|My riding partner, Tony, was the instigator of this adventure.|
It was raining!
That wasn't supposed to happen! I was a bit dismayed when I noticed that as I was preparing to go on Saturday morning. Tony had to work until 6am at his job as a fireman, so we weren't going to leave until 9:00am. That gave things time to clear up. But would it? The rain wasn't even showing up on radar at all, so there was no easy way to say if we would be starting out in the rain or not.
I threw on a rain jacket as I made final preparations. I had my nutrition packed away, which was the same as I used at Gravel Worlds- Epic Bars and Justin's Almond Butter packets. I had three water bottles aboard, and since we had plenty of water stop opportunities, I felt that was okay. Cues would go on the BarYak, and I had a brand new Banjo Brothers Waterproof Saddle Trunk, the redesigned one, on the back of the bike. I was prepared, and at about 8:50am, I bolted out the door to meet up with Tony.
It was raining very lightly, and I laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of doing a fat bike century, potentially in the rain. This could get real interesting! I made it to the meeting spot right at 9:00am, and Tony showed up right afterward. In the meantime, the rain turned to drizzle. That was a good sign.
|Things were drippy and wet as we left town via the Sergeant Road bike path and Ranchero Road.|
We found that the rain had completely quit, so before we even got West of Cedar Falls we peeled off our jackets and stowed them away. Then it was on out into the country. Our first town would not be until Dike, Iowa.
|Despite the rains, we saw plenty of harvesting activity all day long.|
|Leaving Dike, Iowa.|
|Onward toward Wellsburg under grey skies.|
|You know you are near Wellsburg when you start seeing the wind machines. The town is surrounded by them.|
|First stop- Wellsburg's Casey's Convenience Store, of course!|
At the Casey's Convenience Store, I picked up more water, a can of Coca-Cola, and a banana. That banana really hit the spot! With our business done, we saddled up and headed West again toward Eldora, which would be where we were to start going Northward on our giant loop. The roads were still in great shape, but the weather was cheerless. We had a slight quartering tailwind all the way out West as the wind was from the Northeast. It wasn't a big deal, as the wind was maybe only around 12mph or so with no gusts. The gently rolling hills did not present much of a challenge, and as things were remaining the same, mile after mile, and we weren't turning much, it became a test of mental fortitude. Just pushing the pedals round and round in a never changing sea of dried up corn and soybean plants.
Tony and I made the best of it by chatting and trying to figure out the local plant life in the ditches. I learned what "Snake Grass" was! It's always fun to learn new things and see stuff while out on the bike. Eventually we spied the Iowa River Valley off ahead of us and we knew that soon we would be in Eldora.
|The Iowa River just North of Eldora|
We didn't need food or water in Eldora and we had the option of hitting a small town further up the road if necessary, so since Tony and I were both good on supplies we made our way into our part of the course which would take in the Iowa River Valley. Tony and I have both ridden out this way before and we knew we were in for some big hills now.
The Iowa River Valley did not disappoint. It was beautiful and definitely very hilly. We had at least three big grunts going through there and the last one was a long, winding climb that had to be well over a mile long. Oh yeah......I used some of my cassette I hadn't touched all day yet through here! I will say that the 1 X 11 is a bit of a throwback in that the gearing jumps between shifts are big and it really affects your cadence. Not only that, but the jumps are not evenly gapped either, so it can kind of jar your legs and it throws off your cadence. I ended up gutting it out in maybe too high a gear several times because of the slight momentum losses between shifts just ended up slowing you down more.
|A flooded field next to the Iowa River|
|More harvesting activity East and South of Ackley Iowa. We witnessed similar scenes all day.|
|West Friesland Presbyterian Church|
|One goat, that I thought looked like a small antelope, was outside the fence.|
This would prove to be the most difficult stretch for both of us. It didn't help that the rollers got bigger, and the gravel was a bit looser through here, but it was what it was. We just kept grinding up every hill and trying to coast when we could, which wasn't often. Mostly it was just pedal-pedal-pedal all the way in to New Hartford.
|The long road to New Hartford was the toughest stretch of the 100 mile ride for the both of us.|
|Mile 88: Casey's Convenience Store at New Hartford|
Tony started out with a whole pint of chocolate milk and some chicken fingers. I got my water and a slice of Canadian bacon pizza. I went back and had a small bottle of chocolate milk and a Coca-Cola. After about a half an hour's resting and refueling, we both felt like new men. Tony said, "It's amazing what a few groceries will do for a man." Yes....we were both revived and ready to tackle the last of this course. We fitted our lights before we set off and turned them on, as the overcast conditions were bringing darkness sooner than it would come otherwise. Now, to knock this thing out.....
|The Cedar River Valley dead ahead. This was our last stretch of gravel before hitting pavement West of Cedar Falls.|
|Victory beer was had at Single Speed Brewery|
I still had to get home, and so did Tony. We finished up our beers and headed out into the night, as the Sun had set by that time. We rode together until Green Hill Road and there we parted ways. I rode the last couple of miles alone and I was thinking back upon what had just happened. I was pleased with how I rode and I am pretty happy about the day we had.
Looking back on it, maybe we should have peeled off in Ackley and rebooted on water, but in the end we were able to overcome that decision and finish strongly after the stop in New Hartford. Other than that and our initial missed turn to start out the day, there was nothing negative to say about the ride. My bike performed well, my tire choice was spot on, and the Bar Yak system afforded me a relieving position when I needed it. My left shoulder was a bit of an issue again though. It hurt from about halfway in and for the rest of the ride. Fortunately some Ibuprofen taken at the "goat field stop" took the edge off the pain. Nutrition was spot on again. Oh, and the flat pedals? Worked perfectly fine.
Fat bike century is now in the books. Now it is time to recover for a few days and get back after it again.