Wednesday, August 09, 2017

GTDRI '17 Report: Part 3- Unexpected Surprises And Big Hills

GTDRI Barns For Jason
The stop at Traer was lingering on and it was getting time to leave. I mean, it was 11:30am for cryin' out loud! Ha! Actually, I wasn't at all worried about time. I got to meet another Mark as a gentleman walked up with a furry dog in his arms and asked about whether or not we were out riding gravel. That led to deeper conversation and perhaps a ride with a fellow graveller in the future. (Thanks for the chat, Mark!)

We had convinced Kevin that the best Level B Road was coming up and it was only 25 miles to our next break. Well, Kevin bit on that, being the trooper that he is, and we set off toward Ridge Road and O Avenue. Based upon the recon I did of O Avenue I figured on seeing that weedy two track that looked as though it would disappear into nothing. It was about as remote and lonesome a road as you could ask for. Unique in these days and times, but 150 years ago, it would have been commonplace to see the roads like that and be "out in the middle of nowhere" for real.

So we went across the low water crossing of the Wolf Creek which was dry, and then onward to the first miles of O Avenue's dirt. Then I saw it......a road closed sign. Well, that was a surprise! Of course, I was thinking it was closed for good. However; when I rolled up, I got a big surprise.....

Ah.......hold on a min!
The once super rustic, weedy two track had been graded, the ditches defined, and vegetation all cleared. It was a gravel road except there wasn't any gravel! It certainly wasn't the Level B Road I saw just two weeks prior. Fortunately the widening only went about a half mile, but the entire three mile stretch had been bladed "smooth". Well, "smooth" if you consider that the grass was scraped off and the embedded rocks were torn from their resting places revealing a million fist to head sized pock marks in the earth. It was rough! Oh well.....so much for the "best" Level B Road on the route! 

 So we came out on the Southern side of that long run and went West and a bit more South on a couple of roads I hadn't been on in years. Then a turn onto N Avenue where I had never gone revealed some of the toughest, most scenic riding of the day.

O Avenue. Bladed! Gah!
Super long climb, (for Iowa), which had to be around two miles at least. Looking South on N Avenue.
That image above is the second to last one my camera got before the battery pooped out. Dang devices! Gotta be chargin' somethin' all the time these days, it seems. So, anyway, I didn't get a ton of images after this point since when I did, I had to get off, pull out my iPhone, and use that camera. I'm not adept at shootin' from the bike with that ungainly, slippery thing!

So, as we wore on into this next 25 mile section, it got kind of hot there for a while, and my legs were feeling cooked, plus, we were still going waaaay too fast! It was an "endurance race pace" when we were riding, and stops didn't last long. Speaking of which, Kevin, who had a body that wasn't having anymore of this nonsense, pulled the plug before the N Avenue climb and headed back to Reinbeck at his own pace. I'll have to go check that climb out again sometime, but I thought it was one of the toughest ones in the area on gravel. So, we were back to the six of us by the time that I decided to plop down in the ditch at the end of that N Avenue climb for a long rest.

No one seemed to be in a hurry to get up and going again, so I felt at ease with the stop and it was good to get a breather. I knew a bit of the upcoming roads, having had them on a GTDRI in the past, and there was one doozy of a climb coming that I wanted to be ready for. We chatted, laughed, and pretty much had the best time up there on that hill. It was a grand day, and we all felt super lucky to have been out riding in what can only be described as perfect weather for August.

So, we finally got off our duffs and headed Eastward, crossed Highway 63, and headed toward that climb I mentioned. The other guys were sprinting away from me, but I had to go my own pace. My gut wasn't wrong, but it felt odd, and I was super drowsy. Usually that means it is time for some sugar, but I had zero. Bummer! On I trudged..........

Next: The Best Was Yet To Come

2 comments:

Mark Watson said...

It was great to meet you and the others in Traer as well! Made my own trek to Reinbeck and back later that afternoon, saw the multiple bike tracks on the level Bs and thought how strange it was to see evidence of others where usually it's a solo venture. Count me in next time!

Rob E said...

That climb registered in the 10-11% according to the Garmin for a good chunk of it, not exactly where the Pugsley excels.