First of all, I'd like to appologize to those of you that were looking for an audio-blog here. I just didn't have time to put one up due to the fact that if we weren't riding, we were eating, and that's all we left time for.
Now on to the report: GTDRI started off in the pre-dawn haze of Saturday morning with the riders getting organized in the parking lot of Pfieffer Park in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Attending were the following riders: David and Mark Pals, Jeremy Bidwell, Cory Heintz, Matt Wills, and myself. We had an escort of four other cyclists for the ride out of town that included Jeff Kerkove, John Adamson, Chris Congdon, and Rob ( sorry, his last name slips me right now!)
After Cory made it into the parking lot and got ready, we were off at about 6:20am. The pace was a bit quick on the bike paths out of town and on the initial portions of gravel, but after our escorts peeled off, we settled down to a nice pace. GTDRI isn't a race, so we all stuck together for the most part through the early sections of the course. It was very hazy/ foggy in the early hours, giving a ghostly quality to the ride. There was absolutely no wind.
To Traer: The ride was mostly rollers and a few small hills coming into Tama County. I made a slight navigational error, ( I ended up being the navigator on the ride) which didn't affect the mileage or get us lost. Too busy yakking! After about two and a half hours, we were in Traer. This was much faster than I had anticipated, as I though that if we got there by ten o'clock, that we would have "been on schedule".
On To Gladbrook: The riders quickly fueled and watered at the convenience store in Traer and we were off again. We were pretty excited that we were ahead of schedule. Leaving Traer going south, we encountered our first "B" level road. After three days of rain, I didn't know if we were going to be in trouble or not. As it turned out, it was rideable, but the mud would build up on the tires and fling off in large chunks making the sky around us look like it was filled with flak. It wasn't long after this that we started to fracture into pairs. The Pals brothers, Matt and myself, and Cory and Jeremy, who were constantly off the front. We would regroup from time to time, but inevitably we would end up in these pairings for the rest of the ride.
By the way, I should mention that we were all on singlespeeds with the exception of Jeremy who was riding a sweet old Killer V hardtail. The weather was overcast, and by the time we reached a northward section of the course, we were getting a stiff headwind. I also missed a turn that cut three miles off of the course, but went across a much hillier section, so really, it was no advantage. We finally rolled into Gladbrook about 12:20 or so, and were met by David and Marks father who was there to check us out. We chowed and drank and bugged out after about a half an hour or so. The course continued northwards and the wind made things pretty tough.
On to Steamboat Rock: We encountered our next "B" road section, and much like the first, the soil balled up on our tires and flung up into the air around us. A little more north and then we had a brief respite from the wind with a westward section. We noticed that David and Mark were way off the pace. David had mentioned that he had a cold and was having trouble pushing very hard. When he and his brother reached us, David said to not wait up for them anymore, because he didn't want them to be slowing us down like that. That was the last we saw of them. Later, David e-mailed me to say that they continued on to the next "B" road section and bailed off course to a nearby town and had their Dad pick them up. They made it halfway. Good riding fellows! Hopefully you get to feeling better soon, David!
The next "B" road section was more like a farmers access road to his fields. It was basically a cutting through two corn fields. "B" roads never cease to amaze me. Anyway, we had a long slog through a westward portion of the course. We were entertained breifly by a crop duster. We were south of the feilds he was spraying and we got into an overspray in the wind which was noted by a weird chemical smell in the air. Nice! I'm sure it didn't help any!
We had about eight miles north to go to get into Steamboat Rock. I was getting pretty tired by this time. I'd been up for twelve hours and was actually having a hard time keeping my eyes open. Matt and I weren't having much conversation at all by this point. I suspect he was a bit tired too. He left Lincoln at 12 midnight, drove straight through to Cedar Falls and got right on his bike!
Onwards to the finish: We got into Steamboat Rock a bit after 4pm., which I knew would put us into night riding eventually. We stopped to eat and drink, with Matt and I sharing a 40 ouncer of Budweiser. (Why not? It's carbs, right?) Matt noticed that my rear tire was pretty soft, so we changed out my tube and then we got back to riding a little before 5pm. But not until we feilded a few questions from the locals which included the inevitable, "Do you guys ride on RAGBRAI?". Bah!
Well, with Jeremy and Cory pointed in the right direction, they took off at their own high pace to the east. Matt and I were left to ourselves after the crossing of the Iowa river just west of Steamboat Rock. I thought I was not going to make it, I was so sleepy! But I had bought two cans of Monster energy drink at the last convenience store, ( No Red Bull! Grrr!) and I slammed one of them along with an anti-fatigue pill. I got my eyes opened up and felt much better. In fact I felt alot better. The ride back across Grundy and Black Hawk county was really fun, and Matt and I enjoted great conversation along the way. We finally got back to Pfieffer Park after riding about 45 minutes in the dark at about 9:05 pm. Cory and Jeremy were there, and they had arrived at about 8:20pm. We enjoyed some post ride brews, and then took our leave of each other, satisfied in the fact that we had all ridden over 150 miles in one shot.
I want to thank everyone involved in GTDRI for making it a success. We had fun and we suffered, but it was all worth it. It's always great to get together with like minded folks and enjoy a long bike ride together. Cheers!
GTDRI pics can be accessed from here for now, more to come!