Up until today, the week has not gone according to plan as far as doing stuff. Monday is always a crapshoot on whether I can get out and this Monday didn’t really cooperate, it was the crap part of the crapshoot. On Tuesday we got hit with some lake effect snow and strong winds so I thought it best to stay off the roads with visibility so low. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it was west of Mt. Peezy but it snowing and blowing hard nonetheless.
The combination of wet snows over the weekend followed by much colder temperatures, wind and snow (every day) this week had me thinking that the dirt roads were probably just about ready to make their change from mud and snow to packed snow and ice. So, I took time Tuesday morning to swap my Bontrager tires out for the 45NRTH Dilinger 4 studded tire. Given what I encountered today, I was correct for having such thoughts and making such changes. BUT, that change came a cost of my time and patience.
The madness had nothing to do with the Dillingers and everything to do with the Bontrager Hodag tires that I was trying to remove. They’re pretty good tires but literally took me nearly two hours to get off the rims. I have never encountered anything like it! After an hour of twisting, turning, thumb ripping and tire -levering I finally broke down and called the shop to see if they had any issues with them coming off. Mike said he had none, so it was back to work where I soaped the rims and then when finally busted out some wrestling moves the bead finally broke free and allowed the tire to come off. The only thing that I can think of is that from all the wet sand, mud and slop I’ve been riding in, it possibly formed some sort of seal? I mean the stuff really can get like cement… OR I just completely lost my mind and ability to do even the simplest of repairs which is also a very, VERY real possibility.
The Dillingers went right on and after a quick test in the icy driveway, I knew I was reasonably ready to hit the snow and ice-covered dirt roads Wednesday/today.
After wasting two hours on a project that should have taken 15 minutes, I had NO desire to run on the treadmill as I had planned, not to mention I was behind on the things I wanted to/needed to get done. “Doing stuff” would just have to wait until Wednesday.
Today would be the coldest, snowiest, iciest ride of the winter thus far, and even though my winter time dirt road rides are usually only between 1.5 and two hours I knew with the temperatures in the low to mid-twenties, I needed to bust out my real winter gear that includes my full face balaclava, goggles and the recently obtained Giro Nine snow sports helmet. Yeah, yeah, I’ve ridden without goggles tons in the past, but learned quickly last year how fast regular cycling glasses fog up and how poorly goggles fit when wearing a cycling helmet. The Nine just makes it easier and more comfortable, the added ear warmth and closable vents are pretty sweet too. Not to mention they sell the lid at Dick’s Sporting Goods and I had a $20 off coupon. Win.
The only thing I really hate about doing these rides is how unsafe I feel during short stretches of narrower paved roads, the dirt roads (especially north of town) are pretty vacant of cars. Today I saw a couple of cars, a woman in van who stopped me looking for her lost dog and the same snowplow (seen above) twice while on the dirt roads. The dirt roads are just so freaking wide there is always plenty of room for passing and in the case of the snowplow, it’s just bigger, so I stop and pull over until it passes. In any event, I always use a rear blinky during winter riding. You never know when a snow squall or blowing snow is gonna kick up and make being seen an issue. Worth the few bucks for a rear blinky. [Note: I often use a small light on the front too, but most often I am more worried about being smashed from behind].
Anyway, the ride was cold but I was still pretty damn warm. It did take while for my hands to warm up, but it always does, everything else was nice and warm, sometimes too warm (if that’s possible!) and left my balaclava an ice coated mess.
There was some drifting in parts but the Farley make nice work of them and while the roads weren’t the solid sheets of ice that that often can be, the roads that were super easy to ride with the studded tires. I was even able to stand to power up a few icy hills, something that I was never able to do without studs. Not to mention I spent WAY less time worrying about throwing my blood thinner taking self down on the hard ice and having my arm swell twice the size with blood, making it look like a giant free-swinging grandma arm as it did back in 2012. With just under two hours on the tires, I don’t want to blow rings of 4″ wide studded rubber up your ass (unless you want me to, I could use the cash), so I will refrain from heaping too much praise on them just yet.
Hope I can get out for another couple of rides over the next three or four days. If not, no big deal, winter won’t be going anywhere soon and sadly neither will I.
Note: photos taken today were with an old crappy digital and my phone. Last ride I almost destroyed my regular camera, wanted to give it a break.