Monday, August 01, 2016

GTDRI 16: A Gloomy Start

Weird weather for late July
 4:00am Saturday July 30th:

The alarm goes off and I am up and getting ready for the 11th Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. Wow.......eleven of these deals! That's just crazy. Well, anyway, I figured that it would be a good ride. I knew most of the route well. Bits and pieces of it have been used before in various GTDRI's, Trans Iowas, and on my own rides. It would have good stop opportunities about every 30-ish miles, and the terrain wouldn't be overly brutal, as it has been on the last two version of this ride.

I got kitted up and left the house at 4:50am to make it to the start almost 6 miles from the house in time to get going by 5:30am. I could see a fingernail of the moon, but no stars. It was coolish, maybe in the lower 60's, and very humid. Maybe it would be foggy. Sure felt that way. There also was no wind at all.

How many folks show up every year is always a mystery to me. Usually I see about six to eight folks on average years. When I got to the parking lot of the Prairie Grove Park, I saw a decent line of cars sitting there, so I knew we'd have about the average amount of folks, at the least. Besides myself, seven guys showed up for the ride. They were Scott Sumpter, Jon Duke, Tony McGrane, Josh Lederman, Dave Schneider, Rick Chalfant, and Brian Terhark. A few rookies! Only myself, Tony, and Josh had ever been on a GTDRI before.

The murky weather didn't dampen the spirits of those in attendance.
I said a few words and we got to rolling a little before 5:30am, if my recollections are correct. At any rate, the Sun wasn't giving us the full force of its light due to the very low clouds and fog in the area. We almost blew the first corner out on the gravel when I was riding in the lead in "autopilot" mode. Typically I go quite a ways down Aker Road, but on this, the original route out, I was supposed to turn at Orange Road and go East to Ansborough, then all the way down. Thankfully I remembered at the last minute and didn't cause a wreck!

We were rolling along at quite a quick pace, I thought. That said, no one was complaining, and I figured that we were putting time in the bank to get the route done in full sunlight. We had until 8:30pm to do that. Ansborough is a gently rolling affair, so that tended to work in our favor as well. Whatever breath of wind there may have been didn't matter to the good or the bad, so that also wasn't a factor.

I figured in my head that we would probably take a quick break at some point past the halfway point to Traer, so we could do things that are hard on the bike- switch water bottles, feed, and the like. I chose the corner at the old Geneseo school to do that. With that stop we pushed on toward Traer. The route we were on was the route I have used for years, but most recently was a stretch of Trans Iowa v12 which we were running backward on. The section going into Traer is a pretty route with turns and a great view of the Wolf Creek valley which it follows along. Then it departs the river for a bit but continues to turn and wander into Traer. I like this section of gravel, but it certainly isn't hard to ride due to its flattish nature.

Tony is focused on the road while a red smudge of the Sun appears over the cornfields. We wouldn't see the Sun again till afternoon.
Riding through the Halls Of Corn on our way to Traer.
Horses prancing under foggy skies.
(L-R) Scott, Jon, and Rick getting ready for the second section
We rolled into Traer after about two hours and a little more of riding. That was doing quite well, I thought. We were, again as always, raising eyebrows and getting strange comments from the employees and patrons of the convenience store. That is to be expected, but what was not expected, and was a theme throughout the day, was how friendly folks were toward the group. That was refreshing to experience.

The next stop was going to occur in a little over 30 miles but not before we traversed two Level B Maintenance roads and some really big rollers in between. These Level B's are some of my favorite ones around, and I was looking forward to taking those in. Of course, with the Summer weather and lack of any recent rain, I was thinking that they would both be rideable. Why wouldn't I? The only time we ever have bad conditions on these dirt roads is right after a rain, or in the Spring when the frost comes up and the atmosphere doesn't promote fast drying.

After about a half an hour stop, we all meandered through the streets of Traer, which has some very nice, older homes in it, by the way, until we reached our intersection with P Avenue and more Southward leading gravel. It would not be until then that we would reach the first Level B Road.

Next: A Tale of Two Level B's

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