Yup, that was this morning's ride. I missed out on last week's off road death march due to my own inability to find the ride start on time. So this morning I was right on time for the start of this certain-to-be disaster.
I left the house at 8 am after debating if I should ride to the start or drive. I decided to ride and get in the extra miles, besides it was dry out and the forecast was for rain so I figured it would be more time of dry riding. So I rolled over across the river to Minneapolis on my fixie and met the others about 9 am.
Four of us rolled out about 9:15 and headed east. There was a strong wind out of the east so we figured we'd rather have the headwind at the start and tailwind coming back home. I navigated a route across St. Paul and onto the gateway trail. I thought we could take that out to Stillwater and avoid some cars. Wrong. It was fine until we crossed 36, then the trail was still all packed ice. Not great riding, so we ducted off into the local neighborhood and found our way back towards Stillwater. Stone was complaining about something not feeling right on his bike as we pulled off the trail so we stopped to check it out. Turned out his drive side crank arm was loose, so we tightened it up and headed east.
We rolled into Stillwater and Stone's crank was acting up again and he was pretty sure it would keep it up the whole ride. So we stopped at a coffee shop for a quick bite and to analyse the crank situation. Unfortanately the crank was aUltegra splined model, so once it's loose the splines quickly go to hell. Since there was no bike shop nearby, the best option was to shim it. So after eating an egg salad sandwhich and cup of potato soup ( I don't usually like soup, but it really hit the shop) we started crank surgury. Otree spend some time making shims from his Coke can, and we managed to get about 6 thin strips of metal in there and crank'd 'er down good. Seemed to hold, so we rolled on.
We decided to head south towards Hudson, incase the crank fix didn't work we could stop by Art Doyle's there and see if he had another crank arm. Unfortunately if you want to cross to the wisconsin side of the river in Stillwater, you have one heck of a hill to get up. County road E in Wisco is steep, I mean really steep. We were all riding fixed gear bikes and had about 35 miles in already. Otree was the smartest one, he walked the steep part. I pulled it off with my 46-17 gear but it took a few minutes before I could actually breath at the top. I thought my legs were literally going to fall off, I was in no shape to be trying this crap.
Anyway, we all made it up and pressed south to Hudson. The wind was good enough to switch direction, so we still had a head/cross wind, so we did a little pacelining to make things easier. Rolled through Hudson, crossed back over into MN and headed south towards Afton. We made the call to skip the really big hills in Afton since we had a long ways to get back and I think everyone was feeling it. We took Indian Trail back up towards Woodbury and suffered a bit on the rolling hills there. The wind had completely shifted to coming out of the west now and it was only getting stronger, so we got the bonus of a headwind all the way home too. Finally crossed 94 again and rolled into Lake Elmo. Once we got over the last big climb in Lake Elmo, the ride got really quiet. All of us were quickly fading and running on autopilot. The legs keep turning, but the brain is shutting down. I thought I would ride back to Minneapolis and then home, but I was quickly fading. My legs were on the verge of cramping and I knew pressing further was a bad idea. I was about 5 miles from home, so I decided to pull off and head home. I had put in an extra 12 miles getting to the start, so I didn't feel too bad about ditching out.
Rolled in about 3 pm. I felt remarkable good for having just spent more time in the saddle in one day than I have this whole year. I think we had about 5.5-6 hours of ride time, and I suspect we were averaging about 16mph with all the in-town riding, faster out in the country. So if we didn't make a century, we must have gotten damn close. None of us have computers on our fixies, so we'll never know. My legs think so though...
Not a bad day. Never did rain on us.