Monday, August 01, 2011

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational 2011: Ride Report Pt 1

Well, as the post yesterday indicated, the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational was a success for 2011. It was a brutal ride, as it should be, but good times were had by all in attendance, it seems.

The event started out with me setting up the tent in Hickory Hills on Friday evening. Wasn't long before Courtney showed up and we ended up chatting for several hours until the sun had set and we both were feeling it was about time to "head for the shed" as the old Iowa farmers would say. Just about then, I noticed a bright LED light coming our way, and then Scott and Ken emerged from behind the blazing generator light on Ken's Curt Goodrich bike to greet us.

It wasn't long before we were all bedded down for the night in anticipation of our 6am start time. The night was pretty uneventful, and by 5am, I had already gotten up and was getting prepared for the day's ride, Courtney, Ken, and Scott soon followed suit. We rolled down to the start and found a few other riders awaiting us. By the time we were all assembled, there were 12 of us, including Robert who rode down from Waterloo to join us for the first leg of the ride. He would then have to ride back home to attend to some other obligations, but it was great having him along for the start.

(Reminder: Click on any photo to enlarge it)

Looking out from Hickory Hills at the onset of the GTDRI
A Range Of Emotions On The Rider's Faces At The Start

We got off to a decent start into a foggy, humid, coolish morning. The morning is a great time to be on a bike, and especially on a weekend. Not many people are out and about just after 6am, and watching the sunrise on our easterly depart was fantastic. Everyone immediately settled into a comfortable, if not slightly rapid pace. I figured we were all either a bit excited, nervous, or a combination of both, as we crunched the gravel underneath our tires.

It wasn't too long into the ride before we hit on our first little adventure. The county deemed a wooden bridge, a span of about 50 feet, unsafe for vehicular travel, and so had set up a road closed sign at the head of our second B Maintenance road. The first B Road was so good, smooth, and fast, I was hoping we'd not have to miss the respite from the chunky gravel, and I think the others were of the same mind, so on we went by, against the will of the sign and the authority behind it. (It wouldn't be the last time this happened on this day!)

Riding along and watching the sun rise.
Our "Scout" Sent Up The Road To Check On The Closure.
Turns out that the bridge was passable only if we scooted around the barriers set up on either end of the bridge. Don't make a false move! With only about a foot around the end of the barrier, a misstep could land you 20 feet down into the small creek! Fortunately, all bicycles and humans were unharmed in the passage.

Bridge crossing in the sunlit mist.
After this early bit of adventuring, we had a short jaunt into our first town, Traer. I like Traer as a stopping point, or a beginning point for rides. It has a decent convenience store, and sits in a centralized area for good gravel loops. We  descended upon the convenience store like a pack of ravenous wolves. I don't think the manager had quite seen the likes of this before. We cleaned out the hot breakfast sandwich display, much to the amazed chagrin of the young woman in the kitchen. Then we sat down outside, munched down our food, and re-filled water bottles, much to the seeming horror and slight disgust of the locals coming into and out of the place. Ha! It is always like this wherever I go with a group of gravel bandits.

Local Woman Enters Unscathed! (Nothing To Fear, Ma'am!)
After a nice stop here we took off for the southerly leg of the route, and Robert took his leave of us here to head back towards Waterloo. Down to 11 riders! It wasn't but a mile out of town when a call went up to halt. Adam, who had come in from Michigan, had lost his keys at the convenience store. Well, I decided we could wait until he had a chance to ride back and look for them. In the meantime, I told the gathered about the recent events in Tama County involving high winds, damaged farms, and broken trees. Doug provided some back ground here as well. I figured it would help pass the time away. After probably a half an hour, a dejected Adam came back keyless, and we soldiered on.

Stories Told- Waiting On Adam
Once we were back onward, the air had finally cleared. No more mist, no more fog. It had been so wet and drippy early on that when I hit a jarring pothole, or some other sharp hit, the dew collecting on me would be shaken loose in a wet, cool shower that ended up all over me. I told the guys we might be wishing for these conditions later in the day, but for now, clear skies and comfortable temperatures with little wind was a welcomed thing by all of us.

This signaled the start of another part of the day, which was pleasant. Probably the most chatty, laid back part of the ride. We took in some of the damaged countryside, and the earlier stories set in with those that were unfamiliar previous to the ride. It is still a heart wrenching scene in Clutier, and on many farmsteads in Tama County. Still, there were several highlights, like the steeply descending B Maintenance road north of Clutier, and lots of cool scenery from high atop some of the tallest hills in Tama County.

Next: Part II of the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational Report

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