My wife runs a one way shuttle for my buddy Blake and I to the start with the van but we plan to ride home. Fifty miles is not very hard and driving is actually more of a pain in the ass then many people realize. Don't get me wrong, I need a car but I don't enjoy using it for recreation unless I'm camping out of it or hauling a mountain of gear. In the metro cars suck. You have to find a place to leave it.You have to go back and get it or you need to get it from the impound lot or evidence lot depending on luck. You need to stay on roads and if you want to stop and get on the train, they welcome bikes but draw the line at 2500 pound sedans.
I load up on breakfast because if it's like last year we are going to rail on it for close to three and a half hours so I'm going to need the fuel. Pack some snacks and mix up 64oz of sports drink (rhymes with RaterGaid). I pack a backup wool jersey and a few other items to manage a cold weather mechanical and we are off to the start.
Last year we saw maybe 100 riders and it was 80 degrees. This year we got 60 or so and it was 20 degrees with a forecast high of 35. All of these people ride year round so although it's cool, it's nothing new.
Above: This is the alley behind One-on-One Cycle in Minneapolis and that guy is stretching.
We launch and it's easy with speeds below 15mph. A few traffic lights and we are on the first trail.
Above: That's Blake (front right) and the best of trail conditions. Most of these riders are not using studs.
We lead out west to Tonka on the Cedar Lake Trail. Patches of ice take some riders down and slow everyone to a crawl. As far as I know nobody gets hurt in a crash but I think a few fenders got banged up.
Above: Ice comes often and this is an average challenge I'm running studs so it's not hard for me but I don't get too gutsy and grim up every time I have to pass a large patch. Below: The usually hard limestone is mush and we are just making ruts that will damage the trail of others when it dries so we move to roads.
Out on to the roads I flash the camera in several directions to get some extra material to work with and get this rider giving me some entertainment. Right on rider, see you at Bandit Cross!
About this time the pace goes from happy chatting with the rider next to you to crushing hill attacks and flat sprints to the next hill. Speeds move from the easy 14mph range to 19 or more in the flats and hard 16/17 on the hills. I'm panting like a dog at the top and drafting to catch my breath but I'm happy and loving the pain as we crush, hill after hill. I like the hard sprints and going peddle to peddle with anyone willing to give it their all. About this time we shatter the peloton (french for 'little ball') into at least 2 main groups and many shards.
I fall back to find out if Blake is still hanging with the group because he doesn't ride much in winter and at a disadvantage to the main peloton that clearly does. He's not there so I break off and fall back a few minutes and let the second peloton catch me. After some riding with them and finding out what drama happened in the back and when we split I do some counts and realize half of the starting group is gone along with Blake.
After a few texts and calls, Blake and I reconnect at The Depot for a snack. I have to ride on some busy roads with too much ice but with the studs I manage and in 20 minutes we are back together for a 20 mile ride home for him and about 9 more for me. About this time I'm also happy to not have to ride miles back to the city to retrieve my van.
The washroom is interesting. I kind of like the giant face.
After about 4:10.22 and 61 miles I arrive back at home.
This bike is about to pass 2000 miles and I've only had it for a year.
I now need to clean my chain with all this ice and snow I need to use a wet chain lube that works well in the water but leaves a mess.
The spring classic is over and with the cold temps it wasn't the same as last year but it was still a good time to get out on the road and go peddle to peddle with others so early in the season.
And with that, it's time to relax.