Saturday Morning Cyclocross

That’s what I looked like by the time I got home today. My road bike has never been muddier. Even my mountain bike rarely gets so dirty. It’ll probably take me half an hour to clean it this afternoon.

imgp1522Normally my road bike stays fairly clean. It should. Dirt is for mountain bikes. Roadies and road bikes are supposed to be civilized. And, usually, to keep it nice and shiny, I  only have to wipe off my road bike with a dry cloth every few rides. Even after a ride on wet roads last Thursday, my bike looked good. Today, though, was the perfect storm of dirty bike conditions.

To start, the roads were wet. They’ve been wet for the last week. The sun appeared for a bit yesterday and dried the roads, but then it rained last night, and this morning was overcast and humid for the first half of the ride, which meant wet roads. Wet roads do to a bike the same thing they do to a car. All the grime on the road gets picked up by the water and stuck to the bike, meaning at best you’ll have a nice haze over the parts most exposed to the water. Today was not an “at best” day. Like I said, it was a perfect storm.

The second ingredient was mud. Like I said, mud is for the neanderthals mountain bikers, pavement is for latte sipping sissies roadies. When we rode on Thursday night, we stayed in town, where the roads are relatively clean. Hence, little mess afterwards despite the wet pavement. Saturday rides, though, go out into the country. Used to be, those roads were in good shape and free of debris and dirt. That was pre-Hayensville shale. Now large sections of Ellerbe Road, 175, Highway 1 and many others might as well be dirt. Not so much because the pavement has degraded, but because of all the ginormous

imgp1524 trucks dragging mud from the worksites onto  the road. Combine all that dirt with a little rain – like we had last night – and the road surface becomes a muddy mess. Just like anything that rides on it will soon be.

Next, I was with a decent group doing a decent pace. By yourself, all you have to worry about is the muck you spray up from you own bike. Your front tire will throw stuff on the downtube, the rear will get your backside. Other than that, though, you ought to be o.k. With the group, you get all the stuff from your bike and a soaking from everyone else’s overspray. So, not only was my bike a a nice reddish-brown color, but I had mud all over my arms, legs, face, helmet and everything else.

Finally, and similar to the previous factor, only to a much greater degree, those trucks that made the road look like it could host a tractor pull event? Every time one passes you on a day like today, you take a mud shower. You know the driver enjoys it, too. Revenge on all those homo-looking cyclists who hog the road and make his trip 30 seconds longer.

Rain, dirt, other riders, rednecks in dump trucks: they combined to desecrate my usually shiny ride. And me, too. Enough that I had to hose myself off in the yard prior to showering; a pre-shower to prevent drain clogs and the need to clean the tub after showering.

Oh well, it was worth it. The weather was warm. The group was fun. The pace and distance were perfect. And just like washing your car makes it faster 0-60, when I get my bike clean, I’ll be setting the pace on the next group ride.

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