Friday was my first attempt to ride to work from the new place in Chaska. It’s a roughly-25 mile haul, 95% of which is on a rail/trail path that runs all the way to downtown Minneapolis. The first 13 miles or so are crushed limestone, and it’s paved the rest of the way in.
I was smart enough to prep most of my stuff the night before. I decided to avoid the Zipp 404s, for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who is a commuter. I slapped some Conti Gatorskins on the wheelset I built for training purposes (Mavic Open Pros, DT Swiss Champion spokes, Shimano 105 Front Hub, PowerTap Pro+ rear hub), with the idea that it would make the crushed limestone part much more tolerable (no banging carbon rims). I also got almost everything pre-packed or pre-arranged, and got the legs shaved.
The only thing really notable about this was how easy it was — the swapped wheelset worked nicely, the weather was beautiful (a bit chilly at the departure), and the drivers (when I encountered them) were exceedingly polite. I rode under the Twins stadium as the path loops you past downtown with exits onto various streets.
Got to the office around the same time as I normally do — which is before a large majority of my co-workers. I got myself cleaned up in the bathroom — wiped down with a washcloth, dried off, and so on. I smell okay now. So that’s good. My legs were a little tired, but I figured I a good lunch and some snacking would help get my legs ready for the evening ride. (And OMG, I wanted to EAT ALL THE THINGS.)
My legs were pretty tired on the return trip, but I managed to find my groove and get my legs turning at a pretty good clip. By the time I was about five miles in, the legs felt great. I also shaved a small amount of distance off as I had a better idea of what route to take on the strange confluence of trails west of downtown Minneapolis. That was offset by a 1-mile long climb at a 3% grade to finish the commute. I still managed to do everything about 10 minutes faster going home.
The bike held up fine. Scandium and 700x23c tires might not be the best choice for commuting on. It did, however, reinforce my belief/need to build a new steel cyclocross/gravel crusher that I’ll use for commuting, CX racing, and races like the Almanzo. Need: tubeset, carbon fork, and a bottom bracket. Have all the other parts.
Based on just the morning ride, I think I did alright. My iliotibial band in my right knee was a little irritated on Friday night and Saturday morning, but has since settled down. Based on that, I need to make a minor tweak to my right cleat, and then make sure I’m stretching both IT bands before I ride the evening route and afterwards.
I’m definitely going to start riding at least once per week, with the long-term idea of getting up to twice, and maybe even three times per week.