You know how it goes... You can only take a few camping trips a year so you plan it out far in advance. As the date gets closer, you have buddies drop out and plans change. You feel the temptation to cancel but want to hang on and push through. Then the week of your trip, a Polar Vortex swoops in a dumps six inches of snow on your destination. We've all experienced that, right?
Saturday night, Jason, Pat and I loaded bikes up on the truck and headed to Red River Gorge, completely disregarding the fact that snow tried to snuff out our adventure.
Our plans did get tweaked. But we held onto the fact that we were going. So we arrived during nightfall and pedaled our way across the crunchy, snow-covered gravel roads.
Pat, armed with his Pugsley, was the most confident in the snow. He was ecstatic to push his bike through the very schtuff it was built for.
I stuck with the new Disc Trucker. Would the Troll have been better? Of course. But I threw on a pair of 2.3" knobbies and made it work. Fully loaded with front and rear panniers, the Disc Trucker was awesome. I'm not sure that this ride would've been possible with rim brakes. But I had enough plushness of rubber under me that this was still rideable.
Jason rode upon his Troll perchance to find a good time. And he surely found it.
Camp was stellar. What's cozier than a warm fire and three men in a two-man tent? Nothing. Nothing is cozier. We stayed warm by chopping firewood, brewing coffee and retelling the lore of Jennifer Lopez's cinematic highlights.
When morning came, we moved slowly, but assuredly to warmth. No one was comfortable at night. But we were mostly warm. Temps dropped to nine degrees but we were well equipped.
When we finally got moving, we warmed up pretty well. I spent most of Sunday's ride with no gloves or head covering. The riding was really awesome. We would wiggle and teeter into a slow fall over and over, laughing hard the entire time. I'm not sure how much mileage we actually covered. But we pedaled for several hours. Our original plan was the ride the loop around the Gorge. But that was a plowed, salted loop and we didn't want to pass up on the awesome snow on the gravel road network. So we stuck around the gravel for the day.
I took way too few photos on the trip. I wish I had thought of it more. The Disc Trucker shined brightly for this function and I barely have the photographic evidence to prove it. I'll do better next time.
But the trip was great. Perhaps, even, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Kentucky rarely gets snow like this. And it would be rare that it would align with my schedule enough to allow a full overnighter within it's midst.
Jason shot a timelapse of the Disc Trucker build from the other night. I'm pleased to say that it looks and feels great. I'm also excited that there's a camping trip on the calendar that should give me the opportunity to break it in properly.
Snow was coming down hard and the bike path was completely white. Good times for a guy on a bike. Eventually, though, the slickeriness got the best of me and I went down. The wind was so strong that, at one point, it swept my front tire out from under me and I found myself tumbling across the pavement.
I was fine. No long term injuries or anything. But to add insult to injury, my fender eventually captured enough snow to completely lock up my front wheel. After turning back to head to the office, I had to keep getting off the bike to clean out the fender. Otherwise, it just kept locking up on me.
It wasn't the most fun ride of the year. But at least I gave it a try!
Riding on this iteration of the LHT is about to come to an end. In the trunk of my car is a brand spanking new Disc Truck frame. And the full run of components and parts on the LHT will be moving over to that frame. So what's to come of this LHT? I've got an internally geared hub, some cruiser bars and fatty tires to make this big guy my foul weather bike. Being that this has been my go-to ride for the last couple years, it's strange to change it. Why mess with a good thing, right?
Yesterday presented an opportunity to ride a 20ish miler in my back yard of Jessamine County. Jason joined me for a scouting trip to one of my favorite destinations.
There's a little road called Brumfield Lane that offers up some great views (along with great climbing) followed by a fun creek crossing.
Normally, the water is flowing slowly right around knee level. I've even crossed when the water was nearly up to my waist. But yesterday it was super high and really fast.
These trees are normally on the bank of the water, not in the water.
Since water was up, there were several little tributaries, which are usually dry, that held water. We took that opportunity to do a little exploring.
Then we had to slog our way back up the mountainside. You can see right behind Jason that the road just drops off completely. More fun riding down than up!
It was a great ride, though. Jason and I weren't both on our road bikes (me on the Cross Check). It feels so fast and responsive. But I always keep that boy scout mindset. I want to be prepared for anything. While riding through those creek beds full of water, I was longing for the 2" tires on the LHT. The thin-to-me 28mm tires on the Cross Check didn't like those rocky creek beds so much. But it certainly feels better on the pavement!
A new record is on the table for me as of yesterday. The temps were at -3 with a windchill of -20 when I pedaled my way into work. Before that, my coldest commute was 7 degrees. So I'm pleased that I made it work on such a cold day. I'm guessing I might not have that opportunity again any time soon!
I think I dressed perfectly for the ride. If anything, I could've added a down vest under my jacket. There were a couple times that the wind bit me on the back a bit. But it never became a deep cold that even caused a shiver. Everything else was great. I was able to ditch small outer layers like ear covering and an extra buff on my face. But, by doing so, never overheated either. I was pleased with my choices (albeit a bit worried going into it since I had never ridden anything that cold before). One highlight worth sharing; hand and toe warmers. No shame in sticking these in each glove and boot. I think that's what made it work for me. I don't have gear that will take me to sub-zero temps on their own. But those little bad boys kept me cozy in what I did have.
We'll see if I get any rides as cold this week. But let's hope this is all over.
Yesterday, Jason and I headed out in the freezing rain to log in some miles on the Trolls. We knew that the comfort level may be lesser than a normal ride but that's part of the deal. We had a great discussion about how easy it is to only ride when it's easy. If I look back on the last six months or so, I've really been avoiding bad weather, inconvenient timing or slogging around on the bike when I don't feel physically up to it. But this last week I was hit with a kidney stone (boo), and thus the secondary realization that I have high blood pressure (double boo).
So I've decided that I just can't wait anymore. I can't wait until I feel great. I can't wait for perfect weather. I can't wait for my schedule to clear. I can't wait to fix that clicking sound on the bike. I can't wait for someone to join me. I can't wait until my enthusiasm increases.
I just can't wait. I need to get on the bike and ride it. So today, with temps at the freezing point and water falling from above, we pedaled our fat tired bikes around Jessamine County.
We stopped twice. Once for scenery...
...and once for coffee.
Coffee, perhaps, may be the carrot to lure me out of the house on days like today. The riding was fine. A little nippy at first on the face, but totally doable. But to stop, sit and sip that coffee sure does make the ride improve.
One thing is for sure, though. I need to stay on the bike and keep riding. I can't wait for the perfect opportunity. With four kids and each of them getting into more and more stuff, it may take a lot more work. But I'm learning that putting in that effort isn't an option.