Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Bee's Knees of Winter Riding.

We don't have much for elevation here in the Midwest. What we do have is wind and snow. When the two mix it isn't much fun but with out it, it wouldn't be the same.

I do like the freshly fallen powder snow, especially when I sail through it on my single speed set up. This weekend I had plans to go mountain biking on trails in Palos but when I woke up to see a nice blanket of snow on the ground below, I scratched that idea because I do not know those trails well enough. What I do know is the Centennial Trail to the Waterfall Glen snow ride loop that Gary and I found last year.

The C trail is paved. This makes for smooth sailing. Although cadence in the snow on a single speed bike is about 60-70rpm with a 38x18. After crossing Lemont Rd. you start a short climb into Waterfall Glen, the back way. This leads you up to the air plane hill which has a switchback descent. The trail ends with a steep climb up the hidden hill and ends on little Bluff Rd.

From my house the route is only 30 miles but well worth the solid tempo pace, having to work for it the entire time.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Connecting Paths Early in the Year

I was looking forward to connecting different path systems this weekend for a long and enjoyable ride. In the past I have been on most of the trails but really never rode them in a continuous loop. This proved to be an adventure worth embarking.

The ride.

This route is comprised of crushed limestone and paved paths. The crushed limestone parts are secluded and make you work for your speed. The paved sections have nice scenery but have potential to be crowded on days with nice weather. There is a residential area that you will ride through but the streets are wide enough to ride two abreast comfortably.

When I left the house my mind was flooded with the ride from the day prior. It was a little windy which made it feel colder than what it really was but when the wind was at our backs it was rather pleasant. For whatever reason I thought today would be the same, well it wasn’t. An hour into the ride my bottles froze and my clif bar was iced-solid. I rode many times in the cold but I haven’t had my drinks freeze in about 2 years. I guess because I wear a camelbak when the temperatures dip below freezing. This totally slipped my mind completly. So I drank some slush as a found my way through the snow covered trail.

I soon met up with the Prairie Path and headed over to the Fox River Trail cruising down the river. I liked the trail. Some of the turns were tight and I know of the potential for it to get crowded in the summer. I followed the trail and when I got to the fork in the road I took the Batavia Spur.

I haven’t been on this part of the trail before and it actually made my day. At this time I still failed to stop at a store to get some fluids in my system and at 3 hours plus, I was way over due. There are many spots to stop along the Fox. The Batavia spur cut through residential areas and bordered Fermi Lab all on crushed limestone. Soon I found myself paralleling the East-West Toll way 88. I never knew this existed. This trail exited on Diehl Rd. which gave me the option to go up Wheaton or south to North Aurora. Neither of them was where I wanted to go so I took residential streets through Naperville, Lisle, and Downers Grove to get home.

I have plans on doing this route again. Today it took 4.45hr for 72, mainly off road, miles. Most likely I will do it when my bottles do not freeze.

Flatlandia to Hold Circuit Race

As the search party dreamt of a race to sanction and what wonders they would find, snow fell on what would be the route determined. Jason. Ted and I met up in Rural Illinois, 75 miles west of the city, in a small town called Leland. Oddly enough, it is right down the street from where I grew up.

We met up in their downtown across the street from Casey’s.

It didn’t take too long to find a suitable course for us to race on. In all actuality it is very flatlandia because of its flat farm roads with very natural turns and a stretch of gravel with a small riser.

We got out to pre-ride the course. I brought along the GT GTR cross bike with a 42 tooth chaining caressed by double chain guards and a 12-27 in the back and file tread tires. Jason had his surly cross check running a single speed 42x16 with full on fenders. Ted was straddled his full carbon BH Connect team bike.

The roads were covered in an inch or so dusting of snow. This proved to be adventuress for our man Ted as he slid through the corners like a dirt bike racer on an oval track.

Le Course

A roll out from Leland High starts this 10 mile circuit race that heads west on 47th street. Flying down farm roads you parallel a freight train and blast past a pig farm and some horses. The turns are easy and fast. The course runs clockwise to avoid cross traffic turns. The best part of the course is the gravel road that has a small riser in the middle and is located on the last stretch before you turn onto the slightly uphill finishing straight.

Monday, February 9, 2009

When the Snow Melts

All last week I was looking forward to the weekend. I thought this weekend would give me the opportunity to go into Lemont through the back roads and get in 50 + miles almost car-less. I got out Saturday to recon the Sunday route. Although it was a blast, the snow never melted fully. This left snow/slush in the tree covered areas of the paved route. By the time I got off-road it felt like my rear tire was flat from it sinking into the earth. When I got to the crushed limestone section, which had full tree cover, it was more than a pain to grind up hill in the snow/slush mixture. For what ever reason I left my neoprene socks at home. At 58 degrees I didn't really mind that my feet felt like the were in a margarita but I knew that the following day would be 20 degrees colder and this would be unpleasant.

Sunday. The route was road bound. I still brought the Surly. It was built up with a fixed 38x18 gear, WTB Mutanoraptor 700x45 tires, Truvativ riser bars, and avid 7's mountain bike brakes. Not a bike for the road or a pleasant ride when I am in the company of road bikes. I have the feeling my cadence was well over 120 for the 55 miles we were out. I have to say it was the best workout I got in this year though!

Both days were fun and a pleasant break from the below freezing weather we have had for some time now.

Next week should be awesome!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Better than Sunday Morning Cartoons

Waking up early to watch a live feed,over the internet, of the World Championships of Cyclocross was a treat this morning. Props to Ted Burger and Jason Meshberg for showing me the way to