Monday, July 16, 2012

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational 2012: Report Part I

Getting It Started: The GTDRI is a ride that means a lot to me. I do the ride to test myself, see some cool countryside, and to invite anyone that desires to ride, to come along for the adventure. There isn't anything more to it than that, but the people that do come always blow me away with their friendship, spirit, and efforts.

Home base for the ride.
This year I decided to move the ride to Grinnell. I like the terrain around Grinnell, and I wanted to share bits of former Trans Iowa courses, (not to mention experience them first hand from the saddle of a bicycle), with others. The route I wanted to take was easy to figure out, and I even went through some different areas I had not been through just for fun.

The move to Grinnell meant that I wouldn't be "roughing it" by camping. I figured with the heat we've seen this year, I needed a cool, restful night of sleep to tackle what would become the second longest ride I've ever done. Me and heat don't mix too well, so this seemed to be a good idea.  I barely got a room though, since Grinnell is so close to Iowa Speedway, and a trucks race meant most rooms were spoken for.

I arrived in Grinnell around 7:30pm, and I met up with Courtney who was in town for the ride. He decided to camp out, so we rendezvoused downtown at Lonski's in Grinnell for some grub and New Belgiums.

Matt Wills arrived from Lincoln, NE for the ride.
 Courtney and I had some great conversation and I tried not to indulge in too many Fat Tire Ales! We said our good nights, and I departed for my motel room to get some shut eye.

The night went by and I awoke at 4:30am to start getting set up to ride. I knew from the previous day that Matt would be driving in, (he started at 1am!), from Lincoln, Nebraska and was to meet me outside the motel. I wanted to be ready by about 5:20am to make sure Matt didn't have to wait too long for me. I made pretty good time getting ready though, and it was a good thing I was ahead of schedule!

Matt texted me at 5:07am saying he was there, so I did a few last second things and met him outside. I was super humbled that he made the effort to come, since he left at 1am to drive up, then do the ride with no sleep. Matt seemed just stoked to be there and to be spending an entire day on his bike, which was his beautiful Soulcraft "Fat Road" 1X8 rig.

With a few minutes more for Matt to get kitted up, we were off to ride the three miles from the motel to Bikes To You where I had told everyone to meet at 6:00am.

David- turn it around!
I didn't know how many folks would actually show up. I knew from previous day's e-mails, Facebook posts, and texts that Courtney, Matt, Dennis, Jeremy, and John and his son would be making it up for the ride. Friday evening I saw Mike's rig there in the parking lot of the motel I was staying in, so I figured he'd be in for the ride.

So when Matt and I rounded the corner to Bikes To you, I was only surprised that Craig was also in on the ride. Everyone else I figured on was there, except Jeremy, who was going to start late and catch us. Well, that would eventually make for 9 riders total. That's an excellent turn out for this ride, so I was really floored. Dennis, who was from Grinnell, was only planning on doing the first 65 miles which brought the route back to Grinnell, but everyone else was thinking of chewing off the whole bite.

Pictures were taken and last second preparations were made. We finally hit the route at about a quarter after 6.

Beautiful country

Our route was the beginning of Trans Iowa V8 for the first 30 miles. That meant that the group headed north up to just about the Powesheik County border before turning East. The weather was cool, humid, but there was no wind, and everything was peaceful.

The road was mostly up, rolling, but the grades weren't steep, and the roads were really quite smooth. (I know you T.I.V8 veterans will be unbelievers there, but really, the roads were near perfection!) We were motoring along at a pretty decent clip, but I didn't think anyone was feeling too worked just yet. Folks were sticking together and I wanted to make some hay before the weather got really hot, which it was looking like it was going to do later on.

One other thing I remarked on was how lush and green everything was where we were riding. The drought has really taken a toll up where I live. Lots of curled up corn, stunted beans, and corn that is completely dead and brown. Here it was the picture of health, but I suppose the heat has affected even these crops negatively, just not so you could see it. My riding companion, Mike, who lives up where I do agreed that things looked much nicer down around Grinnell. Even the wild flowers were in bloom, which totally floored me. I was expecting to see lots of brown and no flowers at all.

John's silhouette at the top of a B Road

Another concern that was growing as we went Eastward was the condition of B Maintenance roads. The area had gotten plenty of rain, which was obvious by the puddles we were observing at the bottoms of hills. Several B Maintenance roads we passed looked really wet and mucky too.

Our first B Maintenance road came at a place I routed around for T.I.V8, so it was all new to everyone on the ride. We dove straight on in to find that it was almost like dry cookie dough in consistency.  Your tires would sink in, and some of the dirt would stick to the tires, but would almost immediately fling off your tires as there just was not enough moisture to make the dirt collect.

I had visions of hike-a-bike coming into this, but much to our pleasure, it wasn't to be. The B Road went up a steep grade at first, which was great as the terrain was drier near the top of the hill. I didn't think we were out of the woods just yet though. I knew from past experiences that when the down hill side comes, there is often a big mess at the bottom.

Fortunately, it had firmed up enough that only one spot presented a bit of an obstacle to our "clean" passage, but that was easily gotten around. Back up once more to a right hander and back on to the Trans Iowa V8 course again for a while. Everyone was still together, so we pushed on to some more long-ish, rolling hills and descents which would lead us closer to our "breakfast stop".

I had eaten a couple of Clif Bars for my breakfast at 4:45am, but those were wearing off and I was getting hungry. I ate a few Shot Bloks and drank more fluids to tide me over.

Mike and Craig on the last B Road to Brooklyn
We finally made a turn Eastward and down, then up a hill to what was the first B Road on the T.I.V8 course. I recall that day on T.I.V8, sitting there shivering in a cold blast of East wind, squinting into the dim, dank scene looking for the T.I.V8 leaders. That day the B Road was a mess. This time it was dry and dusty.

We were flying down hill, silent, as you can only do on a B Road when it is dry, and I could see plumes of dust flying off the guy's tires ahead of me. It was a ton of fun, and why I like riding on B Maintenance roads in the summer.

Of course, there were two, really steep climbs coming out of this section leading to where we would leave the T.I.V8 course for a while. The road we took towards Brooklyn was actually part of the T.I.V5 course, only we were doing it backward. The hills get long and the grades slacker here, but it is still work none the less. Still- we were all together yet, and I had gotten word from Jeremy that he was on course and chasing us.

By now it was not cool anymore and the sun was full up in the sky. We were closing in on about 30 plus miles and Brooklyn was in our sights. We were all looking forward to a bit of rest, as we hadn't really taken a full on stop since leaving Grinnell. We got to Brooklyn in 2hr 54min, so I felt good about that. Not a pace that would win any races, but for such a diverse group of riders, we were doing nicely.

Tomorrow: Brooklyn and Beyond


Bicycle Kitty said...

WOW! This looks like a kick@ss ride!! Wish I lived out there and would surprise you cats.

MrDaveyGie said...

Good read I Always enjoy ride reports I shall be back for "Brooklyn and Beyond"