|Six weary riders: Image by Celeste Matthias|
Matt headed straight to the beer cooler and on his way to the register he lifted a sixer of Bud Heavy Tall Boys and softly asked, "Would you help me with these?" Of course, the answer was an enthusiastic "yes". I went about my business grabbing something suitable to munch on. Hmm....two packets of Planters Cashews should do fine.
Matt and I went outside and repaired to the back of the convenience store, out of sight from most folks, and started to drink our beers. Soon the rest of the guys followed suit and brought their purchases around the back and we had ourselves a little sit down for a bit.
By now the sun was back out in full force and we could feel the temperatures rising back through the 80's and on through the 90's again. But for now, we were just enjoying a bit of rest and conversations. Things eventually wound down though, and soon we were slowly adjusting helmets and topping off bottles for the final 14.8 miles back to Grinnell.
|One last B Road|
Then I had one last scheduled B Road to traverse. It was another goodie. Smooth, fast, and scenic. It's just great to be able to ride these in summer. It is too bad Trans Iowa guys hardly ever get to have that opportunity, but with every season there are drawbacks. Good B Roads in summer, but it was also 100 degrees at the time. Ouch!
It didn't stay that hot for long, as the sun was lowering in the Western sky, but by now, with all the heat and miles, my legs were zapped. I was pretty much in survival mode by this point of the ride. It was nice to have John slip back a few times to chat to take my mind off of my burning quads.
The thing about the Grinnell area is that there is hardly a flat road near it. The road we were on had some average rollers, but they may as well have been mountains at this point. I was barely crawling over the tops of each successive hill.
|Dirty, Dusty, yet strangely happy: Image by Celeste Matthias|
Turning the corner on Broad Street we laid eyes on the start line we left 12 and a half hours earlier. That was right about what I was hoping for in regard to time. I was satisfied with the group's performance, realizing that our stop in Gilman went on a lot longer than maybe it should have.
John's wife, Celeste was there and someone suggested we line up for a photo. We shook hands, congratulated and thanked each other, and waved good bye to Jeremy, John, and Cody. Matt, Mike, and I still had three miles to go to get back to our motel rooms and a nice shower.
These rides are always kind of odd at the end. You share an entire day on a bike, struggling with the others on the ride, and it is impossible not to have shared something a bit more than the usual. I won't get all dramatic here, but those that have done long, long rides with others through some less than ideal conditions will know what I mean there.
|Making our way back to the rooms....|
As I rode the last mile along the shoulder of Highway 146 South, I thought about how blessed I am to even be able to do this stuff, much less have folks come from so far away to join me in this madness. It truly is an honor for me.
We got cleaned up, were joined by Mike's wife Amy, (who celebrated her birthday that day), and had a killer Mexican meal. Afterward we went for some ice cream, and drove around like teenagers in Mike's car like we had nothing to do. It was a sweet ending to a great day of cycling.
Thanks to... The Riders: Dennis, Courtney, Craig, Matt, Mike, Jeremy, John, and Cody. Celeste Matthias for the awesome images. Jeremy and Mike for sharing images. Mike and Cody for sharing GPS data, and thanks to all our spouses and families for understanding our gravel road riding passion.
Ride Data: Total Distance- 122.5m (Matt, Mike, and I actually got in about six bonus "to and from" miles from the motel and back). Total Ride Time: 9:36.34 Total Elapsed Time: 12.44.03. Elevation Gain: 5873Ft. Minimum Temp: 59F Maximum Temp: 104F (Thanks to Cody Matthias for the Garmin GPS data)
NOTICE: The 3GR will be happening tomorrow at 8:30am from the parking lot of Gateway Park if you are interested. Should be about 27 miles of gravel road fun!