The weather was beautiful today, 83 degrees, and no wind. Two months ago I posted a ride on Strava that I named “easy 40 after work” in which 40 referred to 40 minutes. Many folks thought I meant 40 miles, and at the time, I didn’t know if I would ever complete a 40 mile ride again. Well last night I posted up 42 miles, and it felt very good to do so. I’m a little tired today, but not broken completely, and all I can say is tangible progress is a fantastic feeling.
Clint Eastwood (The Gorillaz song, not the actor)
I’ve been in the Army for 23 years, I’ve been a paratrooper for 22 of them. If I’ve learned anything from 22 years of jumping out of military aircraft, its that you don’t make the weather decision until the weather forces you to. I planned to knock out 30-ish miles yesterday, over a route that had been bouncing around in my head all week, and I was determined. THAT being said…this looked pretty ominous…
As I said though, I was determined. So I rolled, and took advantage of a not insignificant tailwind for the first few miles, as I stayed on the leading edge of the storm. The entire time I was receiving weather updates via twitter, and the occasional admonishment from the wife for being dumb enough to try to ride in this…
Right around here, the skies opened up on me, and all the rain in the heavens fell at once. Rain isn’t automatically a show stopper, but this was so heavy I couldn’t see ten feet. I pulled into a gas station and hid under the canopy while the wind whipped at 30 mph and the leading edge blew through. Once that passed I was able to get going again in not much more than a sprinkle, and I figured I could still squeeze in 20 or so. As I came up on Jollyville Road, I realized it was dark again, and I checked the radar to find that I was about be hammered. I kinda waffled on my decision, thinking “it can’t be THAT bad” til lightning struck close aboard, like 300 feet away, and discretion took the wind out of my dumbassery and I headed straight home with a quickness. All said, I got in a bout an hour of actual riding, and got through it without being fried by a million of watts of nature’s love. The weather is beautiful today though, with a predicted high of 83 and no wind to speak of, so perhaps it was serendipity.
I’ve followed this kid for years, since he came into AMA Superbike, and its particularly tragic to me that he was killed in an auto/bike collision.
The next step is to pick up the 40s and set them up tubeless.
I’d been wanting to ride at Fort Polk for a while now, but timing and transportation just hadn’t worked out until this last trip. My friend Patrick was there for a few weeks and he had brought his cross bike
(a Trek Boone
). He has been riding daily, and texted me to let me know he found a few cool gravel trails, and some fire roads that would be suitable for a good time, so I prepped up Zoe (my Kona
). I had some really good Continental Cross Speeds on the bike all winter and they were getting a bit bare, so I swapped on the Gravel King SKs
I’ve been sitting on for a few months (more on those later…), cleaned her up some, and changed out the mount for my ELEMNT to the “Out Front”.
We kicked off right in front of the billeting Patrick is staying in, so we were on pavement for the first few miles, then we picked up the gravel path
that runs the length of post. There were some seriously fun swooping sections, switchbacks, a rail crossing, a couple of ponds, and plenty of shade to make the oppressive Louisiana humidity bearable. I broke off down a couple of the dirt roads, and I wish I had more time to ride those, they were really nice, smooth, hard pack, and fast. Overall it was a cool ride, though short. Next time I do it I’ll build in more time for the side roads, and a spin around the airfield to get some legit miles in. See the Strava page here
As far as the Gravel Kings go, they are fantastic tires. All the supple side wall I had read about, and really good traction. Even on the asphalt, there was no buzz or hum, and they just felt like good road tires. I ran them at 40 psi with standard cross tubes in them (that I didn’t powder for whatever reason), though I’m looking forward to setting them up tubeless. I think honestly that once setup tubeless, they will make the bike almost perfect for the kind of random riding I do most.
We got all of the rain. And the wind. And the lightning.