Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wind and Doing Our Part for Trail Maintenance

Okay, maybe not trail "maintenance", but definitely trail clean-up. I'll get to that in a moment.

Today's weather forecast? 80% chance of rain, 48 degrees. A pretty good chance of getting wet, but not necessarily cold (if properly dressed). As I left my house to meet up with Debbie at Twisties (her and her husband own the frozen yogurt shop--pretty tasty stuff), it was indeed raining. Got to the shop just before 9:30. As Debbie pulled up, the rain was tapering off. The wind, however, was a bit on the gusty side.

We headed out Yelm Hwy toward Yelm. Oh yeah, the wind was definitely blowing; side gusts mostly. Once we got onto Hwy 510, I expected to get a tailwind. Well, no such luck. It was still with the side gusts and occasionally a blast head-on. But, it was no longer raining (had stopped not long after we started). We stopped at one point so I could remove my rain jacket (love that jacket, but I do get quite warm--could have something to do with all the layers I have on underneath--long sleeve lightweight wool shirt, short sleeve team jersey, AND Endura jersey/jacket--but, hey, it is December!). The temp was actually between 52 and 57 degrees throughout the ride. Due to the wind, it didn't seem quite that warm.

Once we were on Bald Hills Rd the wind really became a factor. There are not that many trees out on the prairie to block the wind. There were places where Debbie and I thought we were going to get blown sideways off the road. Fortunately, if that would have happened we would have just landed in soft, squishy, wet grass. We managed to stay upright.

Once again, I thought when we made the turn onto Lawrence Lk Rd the wind would be pushing us along. True, there were microscopically brief moments when that did happen, but, overall, still not in our favor. After doing the section of 153rd that took us to Vail Rd, we made a stop at the Minimart so I could refill my water bottle. I don't usually go through that much water (I know I should drink more, I just don't...usually), but the wind seemed to suck the moisture out of me.

After the stop, we continued onto Vail Rd., completely changing direction. Still no tailwind...aaarrrrgggg! Vail became Vail Cut-Off which we rode to Hwy 507. Finally, on 507 we would have a tailwind! But...that would involve backtracking into Rainier to pick up the trail which we would then just head...straight back into the wind! Instead, we sacrificed the tailwind in favor of pushing the bikes up the rocky trail across 507 to the paved Yelm/Tenino Trail.

From there it was the trail back to Lacey. Now for the trail clean-up part. As we came up to the train tracks next to Waldrick, we noticed a bunch of big rocks covering the trail (looks like a car had not quite made the turn near the tracks). First we rode through, but then we went back because this is the usual route the night ride takes. Headed south, the riders would not see the rocks until they were right on top of them. Some of these rocks were big enough to cause a cyclist to crash (God knows we don't need that happening!). We cleared as much of the rocks as we could. What was left would require a broom (and, therefore, not as dangerous).

It started raining just as we got back to Yelm Hwy. Once we returned to Twisties and Debbie's car, we decided we deserved some frozen yogurt...and hot chocolate! Even though our average speed was just 15mph, it felt like most of the 52 miles we rode was uphill (it's not really), thanks to the wind. But, we managed to do the majority with no rain. That's something anyway!

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