Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Slow and Sloppy
Friday's ride didn't turn out quite like I expected. The photo is a good summary of the 75+ miles of gravel I rode on my way to Whiterock Conservancy. Wet, sloppy and sandy. Pair that with a bike that was, once again, loaded too heavily, and it made for slow, if steady, going. I made it a point early on to not display anything but my map on the Garmin. I didn't want to know how slowly I was going, how far I had gone, or what time it was. I gave in slightly north of Redfield while I was drinking some tasty coffee and eating some pop tarts. 32 miles in 2.75 hours. This was going to be a long day. Made it into Panora about 1:30 PM. (5-ish hours for 55 miles). Stopped at the grocery store to get some garbage bags so my sleeping bag would stay dry. After stop for lunch and some time at the laundromat to dry out my sleeping bag, I was on my way again. My next stretch took me 20 miles straight north. It was rough going, and by the time I hit Cooper I felt my energy waning. I opted to take a short break and head north on the Raccoon River Trail for a few miles to give my legs a break.
At the point I turned west, I ate an apple and finished the last of my (still hot) coffee. With my energy levels as low as they were, I should have ridden the 3 miles into Jefferson and grabbed an additional meal at a cafe. Instead, I turned west and planned on refueling at Coon Rapids. After a very slow 10 mile, I had stopped to take a rest when Gil, a local, pulled up next to me and asked if I needed any help. I explained what was going on and he offered me a ride to the conservancy. I told him that once I got some food in me, I'd be in good shape. Gil ran back down the road to snag some granola bars for me and I continued my trek west. By the time he got back, I had decided to throw in the towel, rather than be out another 4 hours in the cold and rain. Gil wouldn't accept my offer of filling his truck up, but he did accept the case of Busch Lite came out of the convenience store with me. (Score one for being observant when getting in someone's truck). A few minutes later, and I was in the campsite, with Squirrel grinning at me once he saw my face inside of Gil's truck.
The Long Haul Tucker worked out well as a gravel grinding platform, especially with the wider tires. I had no issues with seat or hand discomfort during the ride. I did notice the extra drag of the Panaracers. Despite the sandy wet conditions, I think that I would have been just as fine using the Continentals. I would REALLY like to see WTB build a Nanoraptor in a 1.9" width. Again, I managed to bring too much stuff with me for a two day stay. I'll eventually get the packing right for a short 2 day trip. Too many tools and bike parts are with me "just in case", but I figure a little weight is better than being stranded somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I have also decided that I need a lighter rain coat as it was at least a pound by itself. My Friday morning switch over the the Arkel Samurai panniers was a good idea. Nothing inside of them got wet, and they stood up to the sand well too. Some additional planning around waterproofing of certain items (tent and sleeping bag) will make another ride in the rain better. Since this was my third camping trip on the bike, I still have a bit of learning to do. I do feel like I'm getting closer to having things dialed in. My eventual goal is to be able to be ready to leave for a one or two day camping trip within two hours.
So, 200 miles planned, 75 or 80 actually ridden. Instead of being even on gravel centuries, I now find myself even further behind than when I started. Lots of riding to do in October and November if I'm gonna get a cup. Damn that Mable all to hell. :)
I took some photos along the way. Some good, some pretty plain. Enjoy.