The leaf skimmed across the road from the curb to right in front of my front wheel. I could have avoided it but I nailed the bastard right in the middle as it was perfectly lined up in my path. A soft crunch and I am not sure if the rear wheel rolled over it. But then the sound of that leaf skimming the road behind me. It followed for quite awhile. I was on the single speed climbing up University Ave around 530 AM. The wind was directly on my back at 20 mph so the leaf had no issues following me. With the single speed there's always a compromise between choosing gear that balances climb and top end speed. I deferred a bit on climb at the sacrifice of flat speed since I have a few hills. But the 20T or 19T, I forget what freewheel I put on, will not allow me to ride routes with steep hills like the Loess Hills or the Iowa side of the Mississippi River. What a shame because I'd love to tour on this beast. But I can climb the hills I find in town and have a decent commuting cruising speed of 14-18 mph while carrying bags. At this moment I was doing 10 mph.
Consideration of stopping to photograph that leaf was given a brief debate in my head. I even took the first right to perform the U-turn required for the photo but a white Baker Group pick-up truck was waiting at the light, driver feeding his nicotine addiction with his morning smoke. Early riser and probably a hard working person off for the finish the work week in need of that cigarette for the the final 8 hours of earning his keep. I never stopped and continued up the hill. Soon I'd cross 35th and be able to enjoy the tailwind. The Devil would demand payment when I rolled home at 3 PM.
It was a day to assess things and make proper decisions. All week the Weather Guessers said it was going to rain, freezing rain and snow and have a strong wind from the east. But as Friday approached it was apparent that I would be able to get to work dry but have a messy ride home. "Wintry Mix" they called it.
I had two options. The Winter Bike with its studded tires or the single speed with bags and the ability to handle sloppy roads and rain. Ice was my only concern. The Red Phoenix is great on ice but slow and I'd need to transfer panniers to its rack, the Vanquish has road tires and be a dangerous gamble in such conditions although it would be alright on an inch or two of snow. But the temperature was to rise to 40*F by the time I was to get off. And Ed Wilson said that the ground is too warm for ice to remain and be an issue. The freezing precipitation was to hit early and then rain and then a dry spell before the rain resumed. I chose the faster bike, the one with the panniers already on since I needed to stop at the store on my way home.
The die was cast. Informed decision, years of experience and proper equipment and the Rule of 3: 30 days without food, 3 days without water, 3 hours without heat, 3 minutes without air. I certainly would make it home in less than 3 hours or find a bar to hole up in until the airstrike would pick me up.
So that damn leaf. Looked like the leaf Peter Saville had Trevor Key photograph for the cover of True Faith by New Order. Apparently he was sitting in his car when the leaf floated by him. I wish I would have taken that photo. "I feel so extraordinary, something's got a hold of me. I get this feeling I'm in motion, a certain sense of liberty." Yes, that's it, True faith. The feeling one gets when on a bicycle. I get nervous when I drive especially during winter. Too many fools are allowed to drive. Think about it. One could not only wreck their vehicle but quite possibly damage or destroy others' vehicles, knock down utility poles leaving people powerless and kill people! In Des Moines, Iowa, 45.5 car wrecks per inch of snow. On a bicycle I just look stupid and I take paths away free of automobiles. I have more faith in the safety on my bicycle than any car. But I may get wet and cold.
|Sunrise while at work.|
This morning I rolled by the stains left by a foo foo SUV that rammed into the back of another car in front of Outback on University Ave. 3 pm this occurred. It was sunny and dry. One lane of traffic disturbed. Tow truck and cops. They let the woman open up the rear hatch to grab her shit before they hauled the SUV away. I wish I saw her in hand cuffs, "Sorry, Miss, but you FAILED as an operator of a motorized vehicle and by law we need to send you to jail for 3 days to make the roads safer for others and to give you a chance to reflect upon your dangerous driving habits."
Like Ed said, the strong east wind delayed the rain, ice ect for a few hours. The center of the low pressure must have been southwest of Des Moines given how the bands of precip were hitting us from the southeast in a counter clockwise spin. And like he said a dry period hit and I made my move and left work. Apprehensive I was, hearing reports that ice was sticking to cars. The fact that it was a few degrees colder than my 430 AM journey to work did not make me feel any better. It was now 34*F. When I left my home it was 36*F. And that damn wind was now in my face. But the pavement was merely wet. Icicles were hanging from the bumpers of cars, along fences and signs. Could be interesting.
|Along the Clive Greenbelt. Felt weird seeing ice while riding wondering if at any moment black ice would wipe me out.|
The short cut was taken to the Clive Greenbelt. Extra caution was used to cross the pedestrian sidepath over I-80/35 but no ice was present. Remember, bridges freeze before roads! Then that damn wind. I get on University at ADP, across the street from Outback and head for the left turn lane to take 107th to Greenbelt Dr where i catch the trail proper. Wow, I was slow but no one was behind me. A bit disappointed that the large red fox did not grace me with its presence as I entered the trail. However, the trail was just wet and I did not slide and crash onto the wooden fence and tumble down into Walnut Creek.
The trail was empty. One one set of dog walkers. No bicycles, imagine that, until I got out of Windsor Heights. Somewhere before Grand Ave I ran into Jason. Jason's house borders the trail south of the dog park. In the mornings if I am at the right time, I see him and his wife Cassandra walking their Airedales on the trail. They even put blue lights on the dog collars. Jason works downtown and often runs to and fro work. Today he was on a fendered Surly. We stopped and talked. Been a long winter and I'm either ahead of schedule or behind in the morning so I have not seen them for quite a while. He said their female dog is now 11 and has a bad back or hip so they only walk the male dog currently. Jason also warned me that ice was on the Water Works bridge. After parting I saw a regular commuter not looking too happy. It was beginning to sprinkle. 6 miles to go.
|Underneath Grand Ave|
The sprinkles added sleet or frozen water chunks to the mix which stung my face. I thought of Steve Cannon and the adhesive layer he wears on his face while racing the Iditarod and other frozen trails from hell. I could use that stuff right about now. Keep head down, there's no one there to collide with. Sure enough, ice slush on the WW bridge but the Marathons held firm. Then a voice...
Paul, another Commuter of the Year, pulled up. Awesome! I slowed him down as we rode the next 3 miles together. He was on his Redline crossbike taking the long way home. Been sometime we had seen each other. Good to chat with him but I had to hang a left on the Green Bridge and head to Hy Vee for dinner supplies.
I text Mary and gave her my location and she got to the store in time for me to check out and load my bike, but it was raining like hell now! Back inside and to the bar!!! Got to love a grocery store with a bar. Gotta ride this storm out on a dry bar stool while pissing everyone off with our wet clothing. By this time I was wet. Gloves were the worst. Thought about stripping off the wet clothes on the bike but it was too cold for them to dry. Regarding the bikes, I left the damn key for my lock on my desk at work. Had to fake it like it was locked up. Mary, similarly, left her lock at home so she bungeed her bike to mine! Yes, Des Moines, you could have stolen two single speed bikes full for dirty work clothing, tortillas, buffalo chicken mix and bleu cheese dressing and spinach. My deception worked and the bikes were still there.
I had Iowa Brewing Co's Zoinks which is a delicious IPA. Mary, a Blue Moon since the 420 Bar was ciderless. I liked my beer and try to drink Iowa beers whenever possible. F other states!
The rain quit when we made our escape for home. I had time to shower and start laundry before Mary got the text. Our daughter and son in-law were at Mullets, like to see us. Well, I'm clean and dry and the rain has stopped, why not? When we left there there was a nice light show south of us. Someone was getting hit with a thunderstorm. There was a lot of hail on our deck so apparently we ducked out another storm while enjoying beer at Mullets. 5 minutes later while we were safely inside and our bicycles put away the storm hit. Sustained hail and rain. I opened the front door to watch and Fritz joined me confused about the white ice balls filling the sidewalks and street and the racket of it nailing the house.
|Nearly a quart of Busch Light for $5. Just need one.|
SAFE!! 28 miles. Got to see friends and family. A few beers and a burger. Most importantly, not getting stranded under a bridge during a violent storm nor having to deal with a bicycle sliding on an icy surface. So the gamble paid off. Faith in my ability to properly gauge the weather prevailed once again. But Lord, can it warm up for good now, please?