Sunday, January 23, 2011

Holland Frozen Hell

We did an RCCS ride yesterday out of Holland, IN with the intent of doing 50 miles deep into gravel territory, but with the added wrinkle of 5" of snow on the ground (Group pics here). I was as nervous about this ride as any; the conditions scared me with thoughts of plowing through deep snow and of the inability to keep up with a group of joiners from another local club. Those guys turned out to be great fun. I had a really good day and felt strong up until the last couple miles. I cleared all the hills using a variety of granny and middle rings on the 29er and didn't have any hand discomfort until the bitter end. The Jones Loop is a solid bar and I liked using it for the outer leverage fighting snow lines. I'm still searching for that exact angle to keep the hands fresh for longer. It'll get there.

Aside feeling really good all day another success was my layering for the weather. We started out around 15F and finished in the high 20s. I nailed the layers, only getting a bit chilled mid-ride but didn't stay that way for too long. Of note was the first use of my new boots, Oboz Yellowstone IIs. I'll do a further review later, but these with a wool sock and chemical foot warmers kept my feet comfy for the entire time out. As much as I fight cold feet, I was pleased for this result. I wouldn't want to do the foot warmers all the time but for such a specialized ride I didn't mind it. I chose to not buy the too large size just for sock room b/c with the money I spent, I wanted a full-time boot to use and I think I have one.

Much of the day was ideal. We found sun on the first half of the ride and it perked up the attitudes significantly. It was just beautiful to see the sun coming off the deep, bucolic snow. The first portion of the ride went due north picking our way through farm roads- presumably gravel ones. Our full group rode generally together in this section.

At the northern point of White Sulpher Springs we turned due west and the terrain changed a bit as we approached part of Ferndinand State Forest. I don't know that topography was much different, but instead of fields we tended to be surrounded by more trees (duh!) and the roads felt a little more hemmed in. By this point the SIW boys headed out at their own tempo while Dave and I road ours. Dave struggled all day riding more narrow 700c tires instead of mtbikes like everyone else, so a different tempo was appropriate. The forest was a nice ride, with pine and other trees, sunshine and a generally empty feeling.

into the SF

At a 'T' at CR 650E we decided to roll south- left- while the 50m route went right. By this point Dave had had enough of fighting with his machine and cutting off the northern most loop was a good decision. Soon after our turn we found this interesting bridge and landing over the Patoka River.

"Iron Bridge"

At the top of the hill at the entrance to the SF we had a bit of a hiccup because the road out, CR 650E is shown in google maps as a substantial one, but we found one of the most rustic roads of the day. That was a tough few miles there fighting the deeper snow on a very rolly road.

Firetower in the distance

crappy surface

former strip mine

Once we hit "civilization" at IN64 Dave *really* wanted off the snow and ice, so we took IN64 for a few miles up the road until I convinced him to take the side road 257 south. We would have to go south at some point and as much as he wanted clean road I did *not* want high-speed traffic. We turned south and eventually we find our other group, coming just up behind us at Bethel Rd. I laughed out loud at running into them again. By the time we reached Stendal Dave was cooked, so he chose- not heeding our exhortations to keep moving- to stop and wait for a ride. With that I joined in with the SIW boys. We cleaned our last couple  gravel, snow roads and ended up back in Holland in one piece. After a quick change and chocolate milk purchase, Jim and I went back and picked Dave up, who was "cold". It was an amazing day.


DirtBum said...

Looks like it was a great ride, but wow, 50 miles in that kind of snow is a really tough day.

Love the old bridge and the tree-lined roads. I have a few routes like that here in eastern Kansas, but most of my roads are pretty open country.

Apertome said...

Looks like an amazing, beautiful, stunning, challenging, fun ride. After reading this, I'm even more disappointed that I missed it. You guys are hardcore!`

LvilleTex said...

Apertome, I'm already studying maps for a return Spring ride, something substantial. You'll be invited.

Pondero said...

That looks like quite an adventure. How many hours were you guys out in the weather?

LvilleTex said...

For me a bit more than 4.5 hrs. It couldn't have been done much faster with the conditions. Amazingly, I wasn't cold for the most part. That may be what I was most pleased with.

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