After no measurable snow for weeks, high temperatures above freezing and my pinch flat on the John Wayne/Iron Horse Trail I decided it was time to switch back to the tubeless short block 8 cyclocross tires until winter decides whether it has more in store this year.
At the same time, I had the chain checked and was surprised that it had only lasted about 1,000 miles before it was worn-out. I guess all that dirt, deice, and torque take their toll on the moving parts. Be sure to get the chain checked often if you want to avoid a costly cassette replacement with a cross bike.
The set-up was perfect for a whatever comes my way ride so I started-out with a few miles south on Hwy 27 just to get the legs warmed-up and then hopped on a dirt/gravel road that has some wicked rollers for about 6 miles.
There was a good bit of sand on the shoulders of the paved road from snow removal and deicing activities from prior snowfall but no ice to be found. The sand was not deep enough to pose a problem for a standard road tire, but the wider footprint of the Kenda tires felt reassuring nonetheless
Once I turned west on to the 6 mile section where Elder Road is dirt and gravel I was happy to have the higher volume, wider contact patch, lower pressure (55 psi) and supple sidewalls of the Kendas. The road was actually very smooth with a thin layer of mud and water on top. The tires hooked-up wonderfully and rolled well on the dirt/mud. The block provided plenty of grip for turning, braking and out-of the saddle climbs without being bumpy or noisy once back on the pavement. Also there are a few washboard sections and I was glad have some give in the tires and a well dampened frame so my dental fillings did not come popping out.
We have been having some freezing fog around here for the last few days which makes for some pretty dramatic frost covered features. By the way, I learned that prolonged exposure of disc brake rotors to freezing fog conditions can lead to some uncomfortable moments when you need them. Apparently a thin layer of ice forms on them (and everything else) so when you pull the levers - nothing happens with respect to slowing your momentum.
The trick as I learned under duress is that you grab them BEFORE you need them so you can start generating some heat and melt the ice. This will help increase your riding pleasure and decrease your time in the ER.
If the winter weather returns I will be faced with the choice of remounting the studded tires or trying to gut it out on cross rubber. Until then I will be enjoying playing in the dirt.
See you out there.