With temperatures starting in the low 20 degree range and only promising to drop from there and winds that were forecast to be in the high 20 mph range, it wasn't too surprising that the group was a smaller one yesterday for the SMNDFBR.
It was one of those bone chilling rides yesterday, even started it out with the buff pulled up over the face for protection. Love the concept of these guys but for me the practical use isn't as grand, seems like by the time I get going and breath through the buff for a few minutes all that warm air makes it seem like I'm being water boarded and then the thing has to come off and is more of a neck warmer than a face warmer.
Saturday was no exception, didn't even make it out of town before the buff had to come down and the cheeks were on their own to fend off the cold. Thankfully once the initial shock of the temperature change wears off, my face usually does OK if not charging directly into the wind.
Since the winds were going to be howling out of the north all day, we decided to head mostly east and west to avoid going into the beast as much as possible. So we sneaked through the Allstate Financial parking lot and then through the Firethorn neighborhood to the gravel.
Runza even has a swanky new building out there now, it's been a while since we've gone this route I guess.
If you can successfully navigate the hood however, you pop out on 98th St. which is a gravel super highway, its got to be the widest gravel road near Lincoln. There is also a bit more traffic on it than most gravel roads near the city but it's better than riding the narrow shoulder on the paved part of Pioneers Blvd. from 84th to 98th.
Pioneers isn't the smoothest gravel road around the Capitol City but the last time we took A St. out it was inches deep in new rock and fighting that and the wind just seemed like a bad combination, especially since I opted to take out a skinnier tire bike this week. Even the cows weren't messing with the wind on Saturday, most of them were seeking shelter in groups and hiding behind whatever wind block they could find. Tasty and smart, that's a good combination in a steak.
Bucking that cross wind was not the most pleasant experience I've ever had on a bicycle but it was heaven compared to 190th St. and the almost three and a half miles we had to ride into the wind to get to Eagle. It was one of those rare times when the uphills were nicer than the down hills because you could get some reprieve from the wind by hiding on the incline side of the hill.
Casey's west, not to be confused with Casey's east a block over, was warm and inviting and the mid ride snack really helped to keep the internal fires burning for the ride back.
Initially the plan was to head out on Pioneers and then back on A St. to Walton but there weren't any complaints when I suggested that we reroute to the MoPac on the way back to enjoy some of the cover from the wind that the trail would provide. Even managed a stop at The Hut for a hut Fireball or two to help warm up from the inside.
Shortly after leaving The Hut, the snow started coming down to the point that you would actually say it was snowing. Prior to that there were a few flakes now and again but nothing that accumulated, it was kind of pretty riding on the MoPac with the fresh snow starting to stick and I even managed to work up the starts of a proper snow beard by the time we hit the 84th St. trail head. Everyone was a bit cold so we all decided to end the ride here and forgo any of the usual after ride shenanigans that can and usually do occur; it really was that cold of a day.
As I eluded to earlier with the skinnier tire comment, I recently picked up the Salsa Journeyman as a demo bike and Saturday was the first ride on it so I thought I would share some of my initial thoughts now and then follow up later with a more in depth "review" of sorts after more time on the bike.
First, for that price point I am super impressed with how much you get for the money, this is a worthy gravel rig for under $1600 which is the price point most other offerings start at. I like the 650b wheels personally, they aren't everyone's cup of tea but as a shorter person I think they make sense. Unlike with smaller frames and 700c tires, I didn't have any issues with toe overlap on the bike (toe hitting the front tire while pedaling and turning sharply).
If you're looking for a more upright riding position, this is probably not the bike for you. I would say that, even with a full stack of spacers under the stem, the Journeyman rides more like a traditional cross bike as far as rider position than it does a Fargo or Vaya but not so much so that it puts you in an uncomfortable race position. I would say it gets you far enough over to make you more aerodynamic but upright enough to be in a neutral all day riding position that isn't going to make your lower back scream after a few hours. So far about the only thing I would change about the bike are the handlebars, the Journeyman comes with the Salsa Cowbell bars, these bars are more road like and less adventure or gravel like IMO. I would have liked to have seen it come with a Cowchipper or Woodchipper personally but that is an easy swap if you're like me and not a fan of the more traditional drops. I did like the Volt saddle, not going to win any cool points maybe but it's comfortable and gets the job done, in the long run I'd probably swap it out for the WTB Silverado but if it doesn't get swapped out I'd be OK with the Volt too. I also liked the TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes, they had plenty of stopping power and none of that BB7 squeal that is common with those brakes. I also really like the ease of adjustability on these when it comes time to move the pads in and out in reference to the rotor and with mechanicals that time is frequent. This is something you'll need to get familiar with on mechanical disc brakes to make them run optimally, unlike hydraulic disc brakes, mechanical brakes aren't self adjusting so over time you'll need to move the pad in and that was very simple on the Spyres. If you're looking for an all around bicycle that can handle gravel, cross and everyday life at a price point that won't break the bank, I think that the Salsa Journeyman should make your short list of bikes to look at. It won't have all the bells and whistles of the more expensive ones but I think they did a nice job keeping important parts at a higher level and using some older tech for things like QR over thru axle to save on money. You could do a lot worse and spend a lot more on a bicycle, the Journeyman might be one of the great value bikes currently on the market but you better jump quick as they are ticking up in price each year. Anyway, those are my initial thought on the first ride, I'll try to post something up here in a bit with more thoughts as I get more saddle time on the bike.