Monday, April 04, 2016

Renegade Gent's Race 6.0: Hard Fun

Rest stop on the way to the event.
Renegade Gent's Race Report-

You know I like the Renegade Gent's Race a lot if you've been reading here for a while. It is by far and away one of my favorite events that I get to do. I love my teammates, the format of the event, and somehow the crew that puts this on has managed to keep the "fun factor", grassroots feel without becoming a marketing machine, despite its having 300+ people in attendance. These guys have found sponsors to cover some of their insurance costs, and even found a cool charity "entry fee" that makes the event even more special. So, first off- Thank you to the organizers of the Renegade Gent's Race. You folks are brilliant!

The other thing that was "brilliant" was that, somehow or another, we got a start time that was about an hour later than we normally get. That meant I didn't have to get up at 4:00am. Awesome! So, I was happy to get up an hour later and since I had everything prearranged to go, it was an easy departure.  I arrived in the start town of Slater, found a parking spot, and got out of the truck.


Folks shivering in the biting wind, getting ready for the event.
 The wind and temperature was combining to make this feel a lot more like Winter than Spring. I saw a report which claimed the temperatures were to be going as high as 50°F by afternoon, but it was in the low 30's at the time when I arrived, and with the 25-30mph winds, the wind chill was definitely into Winter-like territory.

I got my gear on and threw my two bags of cat food into a messenger bag. food. The event was benefiting Animal Rescue League in honor of Des Moines area cyclist, Julie Hugo, who died recently and was a big proponent of animal rescue. So, I bought the suggested $15.00 worth of supplies, in my case, cat food, and brought it to the Nite Hawk Bar where the event was to start to drop it off. On the way over I saw several others getting ready to go and people were already being sent out on course at this time as well.

I felt the bite of the wind on my hands, despite having my wool liners on. For some unknown reason, I brought my second pair of wool liners when I packed, and it was then that I discovered the reason why. I needed them to ward off that wind!! I went back to my truck to drop off my messenger bag and I slipped on the second pair of gloves, which felt adequate. Barely so, but I figured I would warm up as I got into the event. Besides, I recalled some previous Gent's races where I overdressed for what became a warmish day, and roasted. I kept things minimal this time. No insulated boots, no tights this year. I wore a base layer, jersey, and arm warmers with a windbreaker. It was a bit iffy at the start, but again, if it was going to get to 50......

Our team captain, Steve, signing the waiver

I was ready to roll, and so was Sam, who I found when I was going back to my truck. We chatted a bit and then I reconnected with him at the bar. Steve was the next to show up. We had about a half an hour to go when someone asked when we thought D-Corn would show up, and we figured he would be a last minute show. Usually is anyway.....

Bob messaged the Facebook group and said that he was in a car with One-Eyed Zeke, who missed the exit and was driving a bit crazy. He said he thought they would be there soon. I turned to see D-Corn there already, and so it would be Bob that would be running last minute. We waited......waited...... Then decided we'd better line up. Our start time went by, then about two minutes later, Bob rolled up. Whew! For the sixth time, Team Careless Whispers would roll off the start line! Our streak was intact!

Waiting on the rest of the team after a headwind section, playing with a bocce ball I found on the roadside. Those are seagulls in the distance!

 The event's course stuck us into a headwind immediately. There were many expletives sounded as we came out from behind the last building in town that sheltered us from the full onslaught. It was every bit of 30mph with higher gusts. The only way this was going to work was for us to organize a five man draft. So, we were trying to get that going, but a couple of the team guys were a bit skittish about being so close to other riders. The first section into the wind was, thankfully, only about four miles or so. Then we got to turn South for a bit. At the corner, we held up to collect the team. I was up front, and as I pulled off, I saw a blue ball on the edge of the road. I picked it up, and it was curiously heavy. A bocce ball! In the middle of nowhere? Oh well......

After we gathered everyone back up, we enjoyed 20+ mph cruising with the wind for a short bit. I knew after this we had several miles to go West, then a ten plus mile slog straight north. This was going to be really, really tough. 

Teams reorganizing at the point where the course first turned South. The wind was separating teams like confetti.
Casual conversation at 25mph. It wouldn't last long!

The Westward turn wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. Steve pulled us in echelon for quite a while, then I took over the point, but at that moment we hit some rollers, some of the only ones on course, actually, the wind was lessened for whatever reason. Maybe the lay of the land was shielding us for a bit? Not sure, but the effort needed wasn't as bad as I feared it would be.

However; there was that long stretch Northward we needed to turn into, and when we did, it was nothing short of breathtakingly hard. We managed a tight echelon, and we were working really well together, actually. Faster teams were blowing by us by this time and we were not at all concerned. We were crawling, but it was a manageable pace for everyone on the team, and despite our very sub-ten mile an hour pace, we were doing quite well. The other guys kept remarking on how well things were going, and in general, we were surprisingly upbeat.

We had to stop at one point to get the team back together after a couple of the guys fell off, and it was only our second full stop of the day. Whiskey was passed around, and then we headed out again. Surprisingly we continued until the end of the head wind stretch without another stop. Sam, at one point, stated, "So, we do eventually turn at some point. Right?". The seemingly unending hell of head wind and echelon riding was going to come to an end at some point, but it was very taxing, on me at least. Eleven miles is what the stretch was, to be exact, and I've never worked so hard to do eleven miles of gravel road riding in my life.

Following Captain Steve into the checkpoint on up ahead. The tailwind was intoxicating.
We took a brief breather at the turning point as we were going East and South for a while before we reached the checkpoint at 31 miles into the event. Ten miles of tail wind now with a brief, slap in the face half mile of headwind near the end of that. It was a good thing we got that reminder too, because the tail wind section made you feel like a hero. The second half of the course was to feature another long slog into a headwind, so this short reminder coming into the checkpoint was making a few of the team members rethink their strategy. I was game to continue, as I was feeling good coming to the checkpoint. I was hungry, but that could be taken care of soon. I was a bit concerned about the time, since we were well over three hours to do 31 miles, and the timing cutoff for the event was at 3:00pm, less than three hours after we were to arrive at the checkpoint.

I cruised up into the Snus Hill Winery lot, where the checkpoint was located, and dropped my left foot onto the ground, as I usually do when I clip out. This time I was alarmed. My foot was numb! Not just from being cold either, but the sort of numbness that is nerve related. It was amazing I didn't fall over, actually. My muscles were functioning, but I couldn't feel a thing, like my foot was asleep. I soon discovered this extended to just below my knee. I was deeply concerned, and figured that if it did not clear up quickly, that I was done. I didn't say anything right away, hoping against hope that I would recover.

Renegade Gents 6.0: (L-R) Sam, Bob, G-Ted, D-Corn, and Steve.
Well, it wasn't getting any better after a half an hour, so I said I was done. Then, three other team mates jumped in on the mutiny. Seems as though they had previously decided upon not continuing but were waiting on the conversation to turn to leaving the checkpoint. Steve decided that since he was going to be riding in the upcoming OGRE event, he would ride the rest of the route. So, we bade him farewell, but not before snapping some team images off.

Then Sam and I retreated to the Snus Hill Winery's interior for a couple of Dale's Pale Ales. D-Corn ended up joining us. Then we rode back to the Nite Hawk.

Yeah.....Pretty much the last ones to leave. Again!
Caught these wheel suckers on camera coming into Slater.
Well, that was basically it. Sam, Bob, and I had a shot to celebrate the ride, and a few Bud's. It was a strangely successful ride, by all accounts, but there was the bittersweet taste of not finishing the entire route. But really...... who were we kidding?!! The wind was crazy, and anyone that rode the Gent's Race was a hero. That was a crazy, crazy wind to be out on a bike in, and gravel roads just made things that much harder.

My foot and leg? Well, feeling was returning after about an hour, and now it just feels sort of odd. But everything is functional. I spoke with Mrs. Guitar Ted after I arrived at home about it, and we felt that maybe it had something to do with pushing so hard for so long on a saddle that maybe isn't quite right for me. I think a Brooks Cambium saddle is going to be put on order soon.

So, with the sixth appearance of Team Careless Whispers, we were not successful in the results category as far as the event is concerned, but I do believe that we were successful in other ways. We gelled as a team seamlessly. We worked through adversity, again, as we have always done. We grew, and became closer friends again. We got to socialize after the fact, and that has not always happened.

Oh yeah, Captain Steve actually did do the entire route and got done within the prescribed time limit, so we have always had at least one of us complete every route. I would have liked to have continued, but I think prudence was the better form of valor, in my case. So, I am at peace with my decision.

Well, that's the story of the sixth Renegade Gent's race for me. I had fun, enjoyed my team mates immensely, and I am eternally grateful for Steve Fuller's asking me to be a part of this deal. I have cherished every single moment.

Until next year then.......


youcancallmeAl said...

Damn, that Slater looks like a beautiful little town!

youcancallmeAl said...

Looking at Google earth , they have a beautiful rails to trails route to Des Moines as well!!