|Waiting on a rider. Image by R.J. Fry|
I had done the planning and organizing for this at the insistence of a couple of friends, who ultimately had to back out of the ride for reasons beyond their control, but I am really happy, and more than that- satisfied- by what came of this day. I'll get to that later.....
I had gotten word a couple of days ahead of the ride that Robert, a local gravel/rando rider, was free to go and "would I like to drive down with him?" Plans were laid to leave at 6:30am to get to the meet-up point in Amana by 8:00am when the ride was to start. The trip was smooth, and as we approached the designated spot, I felt that we would be the first ones there and would be waiting to see the few riders that might show up roll in. I knew about a few commitments to come, but you know how that can go. I wasn't expecting more than six riders in total.
|Rolling out of town.....finally!|
Yes, it was called the Geezer Ride", and most of the assembled riders were qualified to bear that moniker. There were a few "youginz", and we even were graced by the attendance of Dee, the lone female to show up for the ride. She wasn't backing down from the challenge set to her by her friend, Ed, and that even though she had only been riding since April of this year and never had done a gravel ride. Well, that was pretty cool, I thought, and so we had a great group. Two were on fat bikes, just for good measure!
I led the assembled horde out on the bike path, which petered out on our side of the road, then picked back up on the opposite side. I got my wires crossed here and missed the road out of town that I wanted to take. I stopped and my bewildered mind had trouble reading the smart phone map I was looking at. Finally my brain turned on and we made a backtrack and were on our way......finally! Up a long, gentle climb by the golf course and back up to our first gravel road. There we had our first stop to gather up stragglers.
The first B Maintenance road was coming up soon, and I wanted to stop there to give a fair warning to those less experienced with these dirt roads. A trio of barking dogs came out from an adjacent farm and while they were barking vigorously, it was obvious that they were a bit befuddled at seeing thirteen cyclists in a bunch. We pulled out and started our dirt road descent, leaving the puzzled canines behind.
|The bottom of the first B Road descent. This was where Wally & George took some T.I.V10 photos in the Spring.|
|Climbing back up the other side. R.J.Fry taking images up ahead, and....|
|......he gets me with Ed (L) and David (R). (Image by R.J. Fry)|
|"Hero Gravel" and spectacular Fall color in the trees. A theme throughout the ride.|
Not far East up the road from there was to be another stop, and one of the highlights, in my opinion, of the ride. Swedenborg Church. My hope was that the giant maples out in the church's lawn would be in their full Fall glory. I was not disappointed!
|Any bike can be a gravel bike.|
|Barren fields, grey skies, and a hint of Winter in the air.|
|Then we finally get back to the trees!|
Then after the gathering up of riders again, we made a Southward turn into some rollers that featured short but steep ups. As the main bunch of us approached one of these, a Dodge Ram truck came over the top of the hill just in front of us at full song. Fishtailing and spewing dust and rocks, we estimated that it flew by us at 70mph! Whatever its speed, it was way too fast and we were fortunate that all of us were on the right side of the road going up that hill.
After this we arrived at our next left hander and gathering up all to see if we had all escaped the madness of that truck's passing, we rolled back into the pretty, winding gravel roads. It was a spectacular set of roads that led us down to the Iowa River Valley and our next stop to gather up the tribe again.
|Looking up back the road we descended down to our gathering up point. Less than 10 miles to go!|
|Knapp Creek Road was an awesome, gentle climb with spectacular views.|
|"Rock Ends". It means a good helping of dirt is dead ahead!|
|The B Road proved to be a really fun one to ride.|
|The final miles were mostly down hill or flat to town.|
The first stop was Millstream Brewing Company, where a good pitcher of "Backroad Stout" was consumed. Whilst we were relaxing outside the brewery, we suddenly saw a welcomed sight. The three missing riders appeared up the street and were riding straight towards us!
|A smiling Dee crests one of those "unflat parts" and lives to tell about it! Image by R.J. Fry|
Eventually, Ed, Michael, and Dee took their leave of us and Marty, Robert, and I went to the Colony Inn and had a great family style German dinner. Pie and ice cream ended our dining experience there and eventually we all set off for home after what I would have to describe as a stellar day out on the bike with good people.
We were especially proud of our newest riding friend, Dee, who despite the hated hills made an end to the course successfully and now is well on her way to becoming "one of us". (<===HA!) Welcome to the "dark side", Dee! I hope you find many more miles of smiles on your bicycle wherever you decide to ride! Just keep on pedalin'!
THANKS: To all who showed up to this ride, thank you! I was blown away that you all came and some from hundreds of miles away. To Wally & George for the inspiration for, and naming of, The Geezer Ride. You were missed and you will come to ride this route someday! To Robert Fry for the ride to and from, the images, and the excellent company on this trip.