Sunday, October 13, 2013

3GR: The Last One For The Year

The colors of Fall were evident
The day had finally come. The last 3GR for 2013. I had thought maybe I would ride on into November at one point, but Trans Iowa recon beckons and I need to be out driving the proposed route to verify it and get the mileages and so on.

A bit of a rain scare turned out to be vapor and the day dawned cool and breezy. Not a cloud in the sky to start things out with. I left the house with plenty of time to get to the meeting place, which I stuck with throughout the year. I had to move the start from the Cedar Falls location used last year due to consistent Spring flooding, and I ended up just sticking with that place throughout the Summer and into the Fall. It worked out really well, and our Cottonwood Canyon coffee shop stop was a nice treat at the end of each ride.

I wore a long sleeve thermal jersey, but otherwise I made no provision to protect against the cold. It was forecast to be going from the upper 40's through to the 60's by the rides end.  I figured I could suffer for a bit to start out with and get warmer as I rode along. The new Shimano high-zoot XC shoes we got at Interbike weren't going to keep my feet warm, that much was certain.

As I pulled up to the lot where we start, I saw Craig's rig sitting there. Nice! I knew Mike would be coming as well, since he sent me that message the night before. At least three of us then....Then Mike showed up, but he drove! Usually he rides over. A bit later we saw Robert crest the hill to the lot. Awesome! A group of four for the last 3GR!

The harvesters were out in force. Here's a corn picker....

A couple of combines glinting in the Sun with grain heads fixed and ready.
Tracked grain wagon and tractor

Downloading soybeans
As we got going it was evident we would be pushing against a wind for a big part of the ride. The breeze was out of the Northwest and we were obliged to go North, then Northwest, for half the ride. It wasn't bad to start out with, and we enjoyed the ride despite some newer, freshly graded gravel coming out of town which was not too big in size. That was a bit surprising.

Craig and Mike- Going up!
It was becoming evident to me as we went along that I was going to hurt after the ride. I had good speed and power, but my legs were barking the whole ride. Oh well, I didn't ever have the feeling I was out of gas or having to back off, it just hurt a bit was all.

The wind wasn't helping either, in fact, it was getting worse as we went along. Eventually it was a 12-15mph constant breeze with up to 30mph gusts. Gravel conditions were dry, but I would say 95% of the roadway was always covered in gravel, which made finding a line that was smoother difficult.

For this last 3GR of 2013, I pulled out the trusty Black Mountain Cycles Cross rig with the Bruce Gordon Rock & Road tires mounted up. I was running 40psi out back and a bit less up front. I think I may have had a bit too much air in them, because the rear tire was wanting to wander around and push sideways in deeper gravel. I think 35psi would have solved that and I would have had as good or better rolling resistance.

The point where we had to turn back in the rain two weeks ago was passed and we headed North of Denver to our West turn and eventually to go Northwestward right into the wind. I knew this part was going to hurt!

Farm Auction!!
As we went along Ivanhoe Road, we noticed a mass of cars and mostly trucks parked along the gravel road on each side. It must have been a farm auction. The cars and trucks left only a lane down the middle of the road for us to pass by and it was an odd sight! Like driving down an urban inner city street more than an idyllic countryside road, which is what Ivanhoe Road is normally like.

Then I noticed that Robert wasn't his usual self, and was off toward the back, rather than pushing the pace, as is his usual. Hmm...maybe it was the wind? We were going right into it, but I knew that soon we should be coming out of the wind and getting a push. Well, I hoped for that, at least.  Unfortunately, the direction of the wind seemed to be keeping pace with our course directional changes, and when we turned it wasn't long before I noticed we were pushing against the wind again. was going to be one of those rides, eh? Up over the rollers on Hilton and I didn't feel to bad, actually. Apparently neither did Mike or Craig, as they were right there with me, but Robert shot way out the back. Guess it was more than just the wind.

Flat Tire!
We hit the rollers up to our left turn, and then the next set to Ivory Road, which winds its way down to where we almost always see a shaggy furball of a dog run out. This is the dog that never barks, but he'll run out, sniff the rearmost rider's tire, then turn back toward home.

Robert was waaaay off our back, and Craig was feeling spunky and charged the hills on Ivory Road, getting way out in front of us. That strung us out, but when we passed the home where the dog lived, neither Craig, nor Mike, nor I drew him out. Hmmm......maybe he wasn't home today? Maybe the dog was sleeping? I don't know. We crested the hill, and started down the other side, looking back to see if we could see Robert. I couldn't see him! I was a bit concerned, but then Mike, who was slightly behind me, said that he saw the dog run out for Robert. I smiled. Yep! Always after the last in line! Then Mike noticed Robert pulling over, and I thought I had heard Robert shout something. Was he bitten by the dog! We turned back to go find out.

Nope! Just our very first flat tire in two years of running the 3GR. That's all it was.

That's a wrap until next year!

We all helped out as we could to get Robert up and running again, then set off to finish up the loop. The wind was getting stronger and was definitely out of the West/Northwest, which was making the thick gravel covered roadway even tougher.

The rest seemed to help Robert a bit, as he showed better speed after the stop, and we all slogged along. Mike noted we weren't talking much, but as it was a lot of work to get along, I thought that it was natural to not have much conversation.

That all changed when we finally went East. Ahhh! Finally, a true tailwind. My frozen feet were warming up, and we could chat easily now as the wind aided our efforts, and was less noisey in our ears. We rode four abreast and we were finally at ease and having a lot of fun. It would have been great to have continued Eastward, but after about 4 miles, we were obliged to turn back South again, with more rollers, and the wind quartering into our faces.

We slugged out the final miles with Craig and Mike duking it out going up the hills ahead of Robert and I. Finally we hit pavement, and turned into Waterloo where we rolled up to the downtown area to have our coffee stop.

It's been a fantastic year of 3GR's, but it is time to shut it down until next Spring. I have to start doing Trans Iowa recon, then November with registration for Trans Iowa, colder weather is coming, less sunlight, and Winter on the doorstep. I want to thank anyone that came along for the 3GR's this year, especially Mike, Robert, Tony, Craig, and anyone else that happened to at least make one of these throughout the year. I have enjoyed each and everyone of you on these rides and had a ton of fun.

3GR will return, and maybe with that a new course heading South from town? Who knows. Until then.......

1 comment:

GravelDoc said...

It's uncanny how the wind can be in your face not matter what direction you're going. Seems like the "prevailing winds" in the Mid-West are subject to change at a moments notice.