Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Ride with No Name

A few weeks ago I stated in There Will Be Mud that the conditions on our area dirt roads will depend on how the weather breaks.  We are in a thaw-rain cycle that is combining with recent conditions to create almost a perfect storm for muddy roads.

In late January we had sub-zero temperatures for several days which froze the dirt down to several feet.  This was followed by nine inches of snow which then melted very rapidly in rain and warmer temperatures.  The problem is that only the top few inches of dirt on county roads has thawed so all of the snowmelt and rain is trapped in those few inches rather than filtering down below the surface.

The rapid melt and recent rains has washed-out many areas on these roads and created some pretty sloppy riding as well. 

Today was a combination of about 28 miles of dirt (mud) and pavement with temps in the low 40s.

In the early part of the ride it was still close to freezing so the dirt roads were still packed and smooth with good traction.  Running the Schwalbe Winter Marathons with studs felt like the smoothest pavement and most supple road tires you can imagine. I hit just over 30 mph in a few sections and it was almost as if I was flying an inch above the road surface - it was that smooth.

The temps warmed as the ride progressed and the fine Palouse soil mixed with the water to make very fine and soupy mud which likes to fly-up and coat the bike and rider.

We are coming-up on a 1,500 mile report for this project and I will provide details as to how the combination of wheels, frame and components are performing at that time.  Until then, suffice it to say that the Dura Ace Di2 7900 is performing flawlessly.  It really does not care if it is covered in mud, sub-freezing deice fluid, ice or goose droppings - it just does what it is supposed to do without fuss, noise or hesitation.

Finally, the smooth riding characteristics made me start thinking about my tire selection when I take the studs-off.  I want a road/Randonneuring tire that I can run tubeless so I am set for road riding, but can jump on a dirt road if the urge strikes me without fear of pinch flats.  There are not many tires that fit these requirements and still feel suitable for spirited road riding so there will be some trade-off considerations.

Two Wheel Transit - Cycling for Life

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