Festivus Ride!

I had floated the idea of a 75-mile ride to the usual suspects, but everybody else had commitments.  I wasn’t going to let that stop me, so I headed out on the rSogn just after 5:00 am this morning.

I hadn’t pitched this ride as a Festivus ride.  I didn’t think of that until already riding.  I was ready for my “Airing of Grievances” pretty early on.

Let me back up to last night’s preparations.  I replaced the broken shifter.  Shifting is good.  I wanted to travel light, so I removed the rear rack and put on a small saddlebag on the saddle, and a tiny “wedge” bag on the front rack.  Any items that wouldn’t fit there would have to be carried in my pockets.

Due to this, and a weather forecast that showed the temperatures starting out just above freezing and heading to 50, I figured I’d underdress a bit and be cold in the beginning.  This way, as it warmed up, I wouldn’t have to figure out where to stash extra clothing items.

Rolling through the urban landscape before the sun comes up on a Sunday morning is quite peaceful.  Traffic was nearly non-existent.  I made my way north and crossed the Second Street Bridge over the Ohio River and into the State of Indiana.

My 5:00 am start time was ideal for traffic, but not ideal for temperature. It was 31, just below freezing in the metro, and a bit cooler as you moved out.  I was a bit chilled at first.  I worked harder to generate heat.

Passing through New Albany Indiana, I stopped at a gas station for Combos and a candy bar.  I ate the candy bar immediately.  The Combos were shoved in a pocket.

West of Louisville is an escarpment, locally known as The Knobs.  This is mostly within Indiana.  My route would take me through one big climb, and later allow me to descend back to the plain.

Timothy had mentioned yesterday that a mountain biking group he rides with was riding to New Albany for The New Albanian Brewing Company, to hang out and drink beer.  They’d be arriving around 1:00pm today.  I wasn’t sure if could make it on the return trip.

Heading out of New Albany I turn on Budd Rd.  It was still quite dark, and there was no traffic.  There was a bit of a climb before it leveled out.  I spotted a new small park, and I stopped for a picture.

Park on Budd Road

I eventually come to Blunk Knob Rd.  This road is often closed in the winter.  There’s a sign at the intersection saying so.  We haven’t had much snow and no ice yet, so the road is open.  I climbed this a couple of years ago with Tim.  I’ve climbed steeper locally, but this is still steep, and goes on for two miles.  The first mile probably averages 8 or 9%.  The second half isn’t so bad.

Sign at Blunk Knob

While stopped for this picture, I managed to drop my spare AAA batteries in the grass.  I used my headlamp (I had that in my pocket) to find them.  I was only able to find five of the six.

My feet were getting quite cold.  There was an angry dog barking at me across the street. It was still quite dark.

I continued on.  During my slow ascent up the first half of Blunk Knob Rd the sky got lighter.  I could see the road without my headlight, though I left it on to be visible to cars.  Once the worst of the climbing was past, I stopped for a picture.

Looking North-ish from Blunk Knob Rd

Once done with the climb, the rest of the terrain is rolling hills.  I expected to feel strong than I did.  Being cold didn’t help.

As the sun rose, I expected it to warm up.  Instead it got windier.  My feet were painfully cold.  I suffered through it and continued on.  I passed through the tiny town of New Middletown where Tim, Patrick, Dominic and I rode through in March 2010.

I started to find familiar roads as I approached Corydon.  I quickly found a little breakfast cafe and went in for coffee and an omelette.

When I was done eating and headed back east, the temperature had risen about 10 degrees.  That was a welcome change.  The cloud cover had begun to dissipate.  The only precipitation on the radar was passing safely to the south.

Clearing skies

I realized the even with my painfully slow riding, I would be able to make the New Albanian meet-up, even going the intended, longer route.

So, instead of continuing on Corydon Ridge Rd, I turned north on Yenowine Ln and wound my way around, skirting the town of Galena.  I eventually turned south-east on Old Vincennes Rd, which was rather busy.  I went by Floyd Central High School and eventually went by my boss’s neighborhood before making my way to Paoli Pike in Floyd’s Knobs.

Ever since I started riding a bike in 2008, I’ve wanted to ride down Paoli Pike.  I did ride it with Tim and Ian some time ago.  It’s a high-traffic road, but interesting in it’s own way.

Riding it today, on the rSogn, without a care in the world was sublime.  I rode to the right, until I gained enough speed to merge with traffic.  Then I rode with the cars, at car speeds.  I gently squeezed the brakes whenever I saw brake lights ahead.

It was over too quickly.  I still had plenty of speed when the road widened to multi-lane and I cruised through a green light and a freeway overpass.  I’m back in New Albany, Indiana, a de-facto suburb of Louisville.

I cruise over to the New Albanian, which is hopping busy.  There are already several dozen bikes parked there, but I don’t see Timothy’s.  After a few minutes, Asher shows up, which was a complete surprise.

After a bit, Timothy does show, we find a table and have beer and food.  I did limit myself to one beer and a glass of water.  I was dehydrated, and would not want to over-do the beer.

Rather than following my planned route back to Louisville, I followed Asher and Timothy.  They had rode over with a mountain bike group (KYMBA).  They had an interesting route, that involved paths through the woods, old railroad grades, and two unused bridges.  It was interesting to ride on the rSogn set up as a brevet bike, but nothing bad came out of it.

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I have some thoughts about it all.

I need bigger luggage for a brevet bike.  I’ve been intending to get some kind of a front bag.  True brevet bags require more hardware to attach, and may have interference issues with my v-brakes.  If I would have had a proper bag, I could have dressed appropriately and not been so uncomfortable.

The rSogn fits.  This is my longest ride on this bike.  It fits well.  The reach is right.  I never felt too crunched up or stretched our, and I have a pretty normal length stem.  My LHT was a great bike, but even with a short stem, it seemed the bars were just a tad too far away.

I’m still going to have stiff neck issues.  I have a physical problem.  It won’t just magically go away.  My neck is stiff from today’s ride, but it’s tolerable.  I’ll be on the ‘bent for what little commuting I need to do in the next week.

I’m still slow.  On flat ground, I was perfectly happy with my speed.  I expect to go slow up 8+% grades.  I did notice I spent a lot of time on 3% grades going 7mph or less when I was tired.  This isn’t acceptable.  I used to push harder.  I had the same issue during Gravel Grovel.  I need to work on that.

The dyno-hub on the rSogn doesn’t put out as much power as a SON28.  On slow climbs (or stop and go traffic) the hub can’t keep the standlight capacitor charged.  This leads to low-speed pulsing.  I’ve been planning to switch the SON on there anyway, once I get a wheel built with it, but this just cemented that decision.

The rSogn carves a great line on a fast descent.  This is still a bit dangerous in the dark, when the road surface isn’t visible due to the curve.  The decreasing radius curves in the dark this morning were great for white-knuckle, think-you’re-gonna-die riding.

Anyway, I suffered a bit.  As usual, once it’s over, I’m glad I did it, and I’ll begin planning the next adventure.

3 thoughts on “Festivus Ride!”

  1. 75 miles, and only one beer? Nice discipline, David! You might have been slower than you’d prefer, but it sounds like you are laying a good foundation to build on.

    We had similar weather on Saturday, and I barely had sufficient carrying capacity for my shed layers. I totally agree with your plan to include luggage for layers…makes a big difference.

  2. Well done, and a nice write-up. It was good to see you at the New Albanian yesterday! And, FWIW, I’m impressed that you rolled out for a 75 on a chilly morning just because you could.

    That descent on Paoli Pike is pretty nice.

  3. Well done! That’s an epic ride as far as I’m concerned!
    You mention cold feet/toes a couple of times, which is my ongoing issue as well. Sometimes the specter of it is enough to make me drive to work – cold feet (really cold feet) is just not comfortable or motivating.
    I looked at some nice footwear options but the clerks at the shop always tell me that I will “boil” in those. I think I’ll take my chances next time I have an extra $150.
    Merry Christmas and have a great NewYear.
    -Wilson

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