Saturday, January 14, 2017

Upside Down Week

The Red Phoenix at the infamous flood spot.  I was pondering a future flood soon.

It's been an interesting week in Ioway.  January Blues?  Mid-Winter Suckfest?  Fake Weather Forecasts?  The old saying here is "don't like the weather, wait five minutes," rang so true this week of January 9, 2017.  But it was like living in an upside down world.  Warm, by winter standards in Iowa, while we slept and cold when it should have been warm.  And that fookin' wind!  Often in my face on the way to work!  WTF is going on?

The week began nicely for January with a promise of decent winter weather.  Perhaps we will survive.  The Weather people said that it would warm up, and it did.  And I was happy.  Whatever improvement in conditions makes life easier for everyone.

Monday had to have been the best.  I was able to ride the single speed with normal tires.  A cool start at 17F with 31F for the ride home.  Nothing noted in my Bike Log except that I stopped at Wal Mart in search of a cheap wind breaker/rain jacket because my current one looks like crap.  It is getting grungy looking from years of abuse.  I also picked up some BluRays.

Monday's score on the single speed.  Frame for a poster appearing like a giant mobile phone on back of the Vanquish.  Location: Jackson Street Bridge.

Tuesday was the first day of the Fake Weather Forecast.  I remember vividly watching the news Monday evening to study the weather forecast.  It called for rain but the rain would fall in the morning and while I was at work.  The temperature after work would be above freezing and this would allow me to make a grocery run.  I also checked this out on  Based on this intelligence I chose to ride the Vanquish (single speed) once again.  No need for the studded tires of the Red Phoenix.  Besides that bike has an issue with its front tire holding air even after I replaced the tubes.  The FX 7.5 aka The Ice Bike and The Red Phoenix is on its 10th winter and is ready for combat despite the need to check the front tire.  I'll get around to fixing it AGAIN.

It was above freezing when I left for work.  I left a few layers at home and wore lighter gloves.  I beat the rain in the morning.  Everyone asked if I got wet.  No.  An hour later the flood gates opened up and the rain began.  it rained for hours.  Then the wind picked up and the rain ended.  then the temperature dropped.  And then the water turned to ice.  This all occurred while I was working.  I dressed for forecasted high of 43F.  When I left it was 27F but I had a tail wind.  This was the first of several days that the temperature in the middle of the night and morning was warmer than it was in the afternoon.

Vandalism on the Jackson Street Bridge--wet paint Monday night.  These paint bombs have been seen in several places on the trail system.

Needless to say the ride home was not my best.  Wrong bike and wrong clothing.  At least I had a 20+ mph tail wind.  But that wind was useless because the trail, Clive Greenbelt, was a sheet of ice, mostly.  I took to riding on the grass shoulder until I got to 100th St and then the roads.  the roads may have been treated for ice.  Better to make time on the streets and battle with cars than crawl on an icy trail.  Eventually I made it.

On a side note, someone broke their ankle in the parking lot that day while walking to their car.  The only ice issue I had other than avoiding it was one time the rear tire spun on the ice on the trail along the corporate lake as I was leaving work.

Wednesday I grabbed the Ice Bike and almost set a record for the week getting to work early.  Had I not been cautious I may have beaten the time I did on the Vanquish Monday and Tuesday.  I saw Joe Ayers who said that the trail had quite a few ice patches.  judging by the place we met, at Water Works Bridge, I could tell he was riding slow.  Usually we meet near Gray's Lake or Mullets depending on when i leave the house.  The front tire held air but I added more when I left work.  No issues going home.  BTW, 29F in the morning, 20F for the ride home.

The Ice Bike was used for the rest of the week.  Thursday was uneventful, just cold.  I stopped in Windsor Heights to shop at Hy Vee.  Needed dog food,  organic cherry juice, half and half and chicken and beer.  Had a few beers with Cynthia and then carried the load home.  Yes, a 15 lb bag of food for Fritz.

Another bicycle commuting issue has been the "detour" around the underpass at 63rd and Grand.  Unannounced utility work closed the trail.  they rerouted trail users to 56th St which is very hilly and has a lot of traffic and is dangerous in winter conditions.  I cross the ditch and then cross grand.  Flat and safer.

Friday I probably could have gotten away with the single speed but the FX was running well or so I thought.  Some of the ice had disappeared.  Friday morning the wind was from the north to hinder my progress and the bike was slow.  about four miles into it at the horse stables I stopped and checked the tires.  the front was fine but the rear was low.  The valve was not closed.  Odd, because I had not aired that tire for a week.  Sabotage or incompetence did not matter at 5 am in the 12F air.  I had a great pump with me that did not want to set up on the stem properly without a minutes long fight but eventually I got the tire back up to where it needed to be and I closed the valve. So the wind and slow 4 miles and mechanical issue cost me a lot of time but once again I made it to work only to be asked if I was cold.  sweaty, yes, pissed off, yes.  I aired both tires at 11 am and then again at 3 pm when I left.  No issues with the rear but but the time i got home the front lost a little bit.  Yeah, dirty hands sometime this weekend.  I will need the bike on Monday.

Another winter week gone by.  Five days of commuting by bicycle recorded in the bike log.  138.5 miles.  Next week if the forecast is not fake or wrong I am to experience an ice storm for Monday's commute and then Spring like temps for the remainder of the week, 50F by Friday.  A quarter inch of ice predicted.  So I am planning to take the Red Phoenix for its fourth commute in a row.  Studded tires are worth their weight in gold.  I'll see how many cagers make it in.  I know i will, leaking tires or not!

Someone is smiling!  Lost ball in Windsor Heights.

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