Monday, July 27, 2015

GTDRI '15: Part 1

The start was in Backbone State Park.
The 2015 Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational was this past weekend, and like many of these events, there were some surprises, and some tough parts for all involved. This year the event was deemed a big success by those who showed up to ride it, but it didn't come easy!

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 start comes up out of the lowest point in Backbone State Park, and it is a steep climb out. Many of those in attendance later remarked at how they were sweat soaked by the time they got up out of the park. It would be the theme for the day. I cannot count how many times I thought about how bad we must have smelled to others throughout the day!

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. 
The initial miles were not remarkable except for the immediate camaraderie between the riders. It always amazes me how soon people are getting to know one another on these rides and the way that folks seem to be open and accepting is rather remarkable. Not only considering these times, but from the perspective of cyclists overall, it is refreshing to find this to be the case.  I'm pretty sure most of the riders had never met before, which solidifies my feelings about this phenomenon.

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 
This section represented the first big climbs of the day, and we were grunting along in our lowest gears, but there were no complaints at all. Everyone seemed to be of good spirit and the riders were chatting and carrying on as if they were on an easy, flat terrain ride. The clouds were keeping the Sun at bay for the time being, and a delightful Easterly wind was blowing us cool air from time to time as we made our way to the day's first stop in Wadena, Iowa at 39 miles into the route,

The first "big" climb to test our legs
Getting to Wadena wasn't easy!
The clouds started thinning out as the morning progressed. 

Oddly enough, we didn't slow down, nor did anyone seem to want to. Miles passed by, but the resolve of the group held firm, and we did not stop at all for about 30 miles from the start. It was pretty remarkable as far as I was concerned that the entire group was okay with hammering out three hours of riding with no respite. I thought about this a few times, but given the fact that I also felt okay with it, I let those thoughts die in my head, and just kept pedaling.

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.
When we reached Wadena, I had felt the ride was going spectacularly well for everyone, and in particular, for myself. I felt strong, and the heat and Sun weren't bothersome yet. However; almost immediately after arriving at Wadena, I couldn't find my money, credit cards, or ID. I frantically searched all my bags, to no avail. I struggled to recall what I had done with the stuff, and I clearly recalled that I had set my money and credit card holder on the back bumper of my truck. My heart sank.....

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


Robert Ellis said...

That looks like a great ride! Would love to come up there and ride it with you all one of these days.

Unknown said...

all these newfangled bikes and alarm clocks and digital jellybeans making donald trump the ruler of the world.

what you people need is the 3 basics...

1. a schwinn crosspoint modded for any gravel or dirt or paved road (true temper my friend 2xbutted) WITH butterfly bars thank youz.
2. a lynskey m29 or otherwise cush ti hardtail 29er
3. a 3xbutted true temper 26er (like a trek with a 29er rigid fork and 650b front wheel....I have no idea how it will handle but will find out this weekend and am sure it will be amazing as I am amazing and basically the smartest person in the world only slightly lagging behind Mel Blanc.