First ride of the year

The roads were pretty sloppy today and the wind, coming out of the west, was stiff. Crossing the railroad bridge as I headed out of town, the walk was still about a foot and a half deep with snow and I had to wheel my bike across. But the pavement was clear except for the lakes of meltwater and mud, which left sprayed muck all over the frame of my bike, my feet and legs and back and bags… well, essentially everything and everywhere.

But after a month of riding on the trainer indoors and bored to tears, I found myself on the road again, and that was good.

As I passed by the ponds and rivers surrounding the softball complex, I was startled to see people standing around on the frozen surface, holes drilled in the ice with rod and reel in hand. Ice fishing in Missouri? Unheard of!

Still, there is a real beauty to be found in the waves and patterns and rills frozen in time in the solid ice and windswept snow. The creeks and bridges and farmland look as though they are coated with frosting.

I love riding the old highway along the Missouri River. Hell, I love riding, period. But still, this is a great ride and I do it often. I hadn’t planned to ride very far today – it’s the first of the year, after all – but once I the wheels hit the pavement it was kind of tough to turn around. Five bikes got pulled out, four of which I never had any intention of doing more than riding around the block. These were my winter projects and I wanted to ensure that the brakes were grabbing and the gears shifting from one cog to the next. Bike Number Five, however, is my winter bike – a 1995 Fuji 25th Anniversary Edition “mountain bike.” I don’t know if I’d ever try doing much off road riding on it with no suspension whatsoever, but it’s a decent enough touring bike because I’ve outfitted it with front and rear racks, panniers, and a Carradice Super C handlebar bag. The cantilever brakes are very “grabby,” even when wet, and it stops fast.

Fat road tires provide me with a comfortable ride, but as I discovered this afternoon, the Continentals I currently have mounted have a reputation for being difficult to seat properly. Looking down at the front tire as I bounced along the road I grew concerned about the irregularity of spin and I immediately presumed (without checking it out, of course!) that the wheel had grown out of true. So after my ride I pulled the wheel and drove up to the local LBS. Ten seconds on the truing stand confirmed that the wheel was OK but the tire needed to be seated properly.

Ugh. Embarrassing. Next time, I’ll spin the damn thing first to see if the problem is as visually evident as this one was. So, tomorrow I will pull the tire and re-install properly. I’ll probably need to hose things down too.

The road sort of came to an end near the little town of Missouri City, which presented me with a fun photo op.

The snow has us all weary and hoping for an early Spring. Meteorologists, for all of their misstated forecasts this winter, are calling for a week of weather in the 50’s, which I will optimistically – and, perhaps, euphemistically – choose to believe this one time. The pavement will take a while to clean up, especially with the snow melting away. We’ll have rain to contend with, not to mention the Ides of March, or at any rate, the winds.

Nevertheless, it was good to be outside riding today. My body craves a more strenuous workout than the trainer can provide (and certainly more stimulating!); I miss being out and riding in the daylight too.



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