The thing about referring to events like a rain-soaked nighttime trail half marathon as "gloriously terrible" is that you really can't bail on a run because of bad weather. Granted, I've run in the rain enough to know that it's usually kind of fun, but it seems like I need to keep learning that lesson. I headed west, met up with Mickey, and headed to the park and some of the worst trail conditions I've seen since my first go at Pere Marquette (pretty sure Sunday's Quivering Quads half marathon eclipsed that from everything I've heard).
There were some perks to the sloppy trails and constant rain. First, of course, was that they brought my much faster partner closer to my pace (and then he was nice enough to slow down the rest of the way so I could keep up). It also gave us the opportunity to smooth over horse damage. Best of all, though, was that in many places the going was hilariously bad. All you could do was laugh at how ridiculous it was. The rain I'd been whining about was no problem; the (40ish) temperature was only chilly in open areas and about perfect on the trails. Making way through the mud and some early snowy patches was tough going, though, and it was doing a number on my hip. Instead of the 8-10 miles I had in mind, I begged off at about 6, and when the opportunity arose we took the road back to the parking lot.
Very fun morning and, given the all-day rain predicted for Sunday's bike adventure, a much-needed reminder that wet weather doesn't preclude having fun outside. I needed that encouragement, too, because while I kind of like running in the rain, I've never liked riding in the rain. On my brand new bike, no less.
Any hopes that the forecasters would go 0 - 2 and also be wrong about Sunday's forecast were dashed when the first raindrops hit my windshield as I pulled onto the interstate bright and early that morning. Oh, well. I knew Chuck, Lori, Patrick, Robin, and Russ weren't staying home, so I couldn't either. We took our best guess as to what to wear, took a group picture, and headed down the Hamburg Trail.
|My dislike for pants continues to outweigh my dislike for thorn scratches.|
We started off with bike shoes in our packs since the first few cemeteries were not far down the trail. Riding in the rain, not clipped in, on a new bike made me a little tentative in the beginning, so I was glad we were starting on nice smooth gravel. Despite the steady rain, the temperature (around 50) felt pretty comfortable. We found the first few cemeteries with no problems.
|Most of the cemeteries only had a few stones, many dating back to the 1800's.|
|I don't speak German, but there was another stone that looked the same only read in English, "Until we meet again."|
|In some, only one or two stones were still standing, and many were so worn that they were almost illegible.|
|Cool iron fence|
|No bike thieves out in the rain, thankfully.|
Next we hopped onto a new trail, a skinny stretch of bigger gravel that seemed to go downhill forever (which is a good thing if you like riding downhill. Or fast. Neither of which I do.) punctuated by occasional logs.
|This bike is going to be SO much easier to lift over CX barriers than my mountain bike!|
|It looks pretty happy out in the wild, huh?|
Found a nice spot for a photo op ...
|The rain made everything all pretty and misty.|
|Old well. It's hard to tell in the picture, but it was pretty deep.|
|Looks kind of like the i in the Ironman logo, doesn't it?|
|We were all just as soaked as Lori.|
Back onto the double track...
|Patrick and Chuck|
We set off down what was left of the road in search of one more cemetery, but we did more talking and enjoying the company than paying attention to the map and didn't find it. We'd been out for close to 5 hours in nonstop rain, and we were having fun, but the chill was definitely starting to set in. Chuck suggested going back towards where we started and trying again while paying attention to the terrain. No one disagreed, but the growing amount of quiet led him to suggest maybe we should save this for another time and head back to the cars.
|Taken on the road as we walked back to where we'd left our bikes.|
The uphill out of Lost Valley reminded me that I no longer have a granny gear, so I was walking much earlier than usual. At least this bike is lighter to push than my mountain bike, but one of my goals for this summer is going to be to ride out of Lost Valley on the cross bike.
So far I'm very happy with my new bike. It fits perfectly, got through this crazy day with no mechanical issues of any kind, and handled great. Granted, upshifting with the SRAM shifters is still a work in progress and I'm going to have to get stronger if I want that bigger front cog to regularly be anything more than decorative, but I'm looking forward to the process.
How did all this fit into my Dirty Kanza training plan? Not at all, really. The nature of our quest meant that overall we logged relatively few miles in a longish time. If I was