Sunday, February 19, 2017

Perfect Weekend in February

A wonderful reprieve in the winter this weekend.  Friday had Des Moines to 74F.  Everyone was out on the trail when I rode home after work.  Including a bat.  Yes, a flying mammal.  He seemed a bit stunned as he/she was awake in February and it was sunny.  It hovered a bit above the trail next to the dog park in Windsor Heights and I damn near collided with it!  Smoke em if you got em!  Get outside before the jealous NW Wind freezes us again.

Reviewing this blog and my bike log I discovered that this is not so unusual.  Last year on the 27th I rode to Summerset Winery and it was 68F.  I recall having a conversation with Ron Mark, the owner, about the weather and he was concerned that the vines would bud out and then a killer freeze would hit.  For some reason I thought this occurred in March not February but my documentation proved otherwise.  This year we are a week ahead.

Saturday would be the big day.  Most of my weekends have not included much biking.  Usually during winter it is cold and miserable or I am ill.  But this Saturday I was ready.  Aired up the tires of my best road bike and hit the tarmac.  The Summerset Trail in Carlisle would be our destination.

It was a perfect day.  67F with no wind.  How often does that happen?  No wind.  Rarely.  We waited until it was 60F before leaving.  Immediately on our back deck I dropped the gloves, the ear warmer and the jacket.  Warmer outside than it was inside the house.  I was a bit disappointed since it was a new jacket and had zippers on the pockets plus inside pockets.  Another ride and I will be able to use it for the first time.  Mary dropped some of her gear as well.

Why head south east?  Simple.  Everyone will be on the metro trails.  Walkers, runners, baby strollers, people walking up to 3 dogs each, fatbikes, hybrids and road bikes.  Crowded.  Too much energy spent on avoiding collisions.  Now the county highways to Carlisle will be empty. The Summerset Trail is usually empty as well.   Another plus is that we have not been on them in months. We are on metro trails every day.  A change of pace, a change of scene.

Ugly and smelly.  Lots of scavenger water birds at the puddle in the middle of what once was Easter Lake.
Where did the water go?
Where did the fish go?
I saw people walking in this on Saturday.
For all your dredging needs.

First the Des Moines River Trail.  A few bikes and pedestrians on it today.  All the bald eagles were gone except the big nest near Gilligan's Island.  Then the fun stretch of Evergreen Avenue on the north side of Easter Lake.  Despite the need to repave this stretch of road I love it heading east. Always big ring time.  Get cruising in the 20s and look at the lake.  Lake looked strange since they drained it.  Somewhere on the other side is a trail that will connect to Carlisle.  I don't know if I ever will ride that trail more than once, curiosity will be the the first trip, since I love my safe route to Carlisle.  Today I thought the money spent draining the lake and building that trail would have been better spent repaving Evergreen.

12 miles from my deck to the Casey's in Carlisle.  We did not stop for food.  Wait til the return.  Now where?  Take the trail to Indianola?  That would guarantee over 40 miles.  Do we have the time?  Need to do Timmy's taxes and Katie called with tax questions.  How about Summerset Winery?  6 odd miles on the trail and a big climb, gotta do hill work some time, do some free samples and purchase a bottle to take home.  Mary liked that Idea.  Stop at the trailhead so Mary can ditch her jacket.

The trail was not crowded.  Two or three groups of four bikers each heading our way.  Some women at the trailhead prepping.  Nobody passed us.  A few families.  A few runners.  The gun range blasting a way.  An easy ride.

At Summerset Rd we hang a left and climb the hill.  I am not proud.  I am still having gout issues affecting my left foot and leg.  I immediately downshifted to granny.  My bike has a racing triple so the granny is a mere 30T.  Not a huge shift but makes a difference on long steep climbs.  If there would have been the same bike with a double I would have bought it.  Much rather have the 53/39T front instead of the 50/39/30T, sacrifice top end for climb.  Front shifts are often the worst and the third option makes things worse.  That's why there's a trend to for 1x10 or 1x11 bikes.  Really, 2x10 or 2x11 is all one needs as long as the cassette is wide.  But times like this I appreciate the triple. Play the cassette and avoid a horrid under pressure front shift when I am losing the energy game.  I'm not getting younger or healthier.

The back of the Camelback.  Pump, tube, patch kit, levers, wine.  Be prepared.  Also inside is a drawstring bag in case I purchased two bottles of wine.

Had we more time I would have preferred to purchase two bottles.  One for drinking here outside at the winery and one to take home.  I think the time issue was all in my head, Mary never complained about time.  We did our samples and got one bottle.  I placed it in my Camelback and rode off.  I removed the bladder a long time ago and use the Camelback for carrying tire repair gear and other necessities.  My LeMond is bagless.  This was the first time I carried a bottle of vino in it.  Worked great!

Granny up the hill, big ring down the hill.  Mary got out in front and a truck got behind her and refused to pass.  I was gaining on the both of them.  PASS YOU BASTARD PASS HER!!!!!!  He did not and I had to hold back.  I was unable to break 40 mph and settled for 39.3 mph knowing that I could have.  But there was more to this.  Right before the trail crossing there was a scar on the road and it could not be avoided.  The bump looked bad at 39 miles per hour but it was quick and the bike handled it well.  Even Mary would comment on this pothole.  Both of us zoomed past the trail and bled our speed out before turning around.  I was proud that Mary did this.  Reward for the climb.  She only hit 32 mph.

On the way back there were bikes crossing the road on the trail.  Two Townies heading north.  One was dressed like the wicked witch of the north.  Well, black with a black sun visor brim on her helmet and when sitting upright on a Townie it looks like someone riding a broom.  She had momentum from blowing through the intersection, we did not.  And she put up a fight passing her, 14 mph.  Back to big ring, downshift the cassette a bit for rpm, wait for the oncoming bikes to pass and hit it, ON YOUR LEFT and hammer hoping Mary would do the same.  She did and said she was afraid I would have mistaken the with for her and said something totally inappropriate.  I did not.

These are the droids guarding the wine before it goes into the chiller.

Stopped at Fiss's for lunch.  I had a sub, she had a wrap. $12 including drinks.  I wanted to stop at the Mexican restaurant but Mary thought she would eat too much and thus have a miserable 12 miles home.  My sub was good and there is a bike rack in back of Fiss's.

Nothing to note on the remaining ride home.  The lake was still empty.  The pavement on Evergreen Rd is worse going west.  And we saw the same woman on the Des Moines River Trail that we saw on our way out.  And the dogs across the street...the little jack Russel mix chased me as I entered my driveway.  The people let their dogs run loose.  One day those dogs will get squished by a car.  I would call the dogcatcher on them but the little kids who live there would cry since those mutts are prolly the only nice thing they have.  But for the love of all that is good, keep your dogs in your own yard!

An American Riesling.  Semi-sweet.  Now before you start bitching about sweet wines, dry whites are for people that cannae handle bourbon, scotch or whisky.  I do drink more dry reds that sweet or semi-sweet whites.
Sunday the temperature reached the 73F and it was windy.  Took a ride back to Easter Lake for the photos of the empty lake.  On the way there I encountered a very friendly dog who was on a broken chain.  Small German Shepard type, black on top and brown on the bottom.  Large pointy ears sticking straight up. Most likely a pup.  He was happy to see me and followed me.  Even ran along side me and sniffed my feet while I was pedaling.  Eventually he went away.  Hate to bring home a new dog.  On my way home he was staring at the door of the house I first saw him at.

Team Kum & Go.  I look shorter and fatter when I step back in group photos.

The big ride began after I got back.  Team Kum & Go was meeting at Mullets and riding to Cumming.  I contemplated grabbing a bagger and filling it with beer but I would never be able to keep up.  9 of us, Steve, Lori, Dennis, Steve, John, Mary, Mary, Donnie and myself met up and got as far as Confluence for one beer.  Then off to the Cumming Tap.  We saw a lot of people we knew and the team was impressed that we knew so many people.  Hey, if you ride in the same circuit as everyone else you get to know people.  Or is that circus?  And it was a circus, however, as the trail was very busy and the strong wind from the south dampened our speed.

On the way back it was an all out effort between the two Marys, Lori, John and myself.  The others headed south to Donnie's giant garage.  Mary and I had to get home, lights and dinner issues.  All out big ring effort in play.  Let's just say that my speed was rarely below 20 mph.  But I needed to break out of my slow ass commuter mode.  At least my hip was not bothering me.  I kept thinking about what I heard once, "always hang out with people who are smarter than you, it may rub off."  Hence, ride with people who are better riders than you for it will make you a better rider.  Tell that to my legs.  Somewhere during that warp ride I passed the 100th mile for the year.  Great to be back in 4 digits again!  I'm ahead of last year.  Good people to see me do it!

Next weekend looks to be winter like.  I'll probably stay home and resume hibernation.  Spring is near.  I can wait.

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