|The start was in Backbone State Park.|
I woke up at 3:45am to get ready and drive the 60-ish miles over to Backbone State Park to meet up with whomever was going to show up and ride at 5:30am. Well....not really! Knowing how humans usually do things, I figured if we took off before 6:00am, we were going to be good! So, I arrived with plenty of time to spare, even if we'd have started at 5:30am. I ran into our first rider, Derek, as he was preparing to get ready for the day, and I was excited to see who else might show up.
I didn't have to wait long before several other vehicles with bicycles attached to them began to show up. We had Martin, with his blue Fargo, Joe, Josie, Traci, and Lance from Dubuque, and Jeremy from Waterloo. Then a couple of brothers showed up from the Cedar Rapids area, the Frey brothers, and finally, at the last minute, Tony from Waterloo came screaming into the lot to make 11 riders with 10 bikes. Yes- one was a tandem. The first on a GTDRI, and the stoker, the eleven year old Josie, becoming the youngest to ever do a GTDRI.
The forecast was for a beautiful day, 80's, but humid. No big deal, since that's par for the course come late July. At least it wasn't looking like there was a high probability for thunderstorms. As we got ready to ride, it was apparent that the humidity was going to be a big issue, as it was 72°F at the start, and there was hardly any wind.
|The Sun had yet to rise, but we were on our way.|
The opening miles were on pavement , but we turned onto our first bits of gravel after about 3 miles in to it. The roads looked great, and we were all pretty stoked to be on our way. It was the first year of the GTDRI to have a tandem team, and Lance and his daughter Josie were looking good on their Vicious Cycles tandem with same side drive, which I'd never seen before. Joe was on a Tamland Two, which was cool to see. Tony was sporting his classy Rivendell Atlantis, and there were a few cyclo cross bikes in attendance. So the 11 riders and 10 bicycles went forward to meet the day.
|The opening miles of gravel looked like this.|
|Eventually the Sun made its presence known and it would be a major factor later in the day on the riders.|
We cruised right through Strawberry Point, and then hit the historical "A Mission Road", or Mission Road, as it is most commonly referred to as. The road was an early 1800's Army supply route, and then became an important supply route to settlers in the area of Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota before the railroads came through. It still exists as a gravel road running contrary to the typical grid system here, and takes one Northwest from Strawberry Point. That led us into our first big hills for the day South of Volga, Iowa and circumnavigating the St. Sebald church.
|That road in the distance is one we took to go around St. Sebald Church|
|The first "big" climb to test our legs|
|Getting to Wadena wasn't easy!|
|The clouds started thinning out as the morning progressed.|
When we did stop it was at a place the ride had stopped at last year. There is a little ranch gate just past the spot where the Trans Iowa V4 landslide occurred at, and that's where we took a brief rest before rolling into Wadena.
|Barns For Jason|
|Cruising the last few miles to Wadena. The Sun really popped out at this point.|
|The first extended stop in Wadena.|
I stood around shell shocked and wondered for a minute if my ride was over. No money, the prospect of loosing credit cards? Could I ride back to Backbone in time to retrieve the stuff before anyone found it? Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed. Tony gave me some money to resupply at Wadena, and Marty was on the phone to Backbone to see if he could rouse anyone there to go look for my stuff on the bumper of the truck. With a downcast heart, I stuffed a few items in my face, filled my bottles, and we were off to get to Elkader about 30-ish miles more up the road.
The day had grown mighty hot and the skies had totally cleared off. This was not at all the forecast I was led to believe we would have, but it fit right in with the cookers we've had for previous GTDRI's. So, it wasn't like I was surprised, I was just a bit disappointed and I was fearing the worst for a while. Eventually, I realized it was what it was. I just had to manage things the best way I could, and rely on the others to support me in more ways than I had realized from the start.
Next: I Love A Parade- Part 2