|Started out just like the DK 200!|
Just like the DK200 a week earlier, I had to wait for a train to pass. I had forgotten all about that until I saw the crossing lights fire up, and then it came to me, that a train stopped us on our way out of Emporia that morning. Ironically, the race directors had said they were trying to coordinate things to avoid just such an occurrence. Then the double irony of getting stopped again a week later.
Well, a lone rider crested the hill coming up to meet me just before the 8:30am depart. It was Robert. We chatted a bit as he looked over the Twin Six Standard Rando I am testing for RidingGravel.com. Then we hit the road. Temperatures were decent, if a little on the cool side, and we would enjoy a steady tailwind on the way out. I was a little nervous, truth be told, because I wasn't sure how long the legs and lungs would hold out.
|And then there were three......|
Not more than five miles out of town we were surprised to find that we had been caught by Jeremy. He was delayed in getting to the depart by.......a train! I was glad to have him aboard for the ride, and so the three of us motored on Northward, running into stretches of fresh, deep, chunky gravel along the way. In fact, I was surprised when suddenly I didn't see Jeremy. He was gingerly downhilling on the marbles and was slower than us, but otherwise he was okay. The deep gravel was sketchy, and he was being cautious. Our skinny tires were the reason. Robert had 40's on,but Jeremy was on 35's and I was on 32's. It was clearly a disadvantage in these conditions to be on skinnies, as our bikes were obviously handicapped compared to Robert's, whose Vaya was stable and faster than our rigs which were pitching sideways. I vowed never to run such skinny tires here again after Saturday's ride!
|Sharing the road|
|On Ivanhoe Road|
|Whoa! Wall to wall deep, fresh gravel!|
As we came around the North side of our traditional loop, I felt the wind in my face. I had been anxious about every hill and all the fresh gravel leading up to this point, and now with the wind, could I hang on? My legs were feeling weak and hurting, but I determined to gear down, spin, and see if I could hang on. Robert and Jeremy were gapping me off, but I held a decent speed and didn't totally lose contact with them. I thought back to a week earlier and how I was able to punch through some bad feeling times and up some difficult pitches with perseverance and smart riding. I just had to keep my cool and do what I could do.
I crested the topmost hill on Hilton by the Boy Scout Camp and then I felt better. I caught Robert, then passed him, and started the next climb. Things went okay until my lack of tire volume just killed my momentum. The deep, fresh gravel was killing these tires. I knew if I had on some MSO 40's or even the 38mm Gravel Grinder tires, I'd have been going great guns. As it was, I was in limp mode with the stock tires on the Standard Rando. Thankfully, it takes bigger meats. And trust me......it is getting a tire swap pronto! Watching Robert on his 40's was all the proof I needed that skinny tires just do not cut it on Iowa gravel.
That said, later in the ride Robert and Jeremy were remarking on my sprints up hills. I was feeling good, and gassing it up every steep hill on the way back. It cost me though, as I am not 100% recovered from the DK200 just yet. I was a zombie the rest of Saturday, even falling asleep on the couch for a spell! But it was good to get out again, and I think things will progress from here.