Today was one of those rides where nothing seemed to go right, but in the end it turned out to be a great ride. I had a course all planned out in my head and it ended up changing twice during the ride due to unforeseen obstacles. My initial plan was to ride southwest towards Holland and then north up to Grand Haven where I would meet my wife at the end of the day.
So, I started off on the Kent Trail bike path hoping to take that as far as Jenison. This would keep me off some of the busier sections of Chicago Dr. Didn’t quite go as planned though. As soon as I got south of Wilson, I hit mud. You have to realize that #1 the bike bath runs along the Grand River and #2 October set a record for rainfall in month. Yeah, not good. After the first patch of mud, I thought I would be OK. But it kept getting worse. And worse. And worse. I ended up having to turn around before I ended up under water. Once I got back to dry land, I inspected my bike. I wish I would have taken a picture then, but I was so covered in mud, I didn’t want to take my phone out of my pocket. My tires were so caked with mud, they were as wide as mountain bike tires. I had gobs of leaves stuck in my brake calipers. And did I mention the mud?
I had brought a 3rd water bottle with me on this ride rather than just 2 because I knew it would be a longer ride (the 4th water bottle on the seat post rack has my tools, spare tire, and ID in it). I decided that I would have to use that water bottle to clean out the calipers as best I could because there was so much mud between the pivots, I was worried it would affect my braking ability. The water bottle didn’t get me very far though. I still had lots of mud. Thankfully (I guess), I was close enough to the boat launch that I could refill the bottle in the river and continue to clean out the brakes. That water bottle is now going through the dish washer at least twice to clean off whatever filth I managed to pick up in the Grand River.
Finally, I was back on my way. I had to back track about a mile to pick up Chicago Dr – the road I was trying to avoid in the first place. It ended up not being too bad. There was one hairy spot where two lanes of traffic were exiting the highway at the same time causing me to essentially end up in the middle of the road. I managed to pull off on a side street and weave around there before popping out on a street called Cottonwood; one I had never been on. I pulled out my phone at this point to see where I was. I wasn’t as far south as I had wanted to be, but I knew this would get me where I wanted to be. And beings as I had already lost some time messing with my bike, I knew I was going to have to cut the route a bit short.
So, on I went. Headed west finally. Now, I knew going into this ride that there was going to be a wind from the WNW. What I didn’t know was how strong it was going to be. It was a steady 15mph or so wind the entire time. And this is a horrible course for a WNW wind because you head about 22 miles WEST and then about 6 miles NORTH. So, wind in your face the whole damn way. I put this ride in the mental win category. There were so many times I wanted to say screw it and turn around so that the wind would be at my back, but I knew that mentally I had to push forward. Despite being a very flat road, the wind made it feel like an uphill battle the entire way.
After much effort, cursing, and worrying that I would run out of water with only two bottles left, I finally made it to the end point. I ended up getting there a bit earlier than I had to and thought about tacking on a few more miles, but at that point, I was absolutely beat.
With the bike loaded and Jennie out of work, we headed home. I was starving at this point, so we stopped by McDonalds. Normally, I avoid fast food like the plague, but I have been craving one of the 1/3 pound angus burgers ever since I had one on the way home from a ND game a month ago. I gave into my craving and got one along with biggest Coke they had and some fries for Jennie. It was sooooooo good.
In the end it was a 40.63 mile ride (I was hoping for closer to 50, but sometimes that odds are just stacked against you) in 2:31:29 for a 16.1mph pace. I wish I would have had a power meter for this ride because it felt a LOT harder than some of my rides where I am pushing 20mph.
After I got home, I did my best to clean my bike. Thanks to the time change last week, it now gets dark here at about 2:00 in the afternoon. Ok, I exaggerate a bit, but suffice to say, it was dark by the time we got home. I got out a bucket, turned on the flood lights, pulled out my trouble light and got to work. Under the little bit of light I had, it looked clean, but I’ll have to check it out in the daylight tomorrow.