplies at some gas station convenience store, and breakfast at Sjolind’s — all in Mt. Horeb, either coming or going.

I’m damn glad that we could finally break the seal on the 2014 camping season — and I’m looking forward to more of these trips, short or long.