Tuesday, April 02, 2019

C.O.G.100 Event Report Part 2: The Chilly, Windy Challenge

N.Y. Roll helps a rider get signed on the morning of the C.O.G. 100
Before I went to sleep on Friday evening I had a breakfast invitation from a former Waterloo cyclist named Scott who had just moved to Grinnell. What's more, he lived right across from the start venue for the event. Also, N.Y. Roll stayed with him, so it was a no brainer to stop and meet up, have some excellent breakfast, and get going for the day. The event photographer, Jon Duke, also was there and provided the excellent farm-fresh eggs.

That was the last time I was warm all day. the winds were in the 20+ mph range already, with higher gusts, and the air temperature was in the lower 30's at the start. N.Y. Roll and I set up on-site registration on the tailgate of my truck. We had 24 more show up and that brought the total number of riders to 76. I gave a bit of a pre-race meeting talk, and then it was just a wait for what seemed like forever to get to 8:00am and the roll out began.

Before we took off I had made arrangements with Tony, who showed up that morning in his gleaming new Ford 4X4, to ride along with him. My thoughts being that the roads were going to be just too much for my wounded truck. The check engine light was on by this time and I had no idea if the thing would even get me home afterward at this point. But Tony was amenable to driving me around, so that made life a little easier.

So there was a good roll-out, then I peeled off and doubled back to park the truck and hop in with Tony for a long day out in the country. N.Y. Roll went on ahead to watch the front end of the event unfold. After I was in Tony's truck, we drove up through the field slowly from the back. It was a completely different view for me, as generally speaking I ran the front end of Trans Iowa and never did get to see much of the back half of any of those events.

Riders milling about just before the start. It was very blustery and cold!
And they are off.....
This view of the event actually provided me with the opportunity to catch some things as they occurred to the riders. We saw a local rider, Robert, having to pull over to clear mud from his frame. We also caught the demise of Steve Fuller's Singulator. We saw a lot of riders walking hills, clearing mud from tires, or swapping out gear. It was a unique viewpoint for me as an event director. Of course, I have seen a lot of this from the saddle as a rider, because I'm usually back this far in the fields I participate in.

It was clear from early on that this was going to be a very tough day.
So, I have seen the "look" of events for many years, and from varying viewpoints, and we weren't 20 miles in when I knew that this one was going to be one of those events with a high attrition rate. The cold winds, the very mucky roads, and the issues both can cause were just going to be too much. I think late March is a tough call to hold an event in Iowa. But......you never know. And there is CIRREM, a late February, successful Iowa gravel event, so people seem okay with adverse weather. But I feel that this Winter, being a record breaker in terms of snow and for how fast it got melted, well...... It's just one of those deals. We could have the event in July and it would be something else. Too hot, too much this, too much that. You never stop second guessing that bit. But as I was riding along, I thought that there was no better road conditions for a single speed event. The mud would have trashed a geared set up lickety-split. The wind was something we could have done without, but it is what it is.

Early miles in the C.O.G. 100. Image by Jon Duke.
We eventually slow-rolled to the Mile 28 Level B, the only one I included in the event. I wasn't really beholden to having this feature, but so many folks like there to be something like this in the events I do. So, there was a token mile of it. As it turned out, the riders who had wider, higher volume tires actually rolled this, or most of it, as it was a downhill, and the surface was fairly firm. The eventual winner, Ian Hoogendam did this, as did eventual 4th place finisher, Josh Magie, who was on a fat bike. This put them out in front of a lot of riders who walked this section.

Josh Magie, eventually finishing in 4th, rolls past those who hike-a-biked on his Ice Cream Truck fat bike. Image by Jon Duke
We hung out here at the end of the Level B section on 330th Avenue for a bit watching the riders hike out and then spend time scraping more mud. Scraping mud. Man! How many times did we see riders scraping mud from their bikes? I bet more than a dozen times. That should give you an idea of how tough the conditions were. I saw one person describe the roads as "B Road Lite". I'd have to agree with this. The wind was one thing, obviously, but it also benefited riders at different points as well. The mud? It never let up. It was bad throughout the entire event.

Then there were hills. Constant hills.
The third part of the knockout trifecta were the constant, never ending hills of Poweshiek County and what little tidbit of Jasper County I added in. These, in concert with the difficult roads, were really the worst parts of the day, to my way of thinking. The result was that it was just too much to take for some, and we were getting DNF call ins fairly regularly here and there.

N.Y. Roll and Jon Duke getting the images of riders near the halfway mark of the C.O.G. 100
Eventually, Tony and I rolled up on the halfway mark of the event, right where Jon Duke was taking images. We stopped here and saw Hoogendam, then second placed Josh Magie, and others roll by. By this point, the front of the event had been blown to bits with riders being ten to 20 minutes apart from one another. It was becoming increasingly clear that the time limit was going to bite a lot of riders before they got an official finish.

We didn't leave this point until Trans Iowa winner Luke Wilson rolled up and he actually stopped to chat a minute. This was odd, because Luke generally is a diesel and keeps motoring. We found out later why he may have not been in such a hurry later when he called in and said he was done. The math wasn't in his favor, or he just wasn't feeling it, maybe both. At any rate, we knew it was another mark of a tough, tough day. Whoever finished this one within the time limitations was going to have really earned it.

Next: Bitter Ends And Champions

6 comments:

x3speed said...

As a first time single-speeder, I found the very soft climbs a big challenge because you couldn't keep the rpm up. The tires would just dig in. It was like doing single leg press, one leg at a time for 6 or 7 hours. By the way, I want to thank you for that 6 mile southward road after the B-Road, it was beautiful! Then came the road with the bridge in the picture. That got slower and slower as the road got softer and then the right turn at the end up the hill...oh brother.

PedalingPower said...

I remember that right turn. It looked so brutal and I think I walked it as well!

Ted...I'm eager to see any photos of me suffering. When do you think Jon will post his photos up and/or will you link it on your blog?

Thanks again for the great event!

Guitar Ted said...

@PedalingPower- Jon is releasing the Smugmug gallery tomorrow. I will; have a photo review up later to0day as well. What was your race #? I'll look for you.

Zach Bonzer said...

Those hills were relentless! Up. Down. Up. Down. Had to pedal on the downhills, then mash the ups. If it was a tailwind on the downhills there was still no relaxing. One had to pay close attention to the conditions and pick the right line.

PedalingPower said...

#366!

Guitar Ted said...

@PedalingPower- You might be in more images, but the only one I saw that clearly showed #366 was plate 42. Check it out when Jon posts the link, or look for the link here tomorrow morning in my Photo Dump post.