Cold weather and air is adaptable. Getting sick cannot be fun. Constant boosting of my immune system is key to my survival through the Winter commutes. Often, the choice of bike depicts exactly how fast you will get to point B or point C. Weather forecasters and I all suck at predicting the weather. Here in Illinois, the weather forecasts change hourly.
As long as the Winter cyclist is dressed appropriately, the cold shouldn’t truly effect a cyclists well-being. Of course, it is not good for anyone to be out in negative degree Fahrenheit temperatures for longer than 60 minutes.
Layers are more important than bicycle choice. Correct footwear, headwear and handwear are most crucial to comfort.
My commutes range from 6-8 miles to and from 6-8 fro. The time ranges from 20-45 minutes each way. In-between my rides, the work hours range from 7-13 hours. Lights are essentially a must. At the moment, two front (both 700 lumens) and one rear attempt to keep me seen. I have just upgraded to a brighter rear light as I’ve been riding more road lately on my cross bike. The All-Weather hard-case tires are amazing in sloppy conditions. My FatBike, the Arrogant Bastard, is so heavy and slow and hard to commute with unless an utter snow massacre has just happened.
Unfortunately, my rear wheel broke at some point yesterday. The hollowing wind may have silenced the noise of a usual broken spoke for a good while. Not too far from civilization, I brainstormed a way to somewhat secure it so it wasn’t just flopping around. A pre-glued patch mended the floating broken spoke to another. I rode to the nearest town and rode in around 6:30pm. This is where things sprinted downhill. The closest bike shop was 10 miles without any posted hours online nor reviews. My reserved hotel room was 40+ miles south with horrendous headwind remaining.
There were hotel options 5-10 miles from where I was, but do I trust riding on a broken bike? Do I trust riding a broken bike at night? If I stay in a hotel, will this bike shop be open on Easter? Are they able to repair a broken spoke?
I weighed my options and decided to not risk incident nor further damage to the bike and stranding myself further away from civilization in the dark. The decision to cancel the remaining hike of my soloCUBSparade and arrange teleportation home was made. My hotel reservations were non-refundable. My Amtrak ticket was refundable after a fee.
To recap, I went pretty far in a few days as quickly as the elements allowed. I may not have completed, but wow, did I overcome difficult obstacles. I’ve gained knowledge, as well, to better prepare my next bike hike:
- Do not make hotel reservations. Make sleeping arrangements on the road.
- Bring battery backup.
- Carry backup water, always.
- Do not get caught up in tinkering every single road while losing sight on the bigger map.
- Always bring rear lighting.
Check out “soloCUBSparade I” on Relive!
Check out “soloCUBSparade II ” on Relive!
My Garmin died 37.4 km prior to my arrival. I used Strava to map it out exactly. Ride II totaled 192 km (roughly 120 miles), 796 m (2,612 ft.) elevation gain and I’m going to guess around 12 hours of ride time – 14 ish hours of elapsed time.
Check out “Morning Ride” on Relive!
Take the harder road. Strengthen your mind and body by avoiding pampering. Be optimistic and have fun. Life is what you make of it.
RIP, Mike Hall
You truly are an inspiration.
Originally today was going to be my 100+ mile day to honor Mike Hall. This has changed due to the chaos from yesterday. My garmin died, so it’s just my word to prove it. My garmin died around 155 km and the sun died shortly after. It’s easy to quit. It’s easy to think negative. It is difficult to overcome obstacles. Yesterday’s obstacles were sunlight, rain, headwind, traffic, dogs, battery life, mud, wet and loose gravel, boulder loose gravel, Apple maps, and thirst. Mike would be proud.
Apple maps saved my ass taking me away from heavy traffic in heavy rain to take a mud/grass road to safety. Apple maps also helped me get lost and waste time. Apple maps did tell me how to get to my destination.
Something happened that I have never experienced before. I’m not sure if it was survival mode or if I’m finally on a new level. I overcame complete exhaustion and marched on. My saddle sores stopped hurting and I felt absolutely comfortable on my bicycle, in the dark with my light dim to conserve battery life battling vehicle traffic.
I made a badass Ⓥegan western-style skillet last night. This concoction was served in a sorry-tin container that made it even more Westernish. I’ve seen my fair share of Western flicks and how they consume their beans next to the fire before shut-eye, y’all. I went for one of the best rides that I’ve ever ridden today, November 17, 2016, at 60-73℉ in the state of Illinois. The sun was shining and also, the wind was blowing.
I have to try to explain my ride today. Venturing on new roads in this unforgettable mixed surface cycling Gran Fondo, was the goal. I wanted to cross a river that I’ve never crossed before outside of the I&M Canal. That river is the Fox River which starts in Wisconsin and drains into the Illinois River. From the git-go, some drivers were not paying as much attention to the road and me as well as they should. Steering clear of busy roads was another goal. A watery detour was taken to help that goal.
Never will I ever plan my entire ride. There is no fun in that and something always comes up to influence a right instead of a left turn. Choosing to ride into the wind a couple of times instead of taking the easy way out and turning with the wind was extremely beneficial. The results were as if the planets aligned and all luck was on my (drivetrain) side. Being in a new area, yeah-everything was new, but the significance of the new sights were ungodly. I took a few pictures and ultimately am motivated about the next year trek, my #SoloCUBSParade. It is not always about how fast you go, it is about the experience and the journey of doing something great.
Ⓥestern Skillet included boiled and drained Pinto & Northern (Western) Beans, Sweet & Russet Potatoes and Onion. I used Vegetable Oil and sautéed the ingredients in a cast iron skillet. Carrot shreds, Green Peppers, Mushroom, Garlic and PBR were sautéed together first. PBR (Beer) was added with an assortment of seasonings.
The seasonings were SeaSalt/Pepper/ Turmeric/Paprika/ChipotleP/Cayenne/Sugar. Grape Tomatoes, freshly chopped DILL WEED, SmartDog slices, LiquidSmoke & Mustard BBQ sauce were added before baking/broiling a little bit. It pairs well with a cowboy hat and a fire.
I passed a Silica blasting site and took this picture:
To get into a better spot, I jumped over a two-foot fabric fence. While I was standing there, a siren came from a few workers working behind this drop-off. Perhaps, they saw me or they were just jacking around like sometimes we do at my real job. I stepped back and had a snack and then just gave it another look before continuing on my ride when, BOOOOOOOM. A huge explosion erupted and threw dirt/sand/silica high into the air. My heart jumped with a horrifying sense of fright and oddly an engaging adrenaline rush as if I were about to enter battle as the earth rumbled through my feet and through constricting arteries. Basically, I’d feel this same exact way if I were three houses away from an F5 tornado and how I’d feel if I were a deer in the headlights of a 70 mph semi-truck about to be taken off of this Earth. My bicycle helmet would disintegrate.
Have fun, responsibly.
I went to Dixon, IL, yesterday, for a gravel (bicycle) ride which was more of multi-surface ride with a mixture of various levels of gravel and road. It was a great ride, just a shitty day. The wind was windy and cold. The sun was hidden and also cold. I rode 118.7 km (73.76 miles) which did complete Strava’s May Gran Fondo challenge.
I’ve blogged in the past about my difficulties with an athletic watch manufacturer and decided to go the Forerunner route, paying extra money for a Garmin Forerunner 235. It’s pretty sweet. I can track my rides as it is a Garmin. I can track runs, if I ever did run. I do not run. This watch monitors my heart rate and also my sleep.
Last June, I attempted to track exactly what I did that entire month and put it into a blog that no one read.
It is and was extremely hard to monitor sleep manually. Next month will be a different story. Technology is our friend, but it is up to us how close of a friend it will be. But, first June has to get here. And June has to conclude to document an entire month of data and lifestyle.
Yesterday, on this gravel ride, I rode new roads, I drank a couple of new beers, met new people with some of the same passions and I RODE WITH A BULL. I also ate out at a deli, deliciously, confidently Ⓥeganly. The day sums up this way. You take an excellent cut of Bike Ride layered generously, Vegetable genocide of all sorts, being outside in nature with animals and life, garnished with an array of Good Beers adding character and flavor – STUFFED between two pieces of Good Bread. Consumption of a sandwich of this magnitude is VEGGHEAD BEERCYCLIST. And this is the good life.
(No animals were harmed:)
I’m not sure if it’s just Illinois or if it’s the entire midwest. The weather and magnitude of wind has progressively gotten worse and more intense just over a few years. I’m really getting fed up trying to maintain a hobby and lifestyle of cycling in Illinois. And the key to good longer rides is to remain comfortable, whether it be dry, cool and warm enough. It is extremely fun to ride with the wind, but a cross wind or head wind will take a toll at your (my) mind and your (my) body. It is easier to put up with bullshit on a short commute to or from work, but the long rides will never be perfect in Illinois.
I’m going to try and put this month of April frustrations in terms of cycling into words, if possible. In early April, I rode in barely above freezing temperatures counties away from home while the wind happened. The wind happened and destroyed. This wind was so strong. It was swaying trees as if they were rubber and shattering them like twigs in a lawnmower. And the very next day, I rode straight into the wind and it was so difficult and draining that it took me an entire day to travel what should’ve taken 5-6 hours if someone could’ve flipped the off switch to the wind.
I’m not a weak person, physically, but that weekend riding took it all out of me mentally. I did not ride for six days. Six days off of a bicycle is way too long for me. The weather became more normal and I just went about my business, riding a little here and there. Mostly commute rides until my next weekend off where I attempted bigger rides. The wind that Friday cut my bigger ride short and was followed by bike problems ending my ride horribly short. The next day I rode with a friend and grabbed a few beers. It was a good ride and a good day until that person bit the dust pretty hard trying to ride over cleanup attempts of tree debris from the crazy wind weekend that I rode through counties on the I&M Canal.
The next week in April consisted of commutes with some of those commutes taken the long way. I went for a joy ride, maybe two. I worked my ass off and spent some time at the bike shop.
This last week of April has been cold. It has also been windy and extremely uncomfortable. I’ve been commuting strongly and was planning a long ride today, April 30th, to end on a strong note. Nothing will literally dampen outdoor fun like cold rain. I may get out just to get out, but cold rain makes any kind of ride pretty short.
Either Illinois is by far the worst state in the USA in terms of politics and weather or it’s a conspiracy of weeding out the good residents by spraying chemicals into the atmosphere to control the weather like the lucid drugs they feed these Illinois politicians to make sure Illinois is a horrible state outside of Chicago.
Or is this an accidental effect from putting chemicals in the atmosphere from factory farming resulting in this intense Climate Change. Is it windy in the West? Is shit just hitting the fan everywhere and scattering more shit everywhere only spraying that shit farther and farther every time. Is it a cycle of shit? How long before we are knee deep in shit? I want to move to Mars.
I’m ending this month on a salty note, but hard fought, mentally draining and painful kilometers.
(Good) Beer is much like a bicycle ride. They vary from good to bad while diving deeper into the good and the bad, some are ridiculously awful and some are just about perfect. Inside the good ol’ Illinois Valley, are two current breweries that are producing beer. Both, Radium City and Tangled Roots, have their headquarters in Ottawa, IL. Things are looking up for the Illinois Valley, quite possibly for the first time, since the early 1900’s. Nothing is more of a heartbeat to the Illinois Valley than the beautiful Starved Rock State Park, located just Southeast of Utica, IL. This park is unique and stunningly beautiful being beautifully shaped by prehistoric flooding. The landscape around Starved Rock is amazing, as well. Nothing will come close to being as dense of beauty in such a (somewhat) small area as Starved Rock.
Riding bicycles even at barely moderate level, consists of great ups and intense downs as literal as spinning so quickly to move so slow to climb steep elevation and descending in your drops with insane speed, tucking and straight rolling. Things do not always go your way. Sometimes your bicycle breaks. Sometimes you wreck. Sometimes you have a great ride. The wind always blows.
The Illinois Valley has great history and The I&M Canal is still in use by nature and outdoorsy enthusiasts, exercising or just wandering. As constantly riding on this towpath, I can clearly complain of the upkeep of the Illinois & Michigan Canal, but I am biased while continuously utilizing it.
I’m a modest person, however, I have enjoyed many of beers in my lifetime from all over the world. I know good from bad. I know unique from normal. I will not try and bullshit a review as if I have the nose and palate of Superman. Radium City makes good beer. Tangled Roots makes good beer with a higher lever of experimental qualities. Both brewing companies are given a push from me as if they were trying to ride a bicycle without their training wheels for the very first time. Eat, drink and love LOCAL. If you cannot do that, get the fuuuuu out.
I had a bad ride yesterday, yet strangely good. It was funny. I wanted to ride 100+ miles. The wind was strong and I couldn’t do it. My shoes were losing a screw to my right cleat. I was faster than a tractor. I chased a loose dog. I drafted a tractor to beat a bit o’ wind. I was chased by that same dog and his friend. Adrenaline motivation takes place when trying to out-sprint a fast dog(s). I have noticed that if you slow down and communicate with them, they do not assume you are a toy and mostly obey. I became lost and when I found my way (not even where I wanted to be) I could not get my shoe to hold one of my screws embracing my cleat. I took the screw out and threw it in my pocket.I have ridden like this before only to have a ride-ending flat tire. I found out this route would not work and immediately realized that my shoes screw came loose. I could not unclip from the right. I took my foot out of the shoe and tried moving my cleat the degree to disengage from my Crank Brothers pedal. Being a brand new pair, it wouldn’t budge. I spun my shoe free. My ride ended short as my cleat was (and still is) stuck on my pedal.
Today, I hired a dude to come ride with me. I do not own any friends. I payed him in Tangled Roots beers. We were heading back home when he biffed it hard and he could not continue. Luck comes and goes on this I&M towpath. Is it your day or is it mine. #RideOn #GoodPeopleDrinkGoodBeer