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