Thursday, August 04, 2016

GTDRI '16: Coming Up Short

What a contrast from the morning! Getting ready to leave Eldora.
Eldora Iowa: I'm lying on my back in the grass at the back end of a Casey's Convenience store trying to gain an advantage on my poor condition. I was battling the stomach bloat, and I was hoping that by resting a fair amount that I could recover and get my legs back underneath me. I also was momentarily falling asleep at times. A condition promoted when I run short of energy. I needed to rest and eat. The resting part worked in as much as I felt refreshed, but when I tried to eat, I could not muster the desire nor did I feel that I could stuff another bite down. Clearly, my gut wasn't working right. This put a huge damper on my mental state of mind as we ended up pulling out of Eldora late in the afternoon.

Initially, we had several miles of pavement to get to gravel. As we left Eldora, we noted a youth cruising on his bicycle with arms outstretched, coasting down a hill. I think the fathers in our group were both smiling and cringing at the freedom and the risk, but it was a beautiful site. I thought to myself at the time, "This is why we ride our bicycles! The feeling we get is like that." He looked free, full of joy, and without a care or fear in the world.

Then we left town and caught up with the gravel at T Avenue and headed up North to get to our most Western point on the route. Dave sidled up to me to quiz me on the route, and I explained what was happening. He then sped away, and I thought that I might be falling off the back again. A quick count of riders ahead confirmed my fears, I was getting dropped. Those fellows could accelerate at will and hold a pace that I was not capable of this day. I knew I was pushing it to go 10-11mph on a consistent basis. This wouldn't do. Some tough decisions would have to be made.

This turkey walked right past us like it had no fear of humans!
As the miles started to pile up again, and the ride was headed to the crossing of the Iowa River, I decided that enough was enough. I wasn't going to get any better this day, that much was obvious. My legs had been burning for hours, like when you are not getting enough oxygen to your muscles, and I had about a third of the power in my legs that I usually do. Worse, I felt sleepy at times.  I could limp it in, but at what cost to myself and to those guys who could literally fly up the road if it weren't for me? Plus,would I crash from falling asleep on the bike, or tear up my muscles because they weren't being fueled properly? Yeah.....I had to cut the guys loose and call in for a ride. 

As much as I was disappointed I was also relieved that I now knew a solid plan of action. I had to keep in contact with the riders ahead and when they would, at some point, mercifully stop and wait for me to catch back up again, I would spring the news. Then they could continue on without worrying about me and having to wait on me all the time. It was the right thing to do, but just when that would happen, I didn't exactly know.

I managed to catch up with Dave again at the beginning of a steep descent that was littered with loose gravel. He was not willing to take it without using his brakes, so I went on by him. I figured my wider tires were worth something here, but I was sorely disappointed again in the Teravail Sparwood's lack of any lateral grip. My Fargo just about got away from me twice, and I wasn't even letting it fly as fast as I could have. That was disappointing. The one thing I could enjoy without pain all day and I had to rein it in. Oh well. Those old Maxxis tires were a lot better at this than these new Sparwoods are!

In the meantime, I saw that a few of the guys ahead had missed the turn and were 3/4's of the way up the next hill. A couple of guys who weren't sure had held up, and Dave was behind me. I motioned that we should have gone right and I took the turn, crossed the bridge, and parked. Meanwhile, the three guys that were hesitant about the corner gathered up with me. Then I tried texting Tony and Josh, but got no answers. Then I decided I better spring my news on those who were there, and I said I would wait for the others there in case they came back. Dave and Brian decided to get a head start, and they took their leave of me. Meanwhile, Tony and the others discovered their mistake and came back to the bridge where I told them of my plan.

There is an odd, old steel bridge alongside the road just East of the bridge over the Iowa River on 170th Street
The long climb out of the Iowa River Valley isn't all that bad.
Barns for Jason
There was a little bit of trying to sell me on continuing, but I knew it was not the best plan for me so I deflected all encouragement to keep going, knowing these fellows would be faster and have more fun without worrying and waiting on me. So it was that just before they all hit 100 miles for the day that they left me and sped away up the long, gradual climb out of the Iowa River Valley.

That was all I had. I fell short.......
I fiddled around for a few minutes to make sure that they left and were out of sight before I made my climb up alone on the gentle grade out of the valley. It was cooler in amongst the woods, and I actually enjoyed the climb at my own pace. I reached the point where the group would have turned left and North, and I stopped to put in a call to my wife.

After I got the call in and she was on her way, confident of where to pick me up, I only had about a mile or so to go before my ride was done. I parked the trusty Gen I Fargo by leaning it on a signpost and sat myself down in the tall grass of the ditch. I watched a spider sling itself on its own web like Tarzan across huge blades of grass, and bees making themselves busy with the work of collecting pollen. I didn't really feel too badly about stopping. I felt relieved.

Sure, I was disappointed that I didn't get all 145 miles in, like the rest of the crew did, but a century plus is nothing to sneeze at and I had given it all I had within the bounds of not doing myself any harm. Still, I didn't take up the invite to go meet the guys at the bar in Hudson. I just didn't feel like I deserved to do that.

I went home and Sunday was rough, but I got better as the day wore on. By Monday I was back to commuting by bicycle and working like always. No worse for the wear. So, that is my tale of the 11th Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. A rousing success by most accounts, as I have heard. Yeah.....it sucks for me, but that's the point of it all. Why do a ride I know I can do when doing a ride I am not sure of may become something I can be more changed by and get more out of. Success is measured in weird ways by this culture, but I don't always adhere to those rules.

Thanks: Thanks to Brian, Dave, Rick, Tony, Jon, Josh, and Scott for coming along to ride this route. You guys made a weekend of memories I won't soon forget.

Next: After a special Friday News And Views there will be a GTDRI Gear Review.

2 comments:

Steven Butcher said...

I really appreciate and can relate to your account of the 11th GTDRI, Mark. As having had a similar experience with the Spring 2016 Geezer ride, although my distance ridden in that event pales in comparison to the distance you rode in the GTDRI, I note having had similar emotions about holding others back and punishing myself. Hey, it's not a race and the "prize" for doing this is the enjoyment and fellowship; right? You pushed your limits and have a lot of great memories! Same here. I still think back on the Geezer ride, and though disappointed I did not finish the ride, was glad I participated. Sometimes I think I'd like to have another hand at it. Thanks for your candor!

Tim said...

A great many things in our culture are measured in weird ways. The courage and perseverance comes in doing what you believe is best for both yourself and others. Success comes in the adventures of life and relating honestly to others, in my opinion. Ride on, Mark!