Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mud and Sun

I have been wanting to get my Salsa ready for an upcoming ride, the Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. To achive this I used a wheelset I had laying around that is a bit lighter than the factory wheels and replaced the factory 700x32 tires with 700x28 Continental GP 4 Seasons. With this setup I hope I can shed some weight in the wheels and lower the rolling resistence. This will make this bike much better for long distance rides but will still keep the capability to ride on gravel and even fire roads. Of course I wanted to test out this setup so I started out on a ride Monday after I taught school. I started out around 4 and almost immediately ran into a rain storm. I pulled out my rain gear and various warm bits of clothing I had thrown in my frame bag and soldiered on. After reaching the top of Reddish Knob I turned off on a fire road and made some serious time since most of it was downhill. I had a setback when I pinch flatted on a huge rock that I was unable to dodge. Luckily I had a frame pump and a spare tube in my seat bag. I replaced the tube but soon realized that it wouldn't hold any air. I had obviously pinched my tube while trying to slip the bead of the tire over the rim. I had to pull the tube back out and patch it. I didn't have a good patch kit so I was praying it would work so I wouldn't be stranded way back in the mountains with soaking wet clothes and temps hovering south of 55 degrees. After getting the tube back in the tire with as little mud as possible adhering to the tube I held my breath while I aired it up. It held!! A few short minutes later I hit a gravel forest road that I was able to make up my lost time. The rest of the ride was gratefully much less eventful. I arrived home covered in mud from my knees down but otherwise glad I had gotten outside on such a beautiful day.

You might ask, "why was it such a beautiful day?" I will admit the first hour and a half I was getting close to miserable. The wind was blowing, rain was sheeting down, and the temperature was dropping as I gained altitude. I got to an overlook close to the top of Reddish and it was all worth it. The rain had just stopped and the view towards WV was breathtaking. There were clouds rising up from the valleys leaving the mountaintops clear and bathed in sunlight which was streaming through breaks in the clouds overhead. I finished climbing to the Knob, got a bite to eat then put on some more clothing for the descent on the fire road. That was a great part of the ride. Other than the occasional bear hunter I was completely alone. The muddy road stretching before me and the green canopy overhead made it feel like I was totally immersed in Creation. As I was just getting out the National Forest and heading towards Stokesville and then home I saw in quick succession a flock of at least 12 wild turkeys and a black bear cub. I then took the back way home and  just as I crested a small hill the sun broke through the clouds and bathed the Valley in golden light right before it set behind Narrowback Mountain. Yes it is sometimes hard to get out of your Lazy Boy and onto your bike but it is almost always worth it!

Here is my Salsa Casseroll right after the ride. You can't tell very well but it is coated in mud. After I took this picture I had to take a hose and blast all the mud off so I could further clean and lube the much-abused drivetrain.

This picture was not taken during the aforementioned ride but a week before. I decided to ride up the the Knob early in the morning and on the descent I saw the sun throwing a spot of brilliant light on the road and I had to take a picture of it. God's Creation is so beautiful, you just have to be out in it to see scenes like this!

Here is a video of the Gran Fondo I am planning on doing in a little over three weeks.

Till next time,

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