With Trans Iowa V10 merely two weeks away (my gut twists just a little, even typing that), it was high time for one last long, hard ride before beginning my taper. It was also time to put the single-speed gearing on the Devil to the test, so that I could see if it needed to be even lower than I’d already made it. And it was time to see if I could spend all day in the saddle, riding over hill and dale (mostly hill).

We left at 5am, and rode the Badger State Trail to the Wisconsin-Illinois Border, continued on the Jane Addams Trail to Freeport, Illinois, where we stopped for lunch (Amigo’s) and extra supplies (Freeport Bicycle Company). Then, we leapt in to the paved and gravel hills of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin with both feet, taking a route that led us roughly northeast to Brodhead, Albany, Brooklyn, Oregon, and back to Madison.

Over the course of the day, we experienced a 40-degree temperature range, got rained on twice, saw pink lightning, waited out a thunderstorm with two hailstorms in Clarno, WI, hiked through snowed-in trail, flew before a 15-20mph tailwind going north, got chased by a huge German shepherd, and climbed any number of steep hills, both paved and graveled.

Stats: 149.9 miles at 14.7mph (moving average) running 39×18 with 4omm tires on the Devil.

2014-04-12 06.10.28

For Dairy Roubaix and Trans Iowa, I’ll use a hydration pack, Revelate Tangle, and smaller seat bag instead of water bottles and the Revelate Pika. And I’ll lose the front rack and perhaps the fenders (weather permitting).2014-04-12 07.14.41

Not all of the snow is gone. This drift was more than a foot deep in places.2014-04-12 07.15.03

We tried to ride it, but it was too soft. So, hike-a-bike. 2014-04-12 09.13.45

By the time we reached Clarno, it was raining hard.2014-04-12 09.14.40

We decided to take shelter under the capacious overhang at the Clarno Lumber Company. After looking at the radar, we realized we’d be there for a while. It took almost 45 minutes for the two massive thunder-hail storms to pass through.2014-04-12 09.15.54

Despite the rain, the trail stayed firm. But that white stuff? Yeah, hail.
2014-04-12 09.38.30

More hail.2014-04-12 09.44.11

Even though the sun came out and it started to warm up, the hail stuck around for a while. You can see why: some of it was rather large.2014-04-12 09.47.11

The trail stayed firm, but it wasn’t exactly dry.2014-04-12 10.25.44

Truss bridge. Closed to motor vehicles, perfect for bicycles.  And some bonus pave on the other side.
2014-04-12 11.58.47

After lunch and a visit to the Freeport Bicycle Company, we started working our way north and east. First on pavement…
2014-04-12 12.26.52

…and then on some fine, fine Illinois gravel.2014-04-12 12.55.50

Some of us established a more intimate relationship with the landscape than others.2014-04-12 13.07.52

But we all climbed the hills. And more hills.2014-04-12 15.05.22

At Brodhead, we picked up the Sugar River Trail, and found this little covered bridge.2014-04-12 15.53.25

And then took to the hills once again. After hours of hot and sunny weather, the clouds and rain started to return.2014-04-12 15.53.27

Which made for good photography.2014-04-12 16.27.31

Llamas or alpacas? Both?
2014-04-12 18.16.44

We made one last stop in Oregon before the final run for home, during which we got more thunder, lightening, and rain.2014-04-12 20.53.35

I arrived home to a double bourbon and an excellent home cooked meal.2014-04-13 12.53.18

And then on Sunday, we went for a 25-mile recovery spin, stopped for coffee, and got rained on again. A damn fine weekend.

Technical Notes

The Devil is just about ready for Trans Iowa, and the rider isn’t too far behind. This ride proved that I could in fact ride TI-like terrain on a single-speed–though it also proved that 39×18 is perhaps still a little tall for such a long, hilly event. While I was able to ride all of the hills on this course–and there were quite a few substantial hills–it also became abundantly clear that I’d have a much better time over the long run with a smaller gear that would allow me to stay in the saddle more often and which I’d be able to keep at a higher cadence for longer when climbing.

At the end of this week, I’ll install a 19t cog for Dairy Roubaix and Trans Iowa, and then return to the 18t cog for the Gravel Metric. And, I’ll set up the mounts for the lighting, GPS, and cyclo-computer so that they play nicely with the Revelate feedbags and my cuesheet holder.



2 thoughts on “Freeportation

  1. I understand that “epic” is an overused word, but that ride sounds legitimately epic under most common uses of the word. That’s a truely interest write-up as well. Quite enjoyable. I’m getting all fired-up about TransIowa (especially since I have no plans to attempt it). Respect, and have a great ride!

  2. Thanks. And yes, I think in this case we can legitimately apply “epic” to at least some portions of this ride.

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