Posts tagged ‘indiana’

Sweet Home Alabama

Slushy road and huge snow drifts - can you tell which way the wind is blowing from?

It was an awesome trip to the midwest to visit Kristine’s family and enjoy a brief winter vacation, but now it’s back home to sweet home Alabama. Our long road back home started with a 9 hour drive from Shell Lake, WI to La Porte, IN. We went right by Madison, WI where cyclocross nationals is currently being held. It felt weird to be simply driving by such a major cycling event without stopping, but we had to get the kids back for school. There was no snow at all in Madison or anywhere in southern Wisconsin even though we had just left an 8 inch snowstorm in northern Wisconsin. There was also no snow in Illinois, but shortly after crossing the border into Indiana we ran into a pretty big lake effect snowstorm.

We finished the drive pretty slowly on snow covered roads, but made it safely to Kristine’s grandmother’s house in La Porte. It was 11PM and the kids had been sleeping for a while so Kristine went in with Analise first while I took a few pictures of the snow with Josiah still asleep in the car. It was very cold so I only took pictures for a minute and by then Josiah had woken up. So I helped him get his coat and boots on and told him to run to the front door while I got the suitcase we needed. A few seconds later I entered the house and Kristine asked where Josiah was? I thought she was joking at first and then thought he must have gone straight into the bedroom or bathroom. We looked briefly in the house and after not finding him ran back outside calling out for him. I ended up following his footprints in the snow to find him standing in front of the door of the house two doors down from Grandma Vivian’s. It gave us all a big scare for a minute because it was really cold and the wind was blowing 20+mph steady with higher gusts. I guess Josiah was still half asleep!

The next morning we had a 12 hour drive in front of us. I started about 2 hours early on my bike heading south hoping to make it 60 or 70 miles with a nice tailwind, but during the night the wind had changed direction so that is was a nasty side/headwind. I averaged 15mph on very flat roads to give you an idea of the nastiness of the wind. When I left La Porte, I had to negotiate about 1/2 mile of unplowed roads before making it to the state highway which was still slushy and wet, but at least had two clear tracks between the snow. I knew that this wouldn’t last long so I rode my road bike fishtailing through the snow for that first half-mile. Then it was just really wet with an air temp of 15 degF and a constant 15+mph sidewind. This was by far the coldest ride I did during our trip. Also, because of the slow speed I was traveling I didn’t get a chance to make it through the flatlands to the nice hills around the Wabash river basin. Instead, I took Kristine on a drive through those same roads that I would have been riding. There was some really fun hills and drop-offs in the car. The kids loved it!

Here are a couple Garmin screenshots that illustrate how flat the ride was that I did.

Side by side comparison of a flat ride through the farmlands south of La Porte and a small portion of my commute into work yesterday back here in Birmingham. Note the 15.5 degF temp on the left, 7.85 miles into the ride with only 81' of climbing. On the right, I already had 699' of climbing only 3.9 miles into the ride, which was almost the total amount of climbing in my 43 mile ride in Indiana (710').

January 5, 2012 at 10:28 am Leave a comment

Three icy rides

We just wrapped up our annual Christmas trip to the upper midwest, and I finished it up with the three icy rides below:

Shell Lake Lake Ride
Air temp: -10F (10 below zero)
Distance: 7.8 miles (it was cold!!!)
This was my last ride in northwestern wisconsin, and it was also my last chance to really explore the frozen lake. It was plenty cold (-10F) cold enough to freeze your breath almost instantly. But unfortunately warmer temps and even light rain on Christmas left about an inch of water melted underneath a thin layer of top ice. I kept crashing through into the puddled water. No danger of crashing through into the lake b/c there was another layer of thick ice below that, but problematic enough with the temp -10F to shorten my ride. Still, for this Alabama boy – the novelty of riding a bike on a frozen lake never gets old!

Northwest Green Bay ride
Air temp: 15F(and very windy)
Distance: 61.4 miles (very flat)
This was my first ride in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area. I thoroughly enjoyed it although most of the ride was table-top flat. I could tell that if I had gone northwest away from the lake instead of towards the lake, it would have been a much hillier ride. But I really wanted to see Green Bay and see the ice flows and icebergs on the lake. I wasn’t disappointed – although my camera batteries were dead after only one picture. We drove out later to get a few pictures that I posted below.
La Porte, IN to New Buffalo, MI
Air temp: 10F (10 above zero)
Distance: 36.9 miles (it was cold!!!)
We spent New Year’s Eve with Kristine’s grandma in La Porte, IN which is just south of the Michigan border and southeast of Lake Michigan. I had a great mountain bike ride in the middle of a minor lake effect snowstorm. It was quite an experience and perfectly safe as the roads were snowy and not icy. Actually makes for pretty good traction on a mountain bike as long as you keep the tire pressure low.

And here are all the photos from the three rides…

Ride #1 – Shell Lake, WI – 12/29/09







Ride #2 – Northwestern Green Bay Area – 12/30/09



Ride #3 – La Porte, IN to New Buffalo, MI – 1/1/10





January 3, 2010 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment


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Got to drive by Talladega for the last few laps of the big NASCAR race. Awesome coffee shop... land of 1000 hills... love it! New 20 minute power record on the burnt mountain climb.

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