Boy, do I love the winter thaw!
After my disappointing end to 'cross season and a longer-than-expected recovery period, I had a lot of trouble getting myself back in gear to put in base miles outside. The fact that we'd had plenty of snow and ice (generally things I really enjoy...well, at least the snow...) kept me gun shy about another crash, and the longer I was gone from group rides, the more I knew I'd fall behind frustrated after wasting a bunch of energy trying to keep up at the start.
No more. Today, Kat, Ryan and I opted for a later start time and a goal of 50-60 gravel miles at a pace we could all maintain for the duration. We rolled out a little before 11 and headed into a SW wind, Cortland in mind for a first stop.
We found gravel roads in beautiful condition, with options for packed smooth middles, a little pea gravel in between tracks, or churningly difficult wet shoulders. Kat needed that slowing power later in the ride when her front brake cable snapped, leaving her relegated to stopping with a pretty worn out back brake. Scary!
Ryan, riding singlespeed, kept a nice crisp pace for us whenever we started slacking. After worrying his gearing would be too low, he ended the ride thinking this will be his Gravel Worlds gear for this year. (Sorry nerds, I don't know the gear ratio and he's not here right now.)
With temperatures fluctuating from the low 40s to the mid 50s, plus a wind cold enough to make wind chill a factor, clothing decisions were a little challenging. I stayed pretty comfy with a silkweight capilene baselayer, wool jersey, wind vest (detachable sleeves came off pretty fast), neck gaiter, wool cap, glove liners and shell gloves, and cozy Craft running tights over my bibs. Wool socks in my winter shoes were toasty!
After exploring uncharted (to us) gravel east of Cortland en route to Hickman, we ended up back at home with 59.59 miles. Nice way to kick off the outdoor training year, and it felt great to do something more on roads where you didn't have to worry about just staying upright on 1-3 inches of pure ice. Bring on the Spring!
In other news, I was able to make this likeness of Hunter S. Thompson during a work professional development activity in which a team of us were given 16 items of which we could choose 6 to keep after surviving a plane crash in the Australian desert. We chose none of these, though we spent a good deal of time considering the Jameson. With 6 of us, though, it wouldn't have gone very far.