St. Paddy’s Day Riding

My rest stop gave me a chance to warm up cold fingers, lean the bike up against a tree surrounded by verdant green moss, and quickly rough out this sketch in pencil. Gloves off, my fingers began to cramp almost immediately and I waited until I returned home to ink the lines.

I’m not certain why I chose to ride the Katakura Silk on this particular route. Probably, I’m just sort of enamored with the bike at the moment, it being the most recent of my projects to reach a state of completion. The gearing (52/46/36) certainly isn’t low enough for lots of comfortable gravel climbing, nor are the 700 x 25 tires anywhere close to wide enough to handle even the moderately light gravel I encountered approaching this old one room country school house.

Because there was still a bite in the air, I’d donned a pair of wool knee socks with my riding knickers – a smart move, as it turned out. The dumb move was wearing my Keene winter cycling shoes: They work great clipping into SPD pedals, but they’re too robust and round to comfortably fit into the pedal cages on this bike. The straps rubbed against the crank arms, and I pedaled each stroke on the rather uncomfortable section of my foot just below my toes.

I don’t aspire to be a “gravel grinder,” and the whole concept of riding mountain bikes, cycle-cross, or those really fat-tired bikes in general simply doesn’t appeal to me.

I like roads. I like connecting one town to the next, one group of houses to another, linking farming communities, and exploring the overlooked worlds in between. Sometimes that means leaving pavement behind though, and that’s when I really appreciate the stability and ride of my Boulder Brevet or the comfort of my Raleigh International IGH conversion.

It’s Spring Break and it’s also St Patrick’s Day, and I’ve chosen to be out here, far from the pubs and parades and carousing that seem to be inseparable from these truly Americanized drinking holidays. Out here, the cold is palpable, and even somewhat miserable to be honest. But it’s great feeling so alive, and it’s wonderful to be out here in the miserable bite of the winds, the mud, and the chill.

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