It would be a grievous understatement to say that Dirt Bag IV didn’t live up to it’s name. As stated in a previous post, my ride in Dirt Bag III was somewhat cold, turning into a filtered sun day. Last year I logged about 105 miles on the Pugsley. This year I logged about 45 miles on the Salsa Fargo.
As the 88 riders (100 had signed up) gathered at Sportman’s Ballpark in Clearwater, MN for the 9am start conditions were excellent, all things considered. It had rained off and on during the overnight hours. However, there was no precipitation falling from the grey clouds as we began to roll out. The temperature was somewhere in the low 40s and there was just a slight wind. I met a couple of friends from previous rides and we set off on a paved county road to get out of town.
The pace was brisk, but it felt good. We moved onto the gravel roads. That was equally good. Most of the moisture had either run off or been absorbed. There were smooth tracks through the gravel no matter which direction we turned as we serpentined through the beauty of Wright County. One of the more interesting sights for me, besides the yard full of figurines and gas pumps and the pasture of horses of various sizes and colors, was a pheasant farm. Not only did this allow for a nice picture, but gave me opportunity to ingest more calories and drink deeply from my bottle of G2. Other than spotty drizzle the conditions of the ride were excellent. I was feeling good physically and mentally. I had dressed well in that I was comfortable with the elements.
The only checkpoint and offering of food and beverage came at about mile 32. I had been on the move for about 135 minutes. Not a bad pace for me. I stopped to enjoy conversation, coffee, and homemade monster cookies. Noting that I still felt good, I topped off a bike bottle of electrolyte drink with some extra water and headed back onto the road.
As I made a zig-zag on a paved county road from one gravel road to another, I continued into an increasing wind. In the distance I could see the white-grey color that indicates precipitation. It was only a matter of minutes before we met face-to-face. At first it was a steady rain. As the pelting into my face became more stinging I realized that it was now sleeting. I tucked my head down and told myself that this would soon be over. As I looked at the gravel roads with an occasional glance forward to see what was ahead, I noticed that the consistency of the road was changing. What was once smooth, but firm was becoming a film-like, sloppy, puddle pocketed mess. It wasn’t only visable, but I could hear the grit on the chain, chain rings, and shifting mechanisms. I continued to tell myself as I glanced into the skies that this would soon pass. Upon reaching a paved intersection where I had a stop sign, I watched cars speeding in front of me. Each one left a floating plume of water in their wake. In checking the skies I saw more grey-white indicators of the wintery mix. I crossed the highway and proceeded across a double set of railroad tracks. As I went down a slight incline my tires entered a wet, sandy, slimy mess. As I climbed out of that dip onto the top of a hill it was time to assess my situation. The skies were not changing color. The wind had increased noticeably and my chain and rings were dripping sand-filled, tan drops of goo.
As I thought, read a few text messages, drank some fluids, and looked at my cue sheets I realized that my continuation would take me further from the start. As a self-supported event, I was on my own. My body was beginning to tell me that the precipitation had soaked through some of my clothing. Between my perspiration, the external moisture, and the increasing winds I would have to work hard to remain comfortably warm.
The decision making process continued. I had spent the previous night with some friends near Clearwater. From where I was located I believed that I could reach their home in 8-10 miles. A phone call sealed the decision. Jon confirmed my directions and I headed to their home. I had traveled about 39 miles on the designated route. Now it was time to call it a day.
As I headed to Jon’s house I had the comfort of riding on pavement. About half way to his house I noticed a truck coming toward me that looked familiar. Jon had decided to come my way and ask if I wanted a ride. I gladly accepted his offer. My totaly mileage was about 44. It wasn’t what I had planned when I began, but in every event I have learned to keep options open. I would rather minimize any damage or harm in order to ride another day.
My friend, Jon runs his own catering and rib business based outside of Clearwater, MN. Just North of Memphis is the name of his company. He travels to numerous rib competitions and festivals during the year. He has opened his food trailer just off I-94 at the Clearwater exit. It is closed for 2013. However, he will reopen in April 2014. If you have a liking for Memphis style ribs, pulled pork or beef brisket, give Jon a try. Tell him that you read it on my blog!