There were no sub-zero temperatures or thousands of dollars on the line when Cheryl, Angela, and I headed out for a gravel road ride this morning, but we did get an unexpected test of our bike handling skills. The weather was actually pretty nice; sunny and lower 30's and rapidly climbing. We went on an abreviated version of my disastrous ride from a few weeks ago, this time armed with moutain bikes and a better sense of direction.
Things went pretty well and we rolled through the ~33 miles much faster than I expected, but it was a little sketchy as the gravel roads weren't getting much sunlight and had a lot of really slick places from the weird winter storm a couple of days ago. I nearly lost my back wheel several times, and although I never actually crashed ON my bike, I managed to fall down twice after dismounting.
The climbing was much easier on the mountain bike and we managed to make it up every hill except the last one, which was a killer. It climbs about 300 ft. in 0.8 miles and has a couple of good twists that let you think you're closer to the top than you really are, only to be disappointed around the bend. I only know of three riders who have climbed this hill the whole way and it wasn't any of us. The ice made it harder because the only place you could get traction was the rough ridge up the middle of the road, which of course was harder than if we'd been able to ride in the smoother car tracks. Oh well, I think everyone rode away with the goal of topping that thing by the start of race season.
Overall, it was a pretty good time and no one got hurt or soaked, although Angela stepped in a puddle. I tend to shy away from group rides since I always end up feeling slow and out of shape, which was the case today, but I guess it's better to find that out if February than in May. At least now I have plenty of time to do something about it.