|And then there were six....|
Well, little did I know that our convenience store stop had a Subway sandwich shop attached to it. And also- I didn't know about Matt's egg and cheese delight that he has from Subway. I copied him to a "T" on choices, which befuddled the help there. It was a good choice too. Went down easy with no "gut bomb" afterward. Nice! Thanks for lettin' me copy ya Matt!
We had a nice stop, but Craig and Courtney were out for the rest of the ride. Craig felt the cramps and being out of shape was too much. Courtney had a month of job training coming up away from home and he had to leave the next day. Can't blame either one of them for stopping, and that's exactly why I planned a bail-out option. At least they got to ride some of the awesome course with us. So, with Dennis dropping in Grinnell as well, we cut our numbers back to six.
We headed out again on some flattish roads, went by the proposed, but never used barn finish from Trans Iowa V6, and crossed I-80 after some big rollers. Then we hit on some wide open, flat, brutally hot gravel just east of Newton.
|Rollers! (Image credit- Celeste Matthias)|
Someone spied a small patch of shade cast by a tree just off the road and it was universally decided upon by us to bask in the relative coolness of this roadside treasure. The recuperative effects of just stopping for a minute or three can not be underestimated here when it is this hot! Unfortunately, folks were looking a little too comfortable for my tastes, so I called for a roll-out and we were off again into the heat and dust.
We were back on the back end of the T.I.V8 course. This was the section where folks were having a hard time of it with all the hills, chunky gravel, and winds that day in April. It wasn't as chunky, but there was a decent covering of gravel out here. Very dusty too.
This part of the GTDRI was also the hilliest part. I had told the guys under the shade tree that it was going to be brutal. In fact, I was painting a bad picture on purpose just to make it seem not so bad when we did hit those hills. Of course, with hills you get descents as well, so we had some hair raising falls into valleys and then the big grunts back up, which were baking us going Northward.
If you've never been out on a hot day with some breeze or wind, it feels better going into the wind, or with a side wind, than it does to have a tail wind. Tail winds are usually a good thing, but when it is hot, and you are climbing a steep hill, no thank you. I'd rather have a head wind all day when it gets that hot than ride up hills with a tail wind. Your mileage may vary.
|Salvation in the form of rain|
Ideas were considered from bread sticks and marinara sauce, to "hot pockets", (don't ask!), to the almighty pizza slice. This went on for several miles until a big grunt of a climb pretty much put us all into silent mode. It was very hot, still, and in the distance, we could see a massive thunderhead forming with peals of thunder grumbling from on high. We didn't think we were in any danger, but it was obvious this was a big storm. Fortunately for us, it was a well timed one.
We were going up the long climb of Iowa Street, then Immigrant Avenue to E 84th Street North. I called out that I needed a stop at the top. I was absolutely cooked about this point of the ride. I did my usual flop onto the ground, to the amusement of a few of the group, but the ground is usually the coolest place to rest on days like this. It wasn't long before I sensed a change in the air.
|Welcome to the flat state of Iowa! (Image by Celeste Matthias)|
Of course, the other guys were going to be digging this as well. We had a few guffaws and great conversation at the top of this hill. That said, we needed to get a move on, and I wanted to seek out this cooler air and make the best use of it while we could. It was also about 2:30pm, and the day wasn't getting any shorter! The good news was that at this point we were halfway to Gilman and our next convenience store stop.
So down we went and up, then down, and up again. This stretch went on for several miles. The further north we went the more shaded we were by the towering thunder storm clouds. Soon we could feel occasional rain drops. Then a full on sprinkle. Now I was getting revived. I have always struggled with heat, but bad weather, rain, snow, whatever, seem to be the times I have my best rides. Long rides anyway.
Whatever the case may be, I was a different person now. Zooming up the steep climbs on North 99th Avenue East, I was getting teased by Jeremy, who was claiming I was passing him, "like I was Contador or something.". Hmm.......must have been the beef!
Okay- this is getting a bit long in the tooth, so look for Part II of The Longest Leg tomorrow when I show you a "C Road".