Monday, March 28, 2016

Gravel Travel Saturday

Red sky in the morning, and all that....
Saturday was "gravel travel day" and I was not to be denied a chance at getting out there to enjoy it. I decided that with a forecast that looked to be rainy around the noon hour that leaving a bit earlier than usual was maybe prudent, but I wasn't going to place all my bets on beating the weather. So, I packed a pair of rain pants in the Tangle Bag and wore my Bontrager Lithos Storm shell as a way to ward off any potential showers or rain.

I had a couple of folks indicate that they were going to meet at the usual place to ride with me, but when you get up in the morning with showers in the area, you never know who you might see in the parking lot. I was quite surprised to see Ron waiting when I pulled up. It has been quite some time since I have pedaled on the crushed rock roads with him. That left the other two that indicated they may show up, and within a couple of minutes, Robert and his yellow Fargo appeared on the horizon. We chatted a bit, then Jeremy finally came along, so it would be a foursome. After allowing Jeremy to catch his breath since he was a bit winded from his effort to get there, we left under sullen skies stained with the red of the early morning Sun as she rose in the East.

Being chased by the Three Musketeers of gravel!
I rode the trusty Black Mountain Cycles "Orange Crush" rig. It had all the bags already attached, plus the big reason I took it along- mudguards. I know.... Here in the US we call them "fenders", as a general rule, but after having witnessed first hand what these devices are really good at out on gravel, I'll go along with the UK moniker- mudguards.

I was prepared for the rain to come, and I planned on doing the entire route, the 3GR route, and then, maybe, a bit more. Maybe. I had to clear that with the family first, of course. We headed out with a Southwest wind at our backs, and it seemed easy to go fast, well, at least I thought so. I looked back a couple of times only to find myself off the front. I wasn't meaning to be doing that, but we did hit the first part of the gravel with quite the head of steam, so I guess I was thinking I was just keeping the pace the same. Maybe I wasn't. I don't do computers and devices, as a general rule, so I have no real good idea. All I know was that I felt pretty chipper.

Ivanhoe Road. This is the last we would see of Jeremy for a bit...... There he goes off the front!
Jeremy decided he had some Strava business to attend to, as Robert guessed at when it was happening, and he took a flyer on Ivanhoe Road. We were a bit perplexed at the sudden burst of speed, but we were content to let him go, as we were having a good ride and conversation. The road wound around North and West then we came across Jeremy at the corner where Hilton Road turns South towards the Boy Scout Camp. Then it was my turn to go.

Hilton's rollers are a favorite stretch of road for me, and I often turn on the burners to high and cook myself trying to go as fast as I dare up the short, punchy climbs and down the long, fast slopes past the Boy Scout Camp. Instead of waiting up at the "T" intersection, I hung the left and climbed the slow, lazy curved stretch of gravel up, trying to squeeze out more effort from my now tired legs. Down the following hill, and turning right on Ivory Road, I looked back to see Robert close behind and another figure I assumed was Ron. It turned out that it was Jeremy. Ron had decided to peel off to the West at the intersection and told Jeremy he was headed back to Cedar Falls.

My view most of the way back after we got to Bennington Road
I was starting to feel the effects of my efforts after we gained Black Hawk County once again, and it was then that I recalled that I had a Garage Bag full of gels on board. I took one and ate it while hanging on to the back of Robert and Jeremy. This propelled me down the road again for a bit, but then I started to lag a little once again. I suggested we turn up Burton Avenue, since it made no sense for us to continue on to our starting point. We all had ridden down to the start of the ride.

This would, of course, put us on a more direct course to Cottonwood Canyon, the downtown Waterloo coffee shop, where we would end up stopping at for post ride cups and treats. The place was busy, and the young lady at the counter asked if I wanted breakfast. I thought that was odd, since I've never been asked that any other time we have stopped there. Jeremy reminded me that we had started early, and our infernal pace got us back into town in time for a late breakfast there, had we wanted that. Nice!

Oh, and it never did rain. Not a drop. In fact, the Sun nearly made it clear of the clouds there for a bit during our ride. The rain held off until quite a bit later in the afternoon, but the winds were pretty heavy by the end of our ride, so there was that. Robert continued his pursuit of miles after our stop, but Jeremy and I went back to our respective homes, which I was swiftly taken away from again by my family to go shopping.

At least the day started out right!

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