3/20/14

Spring has sprung!

At least according to the equinox, today is the 1st day of Spring.  We're due for temperatures to hit 60 degrees this afternoon with sunny skies.  It could be a nice day for a bike ride after work!!  On tap for today is 5 x 8 Zone 4 intervals which, if you remember from my post below, that's the feel bad hard training zone.  Today is the inauguration of our new Simpson College President, Jay Simmons at 2 PM at the First United Methodist Church in Indianola.  Faculty will robe and be in attendance for the event while all afternoon classes are canceled.  There is a reception following at the Kent Campus Center - so it should be a nice day for this important event.  I'll take my ride following as the warmer temperatures should be around 5 PM.

Looks like the nice day we will have today as well as the favorable temperatures tomorrow will yield back to winter like weather for the weekend and most of next week as the mercury goes back into the 30's for highs.  More time on the trainer in the basement, so no problem here.  Ah...I won't put the snowblower away for the season just yet...

My gravel tires should arrive today and I look forward to seeing if they fit, and if so - how they perform compared to what I have been using.  I've been hitting some nice miles on my 25mm road tires due to the gravel still being in primo winter condition (as in they have not been out to grade or dump gravel to mess things up yet).  Before that, I had the Continental Twister Pros on which were not as "soft", but did offer the side knobs for a bit more sure footing.  The current gravel conditions will all change soon as the party gets spoiled and the ice cube size chunks get dumped and the graders come out to turn hard pack into drift and pray pack.

I guess I have not really worried too much about what kind of bike to ride on the gravel around here.  My mountain bikes work as does my Roubaix road bike.  I've blogged before that I learned to ride a bike in the 1960's on gravel only as I lived in a small South Dakota town that had all gravel streets.  Only the county highway that passed through town was paved - and we did not ride on that.  So my childhood riding knew nothing but gravel.  We all had bikes which were our main mode of transportation for a small town and getting around as a kid.  I rode to school, to friend's houses, "downtown", to piano lessons, out into the country to check my gopher traps on a daily basis.  I would be hard pressed to say that any of us worried about what we were riding.  We just rode.  And rode.

The next portion of my life that involved a lot of gravel riding was in Austria for the better part of a decade.  We lived just 2 blocks from the top of this picture.  The gravel roads/walking paths that went through the vineyards allowed us to enjoy going on foot or on bikes daily it seems like...

bikingviennawoods

Going in the other direction from our house and up the hills and deep into the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald) was an amazing network of gravel doubletrack called Fortstrasse(n)...

biking-viennaWoods

This is where I spent a lot of time including doing rehab on my first torn knee from playing basketball.  The gravel roads led me to discover singletrack and thus began my interest in mountain biking.  The Vienna Woods are haunting, beautiful, and provided endless kilometers of gravel as well as singletrack for me...

WienerwaldFortstrasse

People rode whatever bike they had on the gravel paths/roads throughout the Vienna vineyards and woods.  Hybrids, road bikes, mountain bikes, kids bikes, it was all golden.  I had a rigid fork Trek bike with hybrid tires on it as well as a Trek 8000 XC hardtail bike that I would use for going up into the woods to hit the singletrack.  The XC bike got hundreds of hours climbing and descending those wonderful, and scenic Forstrassen.

We have some nice hills here in Warren County, but nothing like the Vienna Woods where there were 20 - 40 minute sustained climbs with the rewarding descents where speeds and length of the descents required me to run 185mm rotors front and rear on my Avid Mechanical Disc Brakes.  No such need here in Iowa for such powerful braking.

I do enjoy riding three prime things here in Iowa.  The paved bike paths because it removes the danger element of interfacing with cars/trucks (except at road crossings).  Singletrack/doubletrack.  And the gravel roads - again for the scenery and relatively safer element than riding on paved roads where there are so many cars and trucks.  To coin a phrase from Brian Pottorff - "run whatcha brung" - is my motto for riding around here and I don't worry too much about which bike I reach for to do a ride (unless it is an XC race).  However, all of that being said, I am curious how these new tires will feel and perform on the Roubaix for gravel riding due to the current conditions on gravel not lasting once the graders and dump trucks hit them.

Happy Spring Everyone!!!!

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