Despite its brevity, February in Michigan can be a long, depressing bastard of a month. February lodges itself in between the death-like acceptance of winter that January offers and the hopefulness of spring that March provides. Most often it’s bitterly cold, windy, and blanketed with ice and snow. However this February was not “most often.” We had several days of temps between 45˚ and 60˚, very little snow, and just a hint of ice at the beginning. While I am the first to admit that it should not be 55˚ in February, I am in no way going to complain about the ability to log over 265 miles as I attempted to jump start my fitness and hopefully some weight loss.
For the serious cyclist and racer, there is nothing impressive about nine rides and 265+ miles over a 23 day period (so far); good thing I’m neither of those things any longer, because I was super happy with the ability to get out as often as I did, lose a few pounds (6), and snap a few photos.
Monday’s ride was a 30 mile mostly paved road ride from the house that avoided all dirt roads save for a two mile connector dirt road that was riddled with pot holes and standing water. I made a mental note to not attempt any more dirt road rides until things dry up a bit. Sadly, it seems I don’t have a very good memory, because on Wednesday I headed out into the dense fog for an attempted dirt road ride.
Heading north things seemed OK so I kept on going. Then things got bad, worse, worser, and suck filled. After 15 miles of deep, gritty mud, I jumped onto paved roads for another 10 or 12 miles to finish off the ride.
Spending an hour cleaning my bike, doing laundry, and picking mud out from various orifices was a solid reminder to STAY OFF THE F*CKING DIRT ROADS come Thursday.
Thursday was a bit cooler with a 42˚ ride time temp and a north/east wind coming directly off the witch’s teat, but I got in a 40+ mile paved road loop, hit some roads I haven’t been on in a while, and nabbed a few photos.
This was the first ride that I utilized Outer Shell Adventure handlebar bag that I recently ordered. When I first got it I was a bit concerned that it would be too small to fit my needs, and it is too small to haul my Nikon D7100 with 18/200 lens, but it is the perfect size for my Fuji X-T1 with a 55/200 lens (or smaller).
The bag attaches to the bar securely, sinches tight with a drawcord, and its cover features a rip cord that hooks around the stem to keep the elements out and cargo in. I was super happy with how it performed and how quickly I was able to get my camera out to get a shot without fumbling with a zipper. I’d love to get one made that is a few inches bigger so as to hold my Nikon.
Within two miles of the ride I saw my first Red-winged black birds of the year. In my mind I started thinking about some of the photos of them that I was lucky enough to capture in the past, and thought about using a “file photo” for this upcoming post. Then about twenty miles later, as I passed a small frozen lake, I came upon few more in the reeds and was lucky enough to snag another one. File photos be damned!
The joy of hitting some newer roads, or at least roads I haven’t been on in a long time, is finding new subjects to shoot. Such is the case with the barn above.
When I returned from my 40 mile ride last Saturday I was a bit concerned about my fitness. As I pedaled into my driveway after Thursday’s 40 miler, I felt like I still had some left in the tank. That felt good, and has me hopeful for more consistent 50 mile rides once spring REALLY arrives.
The weather for Friday and Saturday looks shit, but I am hopeful to squeeze in a few more rides before February leaves us. I’m just hoping that March doesn’t come in like a bitter, bad haired, orange POTUS, spewing intolerance, hate and ignorance in the form snow, ice, and a lack of riding!