Even though winter doesn't officially start until mid-December, it's defintely testing the proverbial waters around here. After a week of near-record temps, the bottom kinda dropped out Sunday afternoon, with REALLY weird Kansas fall weather in the form of a late season tornado outbreak and severe thunderstorm event, complete with hail and high-winds. Crazy for November! I think I got the last official semi-warm ride in Sunday morning, before the major stuff blew thru. Not feeling much like riding, or waking up early, I just mounted up the fixxer and rode to nearby Spring Hill and back, but reprised a small section of the Hillsdale Gravel Road Ride, making this glorified coffee-run a near-70% gravel event! Even though the speeds are a little lower, and the going a little tougher, I REALLY enjoy this new-found off-season activity. I'm seeing scenery that I've never seen before, simply because in the past I was riding on tires that wouldn't have done too well on gravel and silt. 191st and Renner got added to the list of "never been here before", as well as a few more of Spring Hill's back-streets that wind through the old "down-town" area. Really cool. I was having so much fun, the constant drizzle/mist and 20+MPH headwinds didn't really bother me that much. Also checked off the list was the fact that the fixxer does really well on sketchy pavement and gravel -- making me almost regret having not taken it on the Hillsdale ride a few weeks back -- but there will be other times. After a bit, I stopped off at the Casey's on Webster Rd., had a coffee and a couple fig newtons, and was back on the bike - now with a wicked tailwind! Still taking my time, but the return trip did go faster, and I checked a few new sections of gravel off the "to-do" list in the process. Very cool, and with the dark skies, the drizzle, the 32c tires and the Carradice bag all in attendance, it seemed very comfortable and appropriate - as opposed to "weird" and "different", which is how I viewed the gravel-road riding thing a month ago. Granted, I'm not going to spend ALL my time on gravel now, but it's certainly not off-limits anymore -- and it may well solve finding that elusive back-route to the Cidermill for next weekend.
Assuming winter lets me get it in: more, heavier snow scheduled for arrival next Sunday... the big shift is coming. Ride while you still can!!!