|Steve Fuller rode over from Des Moines.|
April- You never know what you'll get for weather. It could have been 40 degrees with rain, or it could have snowed the night before. Who knows? I was certainly concerned what it may turn out to be, but I cannot decide or change the weather, so whatever it was to be, it would be. Unbelievably, it actually turned out to be one of the best Spring days I've ridden on in years. Actually, the last two weekends have been glorious. Who knew?
Anyway, I headed down to Grinnell after waking up at 4:00am in the morning, packing up, and driving down to meet Steve Fuller, Robert Fry, and whomever else might show up, for breakfast at the Frontier Cafe in downtown Grinnell at seven o'clock in the morning. It was quite chilly when I left Waterloo, as it got down to 30°F. Ice was all over my windshield, but temperatures were forecast to rise dramatically just after Sunrise. There was to be a Southerly wind, but they claimed it wouldn't be too crazy.
|Once again, the turnout for the Geezer Ride was bigger than I expected.|
Anyway, I was stoked on how many were there and I knew we'd have a great ride, however, I wasn't prepared to see just how many did end up coming. In the end, we had 24 riders, some from many miles away, and several locals. One rider came from Michigan, and two from Illinois. Really, I was quite blown away by the participation. Maybe more so by the fact that Steve, a man I graduated from high school with 36 years ago, and hadn't seen since those days, showed up to ride as well. I was very humbled by the turnout.
So, there we were standing in the crisp air with a bright morning Sun shining down. I said a few words and we were off to find the gravel North and East of Grinnell. (No! Not on the T.I.v11 course!) The crew was in good spirits and there certainly was a lot of chatter going on!
|Riding past Grinnell College on our way out of town.|
|Starting to string out on the rolling hills North and East of Grinnell.|
|Trouble with Dogs: This Corgi got away from its owner and was frolicking amongst the riders stopped at a corner.|
|The owners finally corralled the pooch and gave him a lift back home.|
|We stopped several times to gather up stragglers. It was a no-drop ride, after all.|
|Big skies, gravel roads, and a bunch of fun loving cyclists. What a grand day out!|
Speaking of B Level roads, I witnessed several folks pulling over to look, and even ride up and down, these curiosities, which I found amusing. They would get their dose of these roads soon enough!
|Geezer Ride Barns For Jason|
|Kevin rocking the gravel on his brand new Warbird 105|
|Dropping in to the B Level road. This was the same stretch of dirt road used in the 1st leg of T.I.V8.|
We had to turn South and the big, rolling hills North of Brooklyn were taking their toll on the group. Down to 22 riders now, we were strung out a long distance over the windswept gravel. The gradients here were likely in the 12%-15% range and many riders were walking their bikes up the steepest stuff. It didn't help that the wind, now blowing at around 20mph and gusting higher, was straight into our faces.
Still, the faster, stronger riders were courteous and would wait at intervals for the stragglers which I was busy trying to keep track of so we wouldn't lose anyone out there. Finally we reached 370th and our left hand turn out of the face of the wind. The really bad hills were now behind us, and the dirt was just ahead. I sped ahead of the pack so I could grab some images of most of the riders coming down into the dry dirt road. A few exclaimed as they went by that the best road of the day- so far- was this one. Ha! If only they had been on this when it was wet, blowing hard, and rainy for a Trans Iowa. I bet the opinions may have been opposite of what I was hearing Saturday!
|Waiting on the final rider to pass, and then I followed down this hill and up the next onward to Brooklyn.|
|Avenue Of Flags in Brooklyn, Iowa|
Once we crawled South and East a bit to Brooklyn, we stopped at a convenience store for vittles and drinks. A couple more riders decided to head back to Grinnell on pavement. They'd had enough, but were gracious and claimed that they had a great time. Just not quite ready for the level of effort that was required this day. The gravel was tough every mile. Deep, fresh, or with the looser, soft spots. Hardly any "typical" cleared paths and harder tracks to follow out there. Add the wind and it was quite the workout. Even the seasoned riders exclaimed at the finish that they were worked over out there.
|More rollers- not as steep and big though- West of Brooklyn. Note the fresh gravel and how the tire tracks pressed into the looser dirt on the side here.|
|Heading to the South turn to Malcom, Iowa. Somewhere between there and Malcom I pinch flatted.|
Now, somewhere between that corner and the middle of Malcom I must have pinched my tube, because as we were rolling through Malcom, one of the riders pointed out my tire looked rather low. Sure enough, my rear tire was pretty soft. I tried to just pump it up and to see how far that would get me. We continued on after a short vote to add in two more miles of dirt road which the riders were eager to try out. It was Diagonal Road which is at railroad grade, and since the roads were dry, I said let's do it!
|Me shooting someone who was shooting us on Diagonal Road West of Malcom.|
|Putting the mechanic skills to good use: Image taken by Steve Fuller|
Once we got started I had to stop within a few hundred yards to add a bit more air, but I got going again, and by this time we all were really off the back. It was a mile or so North then West for the final miles of the Geezer Ride.
It wasn't but a few miles and we found Steve, the fellow I graduated with, then a few more, along the roadside. We were seven or eight strong and headed back, but Steve was feeling the miles and fell off the pace. I slowed way down to help tow him up, and he caught on to me a couple miles from town. I decided to take the first turn into town, instead of the planned second turn into town, just to get Steve back out of the wind sooner, and we ended up pulling in, as what I assumed were the final two riders in. However; good ol' Steve Fuller, Robert, and Tony were waiting for Steve and I at the second turn into town, and when they hadn't seen us, they called and messaged me to see what was the matter. Well, I was a bit embarrassed to have not thought about them waiting for me, and told them we were already done. Not long after, here they were, and we were all accounted for. The Geezer Ride 2 was over.
Epilogue: The Geezer Ride 2 was a big success from the standpoint of its intentions. It is meant to provide those with none to very little gravel road riding experience with an avenue to try it out under the least competitive atmosphere possible, yet have a challenging experience that may have them achieving something they didn't think possible. It is a casual, fun atmosphere for the seasoned cyclist and a time to share fun and adventure with like minded cyclists. I think all involved fit into this somehow and all seemed to actually have a good time.
Some riders asked about future Geezer Rides and some even said they would come to the Fall Geezer Ride. (?!!!) Which, ya know........I have never mentioned doing, but I guess there will be one! I am planning to do a Geezer Ride 3 with the venue to be up here in Waterloo/Cedar Falls sometime in August, so stay tuned for that. Anyway, it is obvious that the concept is popular and that folks really want to do this more. That speaks to the success of the ride more than anything I could say.
Thank You: Thanks to all 23 other Geezer Riders. I am still humbled and deeply grateful for your attendance and excellent attitudes. Some of you had a really hard ride, overcame adversities, and finished. I am very blessed to have witnessed your experiences. Thanks to David Long for doing the recon on this ride. Without his ride to make sure the route was good a week before I would have had a bit more stress coming into this one. Finally- Thanks to Wally & George for inspiring the Geezer Ride concept and for your attendance at this ride.