Warning! Long, picture intensive post. Get yer favorite beverage and sit back....
What the GTDRI was:
Fun, long, hot, cold, hilly, dusty, fast, slow, beautiful, hilly, dangerous, long, and oh yeah........ did I mention it was hilly?
Some of the guys had GPS units and as far as we could tell, there was 9994 ft of climbing in 118 miles. And the first 25 miles were pretty flat! The roads ranged from some rare, perfect fast gravel, to the common marbley fresh gravel, to some B roads with some absolutely mountain-bikish rock gardens thrown in for good measure.
The event kicked off when Steve Fuller and I arrived at the primitive campground site at around 6pm. we set up tents and worked on getting a fire started. Awhile later, David Pals showed up with some real camp fire wood which we immediately put to use. Beers were had and even a taste of whiskey was had. We jabbered until the darkness pressed in around us as we were serenaded by V-8 engines screaming around the local dirt track not two miles away.
When the races ended, Craig Severson, my co-worker, showed up and we had some more beer. Steve and David did the smart thing and hit the hay, but Craig and I didn't get into sleep mode until 1am.
The morning kicked off for me as I was awoken by a pack of yippering coyotes down in the river valley. We all got up, preparing for the day, and getting water and calories in. As this went on, Jeremy Fry and Doug Eilderts showed up to round out our group of six fellows.
We were all chatting, and I had forgotten what time it was, so instead of going off at 6:30am, we didn't leave camp until 7am. Whoops! Well, the first four miles or so were rollers that ended in a monstrous downhill with a dogleg to the left. I was out front and flying with no brakes on. I hit the corner and the Fargo didn't want to turn on the loose gravel at all. I quickly found myself running out of room on the right side. Then the head tube started shaking and the whole bike was basically out of control. I was along for the ride at that point. I could tell the wheels were just skittering across the top of the gravel, and not really biting in. I held on tight as the bike got into a rutty secton, which I pretty much flew over. I yanked the handle bars a bit towards thae left and the Fargo took a different line where I felt comfortable to use the brakes to scrub off some speed. I got it back under control.
That was as close to the edge as I've been on a bike in a long, long time!
Doug Eilderts said the decline was 10% grade! No wonder we were all smoking our brakes! I thought that was pretty steep, but by the end of the day, a 10% grade was ho-hum stuff. We saw that on a regular basis all day long, with plenty of steeper stuff all the way up to an incredible 18% grade at one point. (And we were going up that!)
Other than that, and Jeremy falling over at one point, it was a pretty uneventful day of grinding out climbs, walking up hills, eating, drinking, flying down hills at blistering speeds, and just plain having fun.
Following are a bunch of the 75 photos I took from the day.
The Turkey River was our constant companion from Elgin to Elkader in the morning.
After a stop in Elgin, we were all still smiles as the road started to undulate a bit more. (L to R Doug Eilderts, Craig Severson, and Steve Fuller)
Steve Fuller cresting a hill at the highest point of the course east of Elkader. You could see for miles from up there!
David Pals replenishing his water supply in Garber, Iowa.
A view overlooking the Iowa countryside near Littleport, Iowa.
We saw a half a dozen of these signs and when you did, it wasn't a joke! Speeds in excess of 40mph were commonplace on downhills we came across all day long.
Of course, when you go down, you must go back up! Here we encounter one of the many over 10% grades we faced during the day.
The animals were frisky everywhere we went. Cattle would run alongside fences with us, herds were stampeding, and even the deer were running down the road in front of us at one point.
Strawberry Point is where we found a fellow barbequing hamburgers and hot dogs outside a local grocery store. We took full advantage of that and also rested and resupplied. (Pictured are L-R Craig Severson, Jeremy Fry, David Pals, and Doug Eilderts)
A view near St. Sebald Hill over looking the Volga River valley. I was surprised at the number of hilly areas I had strung together for this ride.
This one's fer you, Blue!! Jeremy Fry doing his "Fatty" imitation in a Wadena, Iowa convenience store.
At mile 100, I had the guys stop and we all did a celebratory pull off the flask of Stranahan's I carried just for the occaision. Here Steve Fuller takes his turn.
13 hours out on course, over 9 hours in the saddle, tons of hills, near misses by cars, and tons of gravel dust. We saw deer, turkey vultures, eagles, wild turkeys, and hawks. We even had an old, haggard looking shepard dog run with us a few miles. This picture is of the last big climb of the day at about mile 114.
My computer mileage for the day. We were all happy to get back to the camp. We had a couple beers, chatted about our experiences, wiped down with some awesome wipes Doug brought, (Thanks Bro!!) and then we all packed up and headed out.
I got home about ten o'clock, showered, and got into my bed. What a day! I think it was the toughest GTDRI yet, and it was most definitely fun. But I won't joke, I hurt today as I type this!
Thanks to : Steve Fuller, who made it possible for me to get there by giving me a ride up and back. Thanks to David Pals, Doug Eilderts, Jeremy Fry, and Craig Severson for coming along. It was a great group of guys and we all worked together perfectly. Thanks to all of you for making some awesome memories for me to cherish.
That's a wrap! Now on to this weekend's Fargo Adventure ride! (Excuse me, I have a very dusty Fargo to attend to now!)