Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Coats are Yesterday's Burden

Katherine and I were in Denver for a four day weekend to relax and spend time with family. We were also hopeful for some sunshine and milder temperatures since Denver boasts 300 days of sun each year.

It was cloudy and snowed three of four days.

We're used to this in Omaha. We can go for weeks at a time without the sun. But Denver? It's rare when there are two days of clouds. So by day three, the locals were in full panic mode from the snow and cooler temperatures. The weatherman said to bundle up and wear hats and gloves because it was a 'chilly' 29 degrees outside.

That's balmy for Omaha.

We couldn't help but think that the snow followed us to Denver. Our egos were checked when I read that Omaha had some snow this past weekend as well.

So I've been doing some thinking about this dreary winter and it comes to this: I'm moving on. I'm through wishing for Spring's return and am now acting upon it. My first order to moving on is to dress accordingly. From hence forth, I will not wear a coat outside.

Go ahead, winter, take your best shot. From here out, my wholesome steel-cut mind will be focused on green grass, blooming tulips and a gentle southern breeze.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mod's Wild Ride

Seven of us peeled off from downtown Omaha for one of Mark Savery's (Mod) twisty road rides through Council Bluffs and Crescent Iowa's hill country.

Mapped as 37 miles, the ride wasn't long on distance. But it felt long because of all the climbing: 14%, 15%, even 16%! gradients. If you want a good hill workout around Omaha, get in touch with Mod. He's got western Iowa covered.

This type of hill workout nearly justifies a granny-gear. However, most of us flat landers have traditional double chain rings. Only lately have compacts become more common among roadies. The gear ratios compacts offer would be more suitable on this ride than a double ring. But a triple chain ring with a granny gear for really steep climbs? Perhaps a few hills around here could use a third ring.

My good buddy Shim has a triple on his Rocky Mountain cross bike. His bike also sports a clip on rear-fender. Midway through last weekend's ride, the fender fell off. He rode the rest of the way with it in his back jersey pocket. Since it's common knowledge that clip on fenders are practically worthless, it should come as no surprise that the fender performed only slightly worse in his back pocket than when it was physically mounted to his bike. Anyway, the fender was back today. The contrasting blue duct tape used to secure it to his red bicycle was a nice touch.

While Shim's fender'd bike has a granny gear, Rafal was pushing a 42x18 single speed up those hills. Holy exploding knee caps, that dude can mash. Did it bother him? Rafal said he would have preferred a bigger gear for the flat sections.

For the most part, Kevin was riding conservatively today. There was one major throw down, however. Not far beyond the legendary prime rib served at Crescent's Pink Poodle restaurant, there's an absurd climb on Badger Ave. At a 15% gradient, it wasn't the steepest hill of the route. But at well over a quarter mile with very little run-up, it was the ride's longest section of sharp climbing.

Knowing how difficult the climb was, I planned to launch a surprise attack on Kevin, who had previously never ridden it. Seeing me attack, Kevin would then counter, charge up the hill and then totally blow up. It was text book. Taking that hill from Kevin would then be like taking candy from a baby.

So when it came time, I stood up and charged. After 30 seconds, I eased up a bit to allow Kevin to blast by. But for some inexplicable reason, Kevin didn't attack. Instead, I looked back and found him glued to me. A total wheel sucker! My great plan had backfired. Instead of hunting him down, I had become the prey. Well, I wasn't going to have that, so I sat up. It was at that moment that Kevin finally launched the counter attack and left us all behind.

Now here's a familiar sight:

Behind are Mod, Shim and I.

A short while later, the pack reformed

Ryan and Roxy were also with the group. Riding alongside a married couple was a first for me. I also now know why Ryan is as fast as he is: Roxie is one tough chic. Thanks for coming out, Roxy. You not only held your own, but kept most of us civil.

I did say most.