Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Last Big One Of 2018

When I set out my goals for this year, the last race I penciled in on my calendar was Gravel Worlds. I didn't plan on anything else after next weekend's festivities. Yeah......there are a lot of cool events in the Fall. True. However; I have my reasons for not wanting to do anything race oriented after Gravel Worlds.

Honestly, I wouldn't even do Gravel Worlds but for the people involved. Both the folks coming to ride and the organizers. Gravel Worlds is put on by some looong time gravel luminaries and they have a crew of excellent folks surrounding them who also have been immersed in the gravel scene long before it was "cool" or anything that folks in the cycling industry took seriously. In fact, some of these folk's involvement with gravel travel pre-dates my own entrance into the scene.

I respect that, but added on top of this is the fact that all of these folks have hearts of gold and are prime examples of why I love gravel riding. They took me in, they put me up in their humble abodes, and they were smiling and welcoming to others as well. How could I not go and see these folks? To ride in the event they create for us every year is a privilege and an honor that I do not expect will last forever.

Anyway, enough of that. This week is Gravel World's final prep week. I have a lot of stuff to pull together for this event and be ready to leave for Lincoln, Nebraska on Friday morning. That's an example of one of the reasons why I am not doing anything more after this weekend. I need a break to recharge after all this energy has been put into not only Gravel Worlds, but the GTDRI and the 24hrs of Cumming which came before that.

I know I need a break. All these events came in the space of a month, so for me, that's a LOT of thought, work, and not to mention physical beat down that the rides dish out, which drains me and I knew that coming into the year. I knew this stretch would have me needing to back off anything else for the remainder of 2018.

My plan is to enjoy some down time from cycling events, get some pre-Winter house chores done, and ride for fun. I may even make a couple of "pilgrimages" to certain places I want to ride. Stay tuned.......

Monday, August 13, 2018

New Tweaks And Sore Legs

Oh.....and in case you didn't know, my daughter named this "Captain America"
Well, I've been busy doing stuff since the 24hr of Cumming reports rolled out last week. For one thing, I put another saddle on the Raleigh Tamland Two. This has been sort of like a round table of saddles with regard to this bike. I never have had the same one on for very long.

I was pretty sure the Brooks Cambium was the saddle here, but then WTB sends over a couple perches for me to test and........well, I have to try those saddles on something! 

The good news is that I like WTB saddles a lot and generally speaking, if the saddle from WTB is wide enough, I will like it. That's been the issue though, many saddles they make are not wider. That's why I always used SST's until they quit making them and Pure V's and now "Pure" saddles, because they are the wider saddle model from WTB. Well, now there is a Silverado and a SL8 in wider widths so I am able to try and see if one of those will be my new go-to saddle.

My buddy MG has been a long time Silverado user and has had nothing but high praise for that model in the skinny-butt version. I hope that I find that to be the case with the wide load version. Oh yeah..... Keen eyes will also note that I swapped seat posts. This is the Salsa regulator titanium post. My third one in the fleet.

The Silca Tattico Bluetooth pump saved the day!
Saturday I got out for my first gravel ride in a week after my 24hrs of Cumming beat down. I had ridden back and forth to work all week, but my legs were protesting heavily and I was really fatigued. I tried getting longer nights of sleep, but I haven't been bouncing back as I'd like to.

So, Saturday was dubbed an "easy ride", just to get out and spin. I tried keeping it chill, and I did fine. That is up until Petrie Road's Level B section.

I got in there and saw that the rains we had gotten in the beginning of the week had made for some bad mud ruts and standing water. I got up on top, where that puddle is pretty much permanent, and I stopped to watch some young frogs leap across the road through the murky, discolored waters. It made me think later about AG chemicals and mutations, and..... yeah.... Poor frogs!

Anyway, I went to reach for my bike, and just as I am lifting it up, I hear a "psssssssshhhhhht!" Dang it! A puncture?!! Yes, a freaking puncture right then. So random! I futzed with it till it sealed up and then I had to pump it back up again. This rig I was riding had my Silca Tattico Bluetooth pump attached, so I got out my phone and opened up the app. I started pumping and the app showed I had lost air from 40psi down to 17.5! Whoa! That was close to not sealing up. Anyway, I pumped it up to 39psi and prayed it would hold out till I got back to my starting point.

Not a lick of wind. Dog days of Summer!
I took it extra chill on the way home but the tire seemed to be holding up. After a  bit I forgot all about it and was hammering home on Aker Road like any other day out here. Then I got to the pavement, crossed Shaulis, and hit the ramp up to the bike path. Bang! I bottomed out against the rim!

Well, that tire must have had a slow leak yet. No wonder, since the sealant blew out like crazy to start with and I probably haven't got much left there to get by on. The hole wasn't even super visible after I got back to the truck, but it acted like a big puncture. What the cause was is still a mystery. I will report on it if I ever figure it out.

The discouraging thing was that afterward my legs felt like they did after the GTDRI and the 24hrs of Cumming- roached! I am pretty concerned about Gravel Worlds and my ability to get 150 miles done there. It's going to be tough no matter what, but if I cannot recover fully by then I will be a hurtin' unit fer sure!

Meanwhile I have to turn around my BgP Black Mountain Cycles MCD rig before Thursday, as that is the rig I plan on suffering on for Gravel Worlds. That or my Gen I Fargo. So, stay tuned to see which bike makes the cut!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Touring Series: Announcing The Race Against Death Tour Series

A Guitar Ted Productions series
Last week I briefly covered the turmoil in my life between the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" and the next big self-contained, self-supported bicycle tour I rode on in the Summer of 1995. 

This tour was dubbed the "Race Against Death Tour" and today I will start reproducing the tale as it was posted here in 2009. I also will add new remarks and memories where appropriate at the end of each post. 

Once again, there were no cell phones, internet, social media platforms, or digital cameras. I will post images where I can, but this tour wasn't well documented in images, so there probably will be very few sprinkled throughout. A modern image will be used only where it depicts things I want to clarify, like where we were in that part of the tour via a map image, or the like. 

Beginnings and endings. It is what life seems to be all about. Changes can be good and almost always tough to deal with. That's what this story is all about. I called it "The Race Against Death Tour" back then for a few reasons. First- we were going to make it this time- do or die. That was pretty much Troy's take on this ride. We didn't make it to Canada the year before on the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour", and Troy wasn't about to have that happen this time. I thought "Race Against Death" was good from a humorous standpoint, but in reality, I was trying to out run my own demons that were hounding me from the recent past. It was a funny name on the outside, but on the inside of me, it was a "deadly" serious moniker.

Well, Troy thought we should have a third party. I thought so too. So I kept harassing Ryan to go with us. He didn't have a touring bike, and he couldn't afford to buy one either, being a poor "just-out-of-college-student". So, I told him that if I found him a bike, would he go? He said that he had some gear, but no tent. I said that I had a six man Eureka dome tent and we all could sleep in that. Well, it went back and forth like that until I basically brow beat him into coming with us. Oh, he was wanting it too, but I was pretty insistent that he go.

So, now I had to find him a bike. Great! Well, as fortune would have it, a fellow came in that needed to get a new bike. He was interested in a Bianchi we had. After talking to him a bit, he asked about trade in policies. I asked if he had his bike with him, and he did. Well, around the corner he wheels in a Schwinn Voyager. "Perfect!", I thought to myself. I went into big time salesman mode, made the deal, and had the Schwinn squirreled away before anybody else knew it was there. It was cheap enough that by that evening, Ryan had actually bought the thing.

So, parts swaps were made on all of our rigs while in the meantime we were thinking of a specific route. Troy had in mind two things: One was getting to his folks summer residence in Colorado which was on the other side of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Winter Park. The other was to see the Black Hills. Well, that made for some interesting route finding, but I was left to that on my own.

So I bought some road maps of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado. I spent many nights pouring over roads, campground sites, rest areas, towns and villages, and roads of course. It was coming together. Soon we would be making some final preparations, setting a time to go, and setting off to the West.

If you haven't read the previous entry to this, this post may make more sense if you do go back and cover that information. You can click HERE

I mention Ryan in that post and he was to become a really good friend for a few years. This story will help make that point clearer. The bicycle I arranged for him to buy actually came back to me directly after this tour because, well, that was how Ryan was. All-in and then All-out. But this will be covered later as well.....

The mapping and planning of the route would be totally different than the previous tour, which was basically done by the seat of our pants. Navigation was determined on the fly, but for this tour we had predetermined routes and targeted overnights for us to shoot for. This was, in essence, where I got the bug to map out things like Trans Iowa in the future, so this was a seminal moment in my history. Also, at the time, it allowed me to dive headlong into an activity which took my mind off what I was going through at the time. (Again- read that hyperlinked post if you haven't already.)

Another thing that was different was that by this point I had become far more proficient in road riding techniques and was in better shape than the year before. Going into this tour I felt a lot more confident in my abilities. While the distance and going into the mountains was scary and challenging, I was up for it. Troy was simply beside himself with energy for this trip. It would become a trip I would never forget.

Next: The "Race Against Death Tour" preparations and personnel changes!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Minus Ten Review -32

I miss both the bike and the trail in this image.
Ten years ago on the blog I was really busy testing forks, tires, and other stuff for my gigs online. I spent a LOT of time running back and forth to Cedar Bend Park and Camp Ingawanis every Wednesday and weekend. What is odd is that while the mountain biking was excellent, hardly anyone would drive up from Waterloo or Cedar Falls to partake. 

Most times I rode up there I never saw anyone. No other bikers and no walkers. Now a day doesn't go by when someone on social media asks about riding up there. I guess that's what it took to get the ball moving with trail use. Well, things are a lot different now then they once were. While the South Side trails, now called Ingawanis Woodlands, are awesome, the old North Side/Boy Scout Camp trails were far more fun, technical, and covered a wider area of land. If you did the "big loop" on the North Side, you weren't simply folding back in on the same hill over and over again. No.....you were riding somewhere. Covering ground. It was more like trails are in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or elsewhere. Not that what we have now is bad, but the Scout Camp wasn't like anything else anywhere near here. I could go on.....

The bike,the old, battered Superior Blue El Mariachi, was the last of its kind. Salsa tuned the compliance right out of the El Mar after 2008 and it never was the bike it had been before. It was a sweet, decent little mountain bike in the old school mode where you just rode for the experience of being in the woods. Not to shred or be some bike that was "playful". It handled quickly, didn't steer like a truck, and you could go up and down within reason. The only modern day bike like it is the current Krampus. Only the Krampus is a 29+ bike. But anyway, I ruined that bike when I had it repainted and re-purposed as a single speed. That was the dumbest thing I ever did with a bike within recent memory.

A very legendary visitor from Colorado was here to see me back then....
I was graced by the visitation of a somewhat legendary individual from Colorado named Mike Curiak back then. He had gotten a hold of me and asked about stopping by for a ride. What got into this man to come and cruise some humble, ordinary wooded single track in Iowa, I'll never know.

We rode in the afternoon and went to down town Cedar Falls for a cuppa then he split town and went back to Colorado, and onward to much more exciting things.

I was very grateful for his stop, and to this day, I owe Mr. Curiak a debt of thanks for helping Jeff Kerkove and I to formulate the foundations of Trans Iowa. Mike had a heavy influence on the initial rules, format, and ethos of Trans Iowa, and on some early tweaks I made to the event. It could be said that much of what became gravel racing and riding was influenced through Mike Curiak directly and by his friends who started the Great Divide Race and other Western ultra-mtb events.

If you ever read the following here: "If you don't like that, then maybe this event isn't for you.", that is a direct quote from Mike. There's more to this, but maybe I'll get around to that another time.

Trans Iowa v5 was announced ten years ago this week. It was a big deal since we moved the event out of Decorah due to the desires of a certain irritated cycling luminary from Decorah that asked me not to consider Decorah for any future cycling events I had planned. This stemming from the failed Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. Here's a snippet from ten years ago concerning this.....

"The next thing you noticed is probably the location change. We have felt all along that Trans Iowa should be about showing folks that Iowa is something more than "flat", corn fields, and pigs. There is a lot more to Iowa than that. We have endeavored to move the event around since last year when d.p, (David Pals) and I started talking about doing T.I.V4, so this move to Williamsburg fits in with our plans and our philosophy."

 So we were already thinking about getting out of Decorah, but we weren't going to do that until v6 at the earliest. The disgruntled shot fired at us in the Summer of '08 changed all that though. While leaving Decorah as our base for TI was a bummer, it wasn't without future benefits of which we had no idea about at the time.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday News And Views

Gear Review From The 24Hrs Of Cumming:

Well, not really much of a gear review  as it is a further word on the Black Mountain MCD, or as it has been dubbed, the "Bubblegum Princess", or BgP for short.

Essentially what I am finding is that it feels and rides a whole lot like a Gen I Fargo to me. Long time blog readers here will find that as high praise because they know how much I like that bike. I just fits me, and the ride is very comfortable.

It does handle a bit differently than the OG "Orange Crush" Black Mountain Cycles bike I have. It doesn't feel as short, and it feels as though I am a bit more "in" the bike and "behind" the bars which is what I prefer on a gravel rig. I don't like bicycles that make it feel as though the front wheel is pinned down either by geometry or weight distribution, or both. Those sorts of bikes don't handle looser, deeper stuff well at all. In other words, most gravel I travel.

When I set up this bike I had the benefit of having two other bikes I had spent a lot of gravel time on around here and, of course, the Fargo. Between the three I basically set the BgP up as something in between those bikes. Not as high and stretched as the Fargo, but not as low and compact as the Orange Crush or Tamland.

I said that I may tweak the set up, but honestly, I don't think that is going to happen after riding it this past weekend. The RedShift Sports ShockStop stem is amazing on here and I can highly recommend the Whiskey seat post that I have on here. VERY comfy! The Whiskey carbon bars are great as well. My bad shoulder never gave me any aches or pains from vibrations all weekend.

Sam Auen, host of the Cyclist- Not Biker Podcast
Cyclist- Not Biker Podcast:

This came out last Tuesday, but you should give it a listen. I didn't know how it would be as a podcast, but this conversation between myself and my "Team Pink" partner, Sam Auen came out really good, I thought. I figured that if it makes me laugh out loud, think, and generally feel good, then maybe you would like it too.

We rambled for sure since we had zero planning going into this. You can tell at the beginning and at another point where we really didn't know what to do, but for 95% of it we were pretty much on fire, and the dang thing is two hours long! 

We cover the death of Trans Iowa, some good TI stories, and then we get into the future of gravel, and what will keep it going strong from here. Like I have said elsewhere, there are swear words and you may not want to play this out loud in front of certain folks. Otherwise, enjoy! I had a blast doing it.

Sam has a post-event podcast in the can that we did, listen to that HERE. Again- it's sweary, so NSFW and certain tender ears. This episode is a bit more focused on the event.

 Trade Wars Update:

The tariff on bicycles and related parts, plus raw materials which I wrote about last week is in the news again. It is being reported by the trade publications that the 25% tarrif on e-bikes is going to be implemented.

This will have a detrimental effect on many e-bikes because most of them are manufactured in China at present. However; efforts are being made to move production by many companies. Not to the U.S.! Oh no...... But to cheap labor sources like other Southeast Asian nations, India, and Eastern Europe.

My view is that outside of the larger urban areas e-bikes are seen as being too expensive as is. This tariff will now affect those inner-urban centers where these sorts of bicycles are flourishing and pretty much kill e-bike sales in places like the areas I live in. I don't see e-bikes being real hot around the Mid-West anyway. What I do see are do-it-yourself conversions using gas motors and a few electric ones. Scooters with chainsaw motors and the like. Mad Max-like stuff. This tariff will only push that sort of thing further along in these parts.

Okay, Summer is winding down. What are you waiting for?! Get out and ride!

Thursday, August 09, 2018

The 24hrs of Cumming Report Part 4

My bike, right where I parked it Saturday night.
About 10:30pm Sam gave up his quest to ride the third leg. His gal Abby came and scooped him up while I was sleeping on the hardwood floor above the Cumming Bar. Sam said later that when he got back he tried waking me, but I was not moving, and he only checked to see if I was still breathing then he went down to celebrate his birthday.

Yes, at midnight it was Sam's birthday.

At 12:32 am Sunday my Fitbit watch rattled my wrist with a text notification. I cracked open my eyes and tried to read it, and it said, "Wake up we are drinking downstairs."

I was still in sleep mode, but I also knew that this was a special time to spend with Sam. I have never been around for one of his birthdays, so to pass up a chance to celebrate one with him would be rude. I got up, threw on my shoes, and slowly walked down the steep staircase to spend time with my friend.

It was about what you would imagine. Shots fired, beers drank, and some "Vegas" concoction that tasted like peaches. Then it was time to leave the bar and we went outside on the patio where the imbibing and conversations went on into the night. Sam, seemingly, had had enough and did the wise thing and went back upstairs to sleep.

Whatever the reason, I was wired. I don't know why, but I felt like I had drank a quart of coffee. My body was burning through calories and I guess I wan't feeling it like some of the other folks were around me. I fell into a long conversation with Stretch Wilson, the event volunteer I mentioned in an earlier chapter of this report. It was a great time getting to know him. I also chatted up Adam Blake of Gravel City Cyclery at about this time which was fun as well.

My Gent's Race teammate, Bob, at about Sunrise Sunday morning
I was standing around yakking when I felt someone was standing next to me and I turned and looked to see a Warren County Sheriff. Oh! Hello! Turns out he was just checking on the scene and he was very supportive of the event and what we were doing as long as we kept it "safe". Definitely! We were keeping it "safe".

Next thing I know someone said it was 4:30am and I figured I should try to go lay down, but the door to the stairwell had been locked. Hmm..... Okay, back to the patio!

There was no shortage of conversation. It seemed several folks were in this for the long haul, and I really wasn't tired. (Weird!) I spent a bit of time chatting up my Gent's Race teammate, Bob, who was running the music. He had been hooked on that old Chuck Mangione tune, the one we all knew with the flugle horn, and Bob  must have played that 50 times over the course of the weekend. So I asked him if his gadget had any other tunes on it. He said it did, so I started suggesting some different fare, which steered us out of Chuck Mangione ear worm territory, at least for a while!

Then someone woke up and fired up the grill to make some breakfast sandwiches, which were pretty tasty. I had one and then looked at Bob and noted that the sky was getting lighter. It was near dawn Sunday. Dang! I stayed up all night? Then we noted a big shelf cloud and then the wind came up. We battened down the hatches and then a little bit of rain fell. The first drops in a month.

I went upstairs after 6:00am sometime when the doors were unlocked again and slept an hour and a half or so until I heard Sam stirring. We broke camp and packed everything of ours into the Sprinter van, left Cumming behind, and said goodbye to the 24hrs of Cumming.

It wasn't the way I imagined it would go, but parts of it were really fun, and parts of it weren't. I learned that I wasn't recovered from the GTDRI, and earlier this week I was super sore and stiff. It will be an "easy week" this week getting rested up for Gravel Worlds next weekend.

Thanks: To Sam Auen and his gal Abby for putting up with me and having me as a guest in their home. To Steve Cannon for all the efforts in putting on the 24hrs of Cumming-thank you. To Stretch Wilson, the volunteer and anyone else responsible for the event-thank you. Thanks to Adam Blake/Gravel City for sponsoring the event and for the friendship- thanks! Thanks to Bob Moural for being the best teammate and for your hospitality. To the Cumming Tap for hosting- Thank you! To N.Y. Roll for loaning me the light and peanut butter sandwich- Thanks!

I'll post a BgP Black Mountain Cycles rig report later.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The 24hrs of Cumming Report Part 3

Barns for Jason- 24hrs of Cumming edition
So my part of the event started at about 3:00pm or so. Maybe a little after 3:00pm. I didn't get a solid time on my departure. being anxious to go, I even forgot to start my Lezyne GPS until a few clicks down the road. Anyway, I was gone and riding. I felt great, and the weather, for August, wasn't totally brutal. In fact, it actually felt nice out.

Then at about 5 miles in my phone started blowing up with messages. I decided I had better check, since Mrs. Guitar Ted and the family were traveling and perhaps there was an emergency. Nothing of the sort was happening, thankfully, but these were messages from Sam when he was still out riding! Ah crap..... "He probably thinks I hate him now", I thought, but what could I do? I kept riding.

Then I started seeing other riders. Kristi Mohn passed me and said hello. I saw a few other folks I knew and some I didn't know. Then I noticed it was really dusty. I had a tip off from one of the stellar volunteers, Stretch Wilson, that it was super dusty and that I should consider wearing something like a bandana. I actually had one and tied it around my neck at the start. That came in real handy all throughout my ride. It was loose enough not to be too hot or restrictive, and it did a bang up job of filtering out most of the gravel dust kicked up by cars we met on course. I'm glad I had it on hand.

If you squint real hard, that dot 100 yards up the road is Kristi Mohn disappearing in a cloud of dust kicked up by a passing vehicle. 
Stretch told me later that the area hadn't seen rain in four weeks, and you could tell. The dust was as bad as I've seen it. Despite a Southern breeze the dust would hang in the air like a fog and inbetween tree lined areas, in valleys, and on the narrower roads lined with corn it would have a "hang time" that was remarkable. I would come up on clouds of dust with no sign of a vehicle's passing anytime near my arrival.

Signs of how brutal nature and our impacts upon nature are were everywhere if you looked for it.
After this point I didn't see anyone for a long time. Then at about Mile 20 I hit a cue that was confusing. The road I was on hit a paved road at a "T" intersection. The cue sheet said "DANGER HIGHWAY" and there was no direction given. The next cue said the same mileage and to turn "R onto 100th Ave", but there wasn't a 100th Ave sign there. Hmm...... I sent a text to Sam that said, "Lost. Mile 18.5. Cues don't make sense. Came to R-63 and no direction given." So, okay...... I have to say that I am a cue sheet snob. I honed my craft at cue sheets for 14 years with Trans Iowa, and I and my helpers had it down to such a fine degree that they were declared flawless year after year. I know that Gravel World's has stellar cues, and so does the DK200. I have some pretty stout expectations. Maybe many riders don't, but this frustrated me. I wasn't happy.

Then I figured it out, to the best of my abilities, and turned right, heading for what I hoped was the next cue on to G-24. Curiously, at the same mileage as the corner, there was a cue that said, "Continue onto 98th Ave", all three cues at 18.5 miles. Yeah. That sucked. I messaged Sam back, "May have figured it out. Looks like I am going the right way." Then it was two miles up a busy paved road to a turn on to another paved road. What?!! I signed up for a gravel race. Meh! Another mile of pavement and I was back on gravel again.

Around this State Park were more Gold Finches than I've ever seen before.
About this time a fellow on a mountain bike caught me and passed me by. I was behind him for several miles and then he finally got away when I had to stop to switch out cue sheets. That was at a turn on to more pavement, by the way. It was short lived, however, and the ensuing right hander led to some steep rollers. I came across a super busy four lane highway that I had to wait at for a chance to cross safely for quite a few minutes. Then I passed through a riparian area where I saw so many Gold Finches it was astounding.

After passing that area I came up upon a turn to the left on the cues which said, "Slight Left onto Summerset Trail". Some counties call their gravel roads "trails" in their naming scheme and some people call paved bike paths trails. This was a turn on to an unmarked bicycle trail with a turn on gravel just beyond it which wasn't the same name. Okay, bike path it is, I guess. Another slightly annoying cue faux pas.

Moving on I came up on the halfway mark and I was trying to keep my mind on the game. I had been drinking and eating well enough up to that point, or so I thought. Some of the cue sheet madness really was throwing my mind off the game, and then around Mile 40 my legs said "no mas!" and I was in survival mode for about ten more miles. I finally pulled over for my first real stop at almost Mile 50.

Cool bike path. Bad that it was pavement since there was already a bunch on the route.
I laid down flat on my back in some shade I found which was given by some scrub trees and brush. I stretched out my back and tried to get my heart rate down. I had been working really hard trying to maintain a pace which would allow Sam a lot of time to get his next segment done.

However; the Guitar Ted Death Ride the week before had taken its toll on my legs, apparently, because they felt weak. Oh well. I wasn't moving forward, so I got up and then decided to just spin it out at whatever speed I could. Slow was moving. Stopped wasn't moving. Moving = good. So, I reset my goals to just get the job done.

I was getting a bit of pain in my feet, which isn't usual for me. I was riding in some socks that were new to me, and I had tightened up my shoes a bit earlier in the ride. I was going to need to address the shoe issue, but since I had just stopped I wanted to put in some more miles before I had to stop to fix that. So I continued until I came across a Level B road. Now I was thinking this would be another good opportunity to stretch out the back a bit more again, so I laid down flat. Then I heard a car coming! On a Level B? I mean, yeah.......cars and trucks come down these roads, but it is super rare, usually. I sat up, and the kind folks asked if I was okay. Then they left and another car comes right on its heels. Bah! Time to get going again. Mood ruined! I fixed my shoes though.

Barns for Jason- 24hrs of Cumming version

Then I started feeling better. I actually got my legs back and passed Mile 50 feeling stronger. I maybe was going to get this done in a decent time after all. I was following the cues well, the miles slowly ticked away, and all seemed okay for a bit. I noted that I was running low on water, but at this pace I should finish shortly after swallowing the last bit, so I looked to have it in the bag that way. It was getting on toward Sunset though, and I was wondering if I could beat the Sun.

Yep! More pavement! I bet there was somewhere between 5 and ten miles of it and we never went through a town.
Bonus part was that it was flatter in through this bit of the course, so my average speed picked up a tick. I figured I would need to alert Sam that I would be coming in soon, so I waited till Mile 53 to stop and  text him, "At 53 miles. Coming to ya."

That was at 7:55pm and Sam quipped back, "Dang. Awesome". 

For cars? Yes. Not for peds and cyclists.
 This exchange was found to be another miscommunication. See, I was pretty dang sure in my mind this was going to be my only loop. My legs, despite the slight comeback, were fried. Too much mileage too soon. These hills weren't going away, and loop #4 was said to be the worst. But I was focused on getting home and I had ten miles to go. Sam read that and thought it was infused with enthusiasm, but he was toasted too. Not wanting to douse my perceived joy in riding, he decided to pull on his kit and get ready to go out again.

See, had we actually had a "real" conversation, we both would have been telling each other , not only no, but hell no! We had a good laugh about it afterward, but I'll tell about that later.

From that point on the course started back into the rollers found South of Cumming. Then I got hungry. Then my mind started to go. It got dark. I turned on the lights I had, and my body was in a LOT of pain. With everything screaming at me to stop, it was hard to focus. I made a wrong turn and went four miles out of my way. My legs were done, no power. I got back on course, then after a couple more miles I couldn't find the next corner. I parked my bike and sat down in the ditch.

I probably would have cried at this point, but I was too dehydrated to do it. Anyway, I haven't hurt that bad in a long time. I finally decided that if I went West far enough I'd come across the Great Western Trail and hang a right and go back to Cumming. This night madness wasn't for me.

The last happy memory of my leg.
Well, there was another stop on the Great Western Trail to relax my body, an opossum in the middle of the trail that scared the crap out of me, and finally the elation of seeing the light at the end of the trail which was emanating from that little village of Cumming.

I pulled in. The timing and scoring guy nodded at me as if he "got my number", and that was all I needed. I walked directly back to the stairwell and pushed my bike up the stairs, got cleaned up, and went immediately to sleep. If you were there and saw me, I apologize for ignoring you. I was beat, tired, and in a lot of agony. Oh, and by the way, Sam was so anxious to get going he left ahead of my getting there!

Next: Part 4