Sunday, January 31, 2016

SMNDFBR - Bohemian Rhapsody

Too late, my time has come
Sends shivers down my spine
Body's aching all the time
Goodbye everybody I've got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
Mama, ooo (anyway the wind blows, it’ll always seem like a headwind)
I don't want to die
I sometimes wish I'd never gone on this ride at all

There are a section of gravel roads just a few miles north of Malcolm that traverse what is known as the Bohemian Alps, they were given that name by the Czech settlers because they reminded them of home. They are also described as gently rolling, a description that was obviously given to them by someone who has never ridden them on a bicycle, because there is nothing gentle about their roll. There is some debate about where the Bohemian Alps begin and naturally where they end, a lot of people will tell you that you need to get north of  Valparasio around Dwight, Prauge, Weston or Brainard to really get into the heart of the Alps and that might be; however Garland in my opinion,  which is also shared by Wiki, is also within the span of the Bohemian Alps. Perhaps on the foothills of them but close enough for government work. While Queen did not write Bohemian Rhapsody trying to describe the Bohemian Alps, the verse above (slightly modified but mostly original) perfectly describes what one's psyche can go through while pedaling up and down these "gently rolling" hills. 


It was January and it was going to be in the 50s after a few weeks of much colder temps and because of that the usual frozen dirt of Wilderness Park wasn't going to be dirt or frozen. Since it was such a nice day it was decided that we would set off on a gravel expedition to Garland and back and as you can see there was a high level of initial excitement for our 50 mile ride.


Somehow a few of us zigged while the rest of us zagged and just like that our first regroup was held less than three blocks from Cycle Works giving everyone a chance to recover from the tenth of  a mile we had gone so far.


Back as one cohesive unit we proceeded in a northwesterly direction via back roads and local trails on our way out of Lincoln.



I was hoping for a little more sun but it seemed to be staying behind the clouds a little longer than I had hoped making things a little dismal and chilly but it was early yet so perhaps our yellow friend would pay us a visit later on.


A funny thing happens whenever you get a group of guys together, no matter what you're doing it often times must become a competition and riding fat bikes is no exception. We have been by Kawasaki on the SMNDFBR before and whenever the road turns flat and straight everybody starts to feel their oats... and the sprint is on. Yes even on 30+ lbs Fat Bikes one man must try to out speed the others in a competition to prove his superior leg spinning abilities. While not as graceful or seemingly effortless as a road bike sprint, these spectacles akin to watching Clydesdales running The Preakness instead of thoroughbreds, can get up into the mid 20 mph range and sound like a group of monster trucks.



Once safely on gravel and the boost of nitrous like testosterone depleted for the moment, the pace tends to get reigned in and we begin to settle in to the gravel speed. If you're looking to get your feet wet, so to speak, on gravel, NW 27th is a great road to start on. Right outside of Lincoln and close to Kawasaki and Fall Brook, the road is fairly flat and smooth for several miles.



The course for Saturday was fairly simple, NW 27th out to Waverly Rd to 182nd to Old Mill and into Garland. Because they get more sun exposure the north/south roads tend to be in pretty good shape and this was true even today despite there being several inches of snow on the ground just a week prior.




Turning west onto Waverly Rd the road was in pretty decent shape initially where it was not tree lined and remained opened to the affects of the sun, I was hoping it would stay this way.




Unfortunately once we started to get to the sections that stay in the shade for a good majority of the day, the condition of the road changed to a wetter, soupier consistency. Normally all of this would be frozen and ridable but given that the temps were already in the 40s, not even the shade could keep the road frozen today.





One of the saving graces when riding gravel is that Sir Issac Newton was correct, and maybe a gravel rider himself, when he said "What goes up, must come down.", for all the effort you put into getting to the top of the next hill, you are rewarded with an effortless, high speed descent down the other side.


Sometimes on the down hill side of a particularly steep bugger, you start to wonder if perhaps you really can fly?!? Alas the closest we ever really get to flying is the hum of those big tires on the gravel as gravity propels you onward towards the next uphill section.




The closer to Garland we got the worse the roads got, both in terms of sloppiness and steepness and we began to encounter some of the baby Alps.


The final push up 182nd to Old Mill Rd was the worst of them and was almost an unridable mess.



Safely in Garland, we decided that a stop at the Outlaw Steakhouse and Saloon for lunch was in order. I have been here one other time and have never been disappointed in the quality of food or service, their steak sandwich or steak dinners are pretty darn good and hit the spot after 25 miles of gravel plus their is just something special about a small town bar.



While filling up on food and beverage we decided that a return trip the way we came was not desirable by anyone so we took the paved county road 196 to Hwy 34 and headed back to Lincoln for a nice 50 mile ride on a nice 50 degree day.


A huge thanks goes out once again to all of those who came out on the ride, weather was beautiful even if the roads weren't but you guys and gals rocked it anyway. There will not be a SMNDFBR next week so you can all come out and enjoy the Frosty Bike Ride, nor will there be one the following week because I'll be up in Minnesota racing in the Frozen Forty Fat Bike race.

Also anyone missing 3/4 of a Roadmaster bicycle, it's sitting at the top of the Superior St./I-180

Sunday, January 24, 2016

SMNDFBR - The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway


It was a tale of two Saturday's, last Saturday was actually colder than this Saturday but with the 20+ mph winds out of the south the "feels like" temps yesterday were down into the single digits for a good portion of the ride. It was definitely one of the colder Saturday Morning No Drop Fat Bike Ride and the numbers reflected that as we only managed eight of us on this frigid ride.


The ride out to Wilderness Park was straight into the wind, luckily the trees did a really good job of knocking down the wind so once in the trees things were much nicer.


I had heard reports of the Park being really icy and while there was some ice in a few spots it was covered by a fairly firm layer of snow that had plenty of traction. Some caution was still needed but as long as you paid attention to the obvious signs of a particularly slick section, skids, snow angels, etc. you were fine.



Despite the wind and the chill, it was actually a really great day to get out and ride. Looks like the temps this week are going to be much warmer than last making riding even better for the week to come.


Of course I also had to check out the new Salsa Deadwood that arrived at the shop this week, if you're a tall drink of water and you're in the market for a gravel/adventure/bikepacking/single track plus sized bike; this might be a good place to start looking. Size is 20" and there is just the one and  probably won't be another anytime soon they have been that popular.


Last but certainly not least, I was gifted this bag from Cycle Works! It's the Camelbak Skyline 10LR, the LR stands for Low Ride which is designed to keep the water low around the lumbar area. On initial inspection, there seems to be quite a few interesting and intriguing features, I'll share some thoughts on the bag after I've had a chance to use it for a bit but it seems like Camelbak stepped up their game o this one but will it beat out my venerable Osprey Raptor?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

SMNDFBR - Slip Sliding Away to Eagle

Yesterday was the first really cold SMNDFBR of the season where temperatures started well below freezing and stayed below the freezing mark the entire time. Remarkably we still managed to wrangle up a bakers dozen for the ride. 


There has been snow on the ground for quite awhile now since it's been so cold, unfortunately that snow was very wet and formed a lot of ice before it turned over to drier flakes. This has caused a considerable amount of icing on untreated surfaces, Wilderness Park is no exception so it was decided that it'd be safer to ride gravel out to Elmwood instead. 

City streets and paved trails were in good shape and mostly ice free, the same could not be said for the small section of the David Murdock trail east of 84th street. Because of the shade there were several sections that were skating rinks, much like the one pictured here. Fat Bike tires are not immune to ice and perhaps we were a little bit too confident in their abilities because we had a 4 bike pile up at this very spot, given how close we were to each other and the fact that there was zero grip on the ice, I'm really surprised it didn't take out all of us. Good thing we took a route intended to avoid the ice...

A quick bike and rider check revealed that both bikes and riders were all good to go, being in the middle of the synchronized ice ballet, I can't really say what it looked like but I've been told it was  rather graceful as far as crashes go. 





After our little spill we decided to alter the route a little bit and get over to Havelock rather than stick to the Murdock trail, gravel heading east was in great shape and the sun even managed to come out and warm things up nicely. It was a great day to be out on a bicycle even with the chilly temps. 

Rasta Riders!!

Attempting an Elmwood ride this soon after the holidays and this early in the season might have been a little over ambitious so it was decided that Eagle would be plenty of gravel this day. 

Small town gas stations and bars just aren't the same as they are in bigger cities and they tend to become the meeting places for the community as well. I am sure we were probably displacing the old dudes of Eagle, Saturday morning coffee and gripe session and for that we are truly sorry old dudes of Eagle but we needed a little warming up before heading back. 

I don't make it into many of these... mostly because I have the camera and because I always look like that weird, unkempt uncle that every family has but nobody wants to admit to but Scott felt I needed to have my fuzzy mug in the pictures, so really it's Scott's fault you had to see this. 



Took A Street back to Lincoln, yes A Street is a dirt road east of 120th, a found our friend the headwind. It's probably a good thing we didn't continue out to Elmwood, the temps started to drop and the flurries started up shortly after we left Eagle. Thankfully we made it back to Lincoln before it got too bad and nobody slipped on anymore ice. Thanks to all who made it out yesterday and to all of those who continue to come out when they can and help to make these rides so amazing.