I’m no expert on enemas or on heroin usage (thankfully), but I would almost have to think that the first ride on skinny(er) tires after a long winter of riding slow, fat, knobby, studded tires would compare to that of a Mark Renton approved heroin enema. Maybe I should just say that getting out today on skinny 35c tires (hey, that’s like a 23c to me!) felt pretty amazing compared to the past four months of riding tires so fat they make me look skinny? Either way, it felt good to get out.
As I thought, the roadside ice receded through the warm afternoon hours yesterday, and the above freezing temperatures last night helped keep the black ice at bay this morning. That meant I was finally able to get out for a ride today on a bike with tires narrower than four inches for the first time in months.
I assumed the dirt roads would have a plethora of slop, so my plan was to do one of my Better Than The Trainer™ rides north of town which also doubles as the course for the Plèasant – Bêal – Plèasant spring semi-classic [that’s totally made up to make me feel better about a short, shitty road ride and my now pathetic existence as a cyclist]. P.B.P. is a quick, sub-thirty mile ride that could be done entirely on pavement, with an option to add in a two-mile stretch of dirt road if the conditions permit.
As soon as I pulled out of my driveway and onto the pavement it was like I had a 33 pound fat bike lifted off my shoulders… or removed from under me! [see heroin enema metaphor above].
I rolled the Jake with the Clement X’Plor USH 700 x 35 tires that I mounted a month or so ago when I prematurely prepared the Jake to list on Craigslist and eBay. I picked the tires up last year, rode them once and hated them. After that one ride I believe I said something akin to “I thought they would roll fast on pavement, but they felt sort of sluggish (despite the smooth center ridge)” and “I thought they could handle the Mighiganderburgh dirt roads, but I kept wanting more.” While I still think they aren’t plush enough for my style of dirt road riding, they handled the Plèasant – Bêal – Plèasant ride just fine; eating up the shit pavement with ease and getting me through a two-mile stretch of a muddy dirt road well enough. These tires would NOT be my first choice for extended dirt and gravel road riding, but for rides like today they were good enough.
While this was only a short ride, it was nice to ride the Jake (The Snake) and feel pretty comfortable on it. I’m not running back to it with open arms just yet, but I was happier on it today then I was all of last year. Granted I was on pavement 98% of the ride, but still, it’s an improvement.
The melting snows revealed even more Popov bottles than usual along the roads today. Popov seems to be the alcohol of choice for rural Michigan road travelers. It’s comforting to know that so many of our local motorists are fucked up on vodka as they drive, and nicer still that they choose to throw their empties out the window.
When I arrived at my turn off to avoid a two-mile stretch of dirt road I looked ahead and saw that the road was surprisingly dry. There were more than a few craters and pot holes but pretty dry. So I chose to happily carry on along the seemingly dry dirt. As you can see, the dry road didn’t last. I cut through the mud pretty easily though and was back on pavement soon enough.
Spring is surely not here for good–that doesn’t happen here in Michigan until about June– but it sure felt like it today and I plan to take advantage of the improving conditions as much as I can over the next five days or so.
Once home and cleaned up I had time to get a chicken breast in the oven to have along my new favorite side dish snack– kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes. That made for a pretty tasty lunch.
I had a blast riding my fat bike this winter and love that it allowed me to get out once or twice a week throughout most of the winter’s ice and snow, but I would be straight up lying if I said I wasn’t happy to be riding on dry roads on a lighter, faster, more efficient bike! I’m sure I’ll do some rambles on the fatty here and there in the coming months, but it’s good to be riding “skinny” again… now if I could just get ME skinny again!