After last weekend’s dismal performance I owed Luke another gravel grinder. Over the week I put a different cassette on my touring bike, and thanks to my Dad got some new inner tubes for 700×28 tires. Hopefully that would take care of last weeks mechanical issues.
Saturday was around 32 degrees all day with on and off snow flurries, so we decided to ride on Sunday, well actually Luke rode 55 miles on Saturday anyway. It was cold but the sun was shining and once we climbed a couple of hills we were plenty warm. Luke had a route in mind that he said would be a bit over 60 miles. We left at 11AM and I told him that the search parties would be released at 5PM if I didn’t make it home.
Our route started with about 15 miles of rail trail. Again the rail trail was like wet concrete in many places and slowed our speed down to around 12 mph. It really isn’t that bad but it messes with your head some. It’s the equivalent of riding in a stiff headwind, or up a 1.5% grade, but without the obvious wind or climbing slowing you down it feels like riding with your brakes on.
We headed for the hills from Stonefort and climbed Bynum road, which I’ve never been on, it was great, hard packed and smooth gravel, gradual climbing, just a few potholes. This lead us out to even farther gravels and eventually to Trigg Tower Road, where we stopped at the fire tower for photos. Luke challenged me to climb the tower and I declined citing the dangers of climbing the steps in my bike shoes.
Our next turn was Rushing Road which was very surprisingly oil and chipped, even in the middle of nowhere its hard to find long stretches of gravel roads, call it progress. It was actually good luck the road was oil and chipped, because it contained one of the steepest downhills I’ve ridden. We dropped about 400 feet in a bit over a half a mile, my computer registers 50 mph for max speed but I must confess I never even glanced at it. Looking forward to coming back and climbing this monster.
We stopped at the tiny unincorporated community of Robbs for some pictures at old crumbling garage that was probably once the automotive capital of Western Johnson County. So far in the ride I’d felt great and had been riding strong but on the next long section of gravel I encountered a great deal of resistance. On Glendale road you could either ride on bumpy rough gravel or soft and chewy limestone mush. Luke pulled away from me like i was standing still and I struggled to keep the bike moving up a steady mild incline.
Eventually I began to feel the miles set in on me, I haven’t road more then a couple hours in over 2 months, sure I’ve kept up steady rides on the trainer, and for about 2-3 hours I feel great, but the last two were rough. Last week we were out for 5 hours but because of my many mechanicals we only actually rode a little over 3 of that. Today we were looking at a 5+ solid hours moving time and around 6 hours total time.