|Winding our way slowly up out of Elkader|
So, with that reality facing us, we moved on out of Elkader under an unrelenting Sun and climbed up and up to the highest elevations we would reach for the course. We stopped a few times under whatever shade we could find, just to drop our core temps when we had a chance. Lance was heard on several occasions praising slight puffs of air as being the best thing since sliced bread. Yes.....it was ridiculously hot. When you get that warm, you can feel an ice cube's vapor from a mile away, or so it would seem.
When we approached Ironwood Road, which has unfortunately been paved since we did the route twice in '09 and '10, Jeremy started in on how there was no way he was riding Impala Road. Now, this road has a pretty well known reputation amongst Northeast Iowa cyclists. It isn't a long road- maybe two and a half miles- three miles long? But what it lacks in length it makes up for in roughness. Typically this road, which bombs down the side of a steep, tall hill, is most like a mountain bike trail than it is a road. The bottom, (which technically speaking is a different road, I understand, but we're going with "Impala Road" anyway), runs along the Turkey River, and depending upon flooding, could be benign, or really a mess. Who knows what we'd find there, but first, there were some other things to overcome before we even got to that infamous dirt road along the Turkey River.
|Imperial Avenue was another B Level which was a great escape from the Sun and a fun road to ride up.|
|There were some giant rollers featuring steep climbing just before the dirt of Impala Road.|
Imapala Road is more than just about a B Level Maintenance road. It has a gravel section about two miles long, and there is not one single meter of it that is flat with the exception of a bridge deck at the bottom of a steep ravine. So, by the time we reached the beginning of the dirt, which is at the summit of another grunt of a climb, of course, we were obliged to "chill out" a bit. Now, it needs to be said that Jeremy managed to talk a couple of the other riders out of doing Impala Road, for fear of the roughness of it. This would come back to bite them later on, as we will see!
So, anyway, we were taking our leisure under the shade of a crab apple tree and munching on Sun-ripened apples from another tree nearby. After a brief spell, we all managed to get back onto our bikes and bomb down the dirt, which wasn't quite as gnarly as in years past. It would seem that someone had actually been doing a bit of maintenance on this road! A bit of water erosion prevention was evident, and a lot of the rubble noted on the upper end in years past had been cleared off. Impala Road still wasn't easy, by no means, but it was fun. The lower regions being mostly affected by storm damage and rutting of the Amish folks wagon wheels.
|We kind of took over the convenience store in Elkport, much to the chagrin of the locals, it would seem.|
|The right turn on Hennipen Road. You can see the riders on the left in the distance at the foot of the big climb here.|
|At the top of the Hawk Road climb. We were all super cooked!|
I noted while I was resting on Hawk Road that my upper calves were "crawling". Like I had parasites underneath my skin. It was odd, and it looked like something from an alien freak show, but I didn't feel anything out of the ordinary. I suppose my electrolytes were depleted and my muscles were freaking out. I started to drink liquids in earnest.
|Looking back down Hawk Road the way we came up.|
I was determined to get to the top, and past the "spot", but my legs had other notions. Cramps! So, I hoofed it up the road, Jeremy did as well. I also noted others off their bikes, but some actually did make the climb and disappeared over the hill where I was laid in the ditch by a white Silverado only a year before.
|Tony and Jeremy recounting the details of an event that happened a year ago at this very spot in Clayton County.|
Oddly enough, the scene didn't really hit me one way or the other. Quite frankly, I think it was because I was so consumed with merely existing and trying to get it together to move on that the past didn't matter. I really didn't even ruminate on the crash and my experience one bit. Eventually we were moving up the road again, and I gingerly pushed against the pedals expecting a "lock-up" to occur at any moment. Thankfully, that didn't happen, and perhaps due to my taking of two Gu Energy Endurolyte caps, it didn't happen again for the rest of the day.
|The last highlight of the day for all of us was Bixby State Preserve road.|
Well, then there was the beautiful climb out of that ravine, and then on to Mission Road towards Strawberry Point. It is only a seven mile jaunt to town from the turn out of Bixby State Preserve, but it seemed to take forever, and now I was running out of steam. I stopped along with Marty and Derek and downed some gummy bears. Then I got going again. I made it back to Strawberry Point a little before 7:00pm and headed toward a convenience store to grab a Coke. Inside I saw Lance and his daughter, Josie. Lance asked kindly if I'd sit with him while his wife went for their car, since they were done, and Joe, their companion, could ferry my truck back as well. So, I kindly accepted that offer, and with 106.75 miles in the books, I finished my GTDRI for 2015.
Tomorrow: Some comments, a gear review, and final thoughts on the GTDRI '15.