It's barely 30 degrees outside, the trails are covered in slick ice and the amount of time to put on cold weather clothes almost outweighs the time spent on the bike. However, there's something that draws me to the gravel roads of Warren and Madison county.
Gravel has a way of hardening a rider, whether it's the bone- rattling road, the consistent rolling hills, or the fact that the wind ALWAYS seems to be in your face. It's for these reasons that I love riding gravel. Some days it's great to get out there and ride 4 hours solo; just you and your thoughts, moments of self- reflection. The absence of other people and the abondoned barns makes you feel desolate. Or if you can convince a couple of poor souls to join you, you get to enjoy the collective suffering of the group. During one of my last rides, the three of us picked up a fourth companion. This guy was friendly and wanted to come along for the ride. He followed us for a few miles before we decided that it was probably best that he turn back. However, he just wanted to to keep going! It took a full- on sprint to finally drop him. An experience that could only be enjoyed out in the middle of nowhere.
Why, you ask, do I do this? The way I see it, is if I can persevere through dodgy conditions, hills and the rough roads, I'll have no problem getting on the road bike in the coming months. The weather will be more tolerable, the hills shorter and paved roads that smooth tires will just glide across.
Sometimes you have to embrace the elements and become tougher because of them. The alternative, another 4 hour ride on something that resembles a hampster wheel while watching Paris- Roubaix for a sixth time.