On the drive up I was thinking, this is a bad idea.
Earlier this week I mentioned to my wife that I would be riding Saturday on a gravel road, “Dirty South” ride. She just looked at me and shook her head. The ride teetered on the brink of being called off for weather all week. On Friday night, she asked if I was actually doing the ride, I replied, “No way, it’s going to snow and rain.” I went to bed with no worries.
Early in the ride, not even muddy yet.
Saturday morning I woke up to snow and rain and looked at the weather then sighed relief, no ride, no way. Check the forum, nothing, not cancled, hmmm. JW calls, he’s hosting this edition of the DS100K, he says the ride is on, I tell him I’m out and he plays his ace in the hole, “What are you going to do if you don’t ride.” I reply that I’m going to work, but over the next hour I find out my wife plans on doing Christmas crafts and I realize I’d rather go ride in slop. I call JW back and tell him I’ll ride if he brings me two bananas, he agrees and I get ready. It’s a pretty elite group of riders that have made every Dirty South and I want to remain in club.
Friday night I was intending to do a little bike work. I wanted to replace the rear 28mm slick with a file tread cyclocross tire like the one of the front because of the snow and a general warning to avoid slicks. I also really need to replace the rear brake pads but since I didn’t plan on going I didn’t bother. Bad move.
Here’s where the wheels came off.
I arrived about 10:10 and saw 7 riders. Wow, lots of crazy people. Dave made the ride, Justin, Moe and Lee, Cody, Tony, Jim and I. We take off on smooth highway and cruise for awhile until we arrive at a field and Jim announces we’re cutting though it. I take a picture then get moving, I can’t keep my wheels moving, keep sliding off the snow covered dirt road. Jim comes back to offer me some support. I got moving and saw a bit of ice ahead of me, to my surprise my front wheel busted through the ice and fell in a 8 inch deep hole throwing me over the bars and into the water. What a start. I walk the rest of the field and then up a verticle rock strewn climb that I don’t think anyone made.
Cody, helping with a flat.
We hit the gravel and I was stunned that it was easier and faster to roll on the snow covered gravel then the clear gravel. The river rock didn’t offer much support, it was like riding in quicksand. It was brutal. My tires were working, but the 28mm tire was digging some deep trenches. The mountain bike guys seemed to be doing good on the gravel, but I was falling to the rear in each gravel section. I would begin each gravel section riding behind Jim but when the road got super soft I would bog down and Jim would float through the muck. Jim’s tires were digging trenches that would fill with water, it kind of reminded me of playing on a a beach, a very cold and uncomfortable beach.
Can’t hardly believe we were riding on this stuff.
As we got into the ride Moe began having flats. I think he had 4 or 5, often times within minutes of one another. It would have a minor annoyance on a good day, but it was downright horrible on a cold day. I really felt for him trying to fix his tires in the just slightly above freezing cold. All I’ll say about Moe’s flats is to ask Luke, or well, anyone I’ve ridden with in the past, about some of my epic flat rides. Sometimes its just not your day and Moe handled it with far more composure then I ever have.
A sweet Lynsky ‘cross bike, notice the twisted down tube. Woooo.
Speaking of composure we cut through some access roads and fields, ahead I saw everyone gingerly stepping over a limb at an opening in a treeline. I nearly got beheaded by barb wire when I decided I’d show everyone how cool I am by bunnyhopping the limb. Turned out they were gingerly stepping under some barbwire, luckily I was warned.
Thanks Justin. We rode about a mile on top of a snow covered levee next, I was putting out enough power to run 20 on the road and going 3 mph. I finally got so bogged down that I couldn’t keep going, I invoked some profanity then ate a banana when I realized I was about to faint.
JW determines that crossing is too dangerous.
Out next adventure lead us to the rail trail and eventually to high water, the rail trail was covered and we had to double back. An ATV rider had swamped his 3 wheeler out there in the high water. I hope the kid was able able to get out of the water. My shoes were wet and it was getting colder. We finished up on the road back to Jim’s house, Moe passed out cheese burgers, which was good because I was feeling hallow. We shuttled back to the beginning with about half the ride complete, everyone was cold, wet and miserable.