Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January Blues

The mark of 8 miles of gravel left until the HTT

I feel really sorry for the people in my house and those I work with.  I also feel sorry for those that will follow the wake of my bicycle.  I have consumed nothing but broccoli and pork today and tonight's dinner will be heavy on cabbage and pork.  Sam Auen's tacos are resting in between.  A large bottle of Stella, the Christmas 750 ml special will be the catalyst.  I've been staring at that green bottle.  It's time has come.  So no stoking or drafting.  You have been warned.

So it was 60F today in Iowa.  Last year on this date it snowed 3".  I remember this quite well.  I really enjoyed it.  I rode home from work and checked Face Book.  Bob Moural said that he was leaving the Tap.  I could possibly intercept him and be on station when Mary rides through Water Works Park.  So I threw a leg over the red bike once again.

Bob was easy to spot.  It was snowing like hell.  A classic snowfall.  I think it was about 24F.  Bob was on the road weaving a bit as it seemed that his Surly cross bike was having issues with the ever deepening snow.  I was on the trail and cut through the snow field between the road and trail.  I must have appeared like a ghost coming straight out of nowhere.  We ponied up the bikes in the middle of the road a drank a beer.  No one was driving, the park was ours.

Mary arrived not long after Bob and I parted.  To keep the spirits going we stopped at Fat Tony's for a cheap pitcher.  The snow was still coming down hard and the barkeep offered to let us bring our bicycles inside.  We thanked him for the offer but left them outside.  Those bikes have seen worse.

Today almost felt the same.  Although it was nearly 40 degrees warmer, it felt great to be alive and out on a bicycle.  The weather people called it right even though I recall someone forecasting a high of 67F.  I was able to ride in shorts after work.  I never have done that in January before.  Maybe never again in Iowa.

I was a great ride to Cumming.  many people out on bikes.  My feeble mind was entertained by a C-130 circling low on practice maneuvers.  The Safety Shack had it going on.  Me in shorts, the 10th day of the year.  Some riders were dressed for colder temps.  Not me, but I did have 30F clothing stowed away in the panniers.  Cannot leave them at work for they will be needed tomorrow morning.  No gloves either.  On the way home I was living for those warm air pockets that seem to drift aimlessly on the route.  I was not going to stop and apply more clothing.  It was still above 50F and the sun was still up past 430 pm.  Milk this day for what it is worth.  Tomorrow it will only get to 40.  Thursday 24.  We may not see the 60s again for a few months.

Strange winter.  No one is complaining.  Maybe the doom and gloom global warming/climate change messengers.  It has snowed twice this season.  The snow never lasted a day.  Sometimes it feels like Spring.  I have seen single digits once, teens 2 or 3 times.  Every day it is above freezing.  Almost everyday.  But this is to change, maybe.

This is the time of year that a biker is supposed to hate.  This time of year we are supposed to change sports or ride winter bikes.  Not this year, so far.  I have not purchased my studded tires yet.  Mary's pair is still in the basement.  But is this the winter to love?

I love Spring because everything is new again.  Life returns to Iowa.  The anticipation of long bike rides finally is released and soothed.  A a season of withering muscles is suddenly reversed.  Time to train.  Time to get in shape again.  And, unless you ride all winter, time to break that ass in again so it does not feel like you are excreting a bicycle when you first start riding.

2011 was a hell of a year for me.  I set new records.  I met all of my goals.  I rode almost every where.  So now I feel a bit lost.  What to do now?  What do I focus on in 2012?  What is there to look forward to?

I cannot think of any goals.  Maybe new downhill speed records.  My average speed could use improvement as well.  I stopped tracking the amount of groceries biked home.  But I am keeping the goal of 100+ miles every week.  Maybe I need a foot or two of snow to slow me down.  Not this year.  I took two days off, January 1 and 2, from serious biking.  Nothing to look forward for.

2012 rides are beginning to drift in.  But so far they look like pub crawls.  Been there, drank there, done that.  Damn, I wish I was selected for Trans Iowa.  Almost at peak shape right now.  Perhaps the answer lies there.  Long ass gravel road rides.  New to me.  New destinations.  Something different.  A ride to Grinnell to see the trans Iowa racers off and heckle them with beer.  That's a good one.

In about 20 days the Ragbrai overnights will be announced.  I will be able to pull out a map and dream.  Until then I will continue riding and wishing for greener trails.


  1. Gravel rides are so much fun. Many many cool areas to explore and roads to challenge yourself with.

  2. great post :)

    go ride some gravel! I need to myself.