Monday, April 07, 2014

Renegade Gent's Race Version 4 Report

Hunting Unicorns (Image by S. Auen)
The fourth annual Renegade Gent's Race happened Saturday. It was a great day for a ride, and this is the story of that ride. It started for me in the cold dark of night.

The Gents Race is always looked forward to by myself and probably others. For me it is really not so much of a race as it is a great bike ride with loads of like-minded folks and four great guys I have come to know as teammates for this event. Our team is pretty unique, and in our four years together, we have forged some traditions which we all adhere to and have fun with.

But before all that can happen I have to get down to Kyles Bikes in Ankeny and meet up with those four guys. That meant getting up at 4:30am and packing up the "Truck With No Name" to get me and my bike there. The day was looking like it would be good, but at 27°F it was chilly! The drive down was uneventful, and I arrived at 7:30am to get kitted up and see who was out and about. Our team was not scheduled to go off until 9:08am. Sign in was a half an hour earlier than that, so I was plenty early.

It was a perfect day to ride bicycles!
I was a bit concerned at first because the cold air was a bit beyond the scope of my gear at that moment, but I held on to the hope that temperatures would climb quickly once the Sun mounted up and that I would be fine. My teammates arrived one by one and after pleasantries we motored over to the start, which was about a five minute ride from the bicycle shop.

We got the traditional "Team Photo" on my camera, and then we started out. The course runs a couple miles on pavement until we reached the outskirts of suburbia and escaped to the sandy gravel that is characteristic of this part of Iowa. On the way there, something rather ironic happened concerning my camera. You know the one I just wrote a post about last week? Yeah.......that camera!

I was grabbing it out of my left pocket, (not my usual way of toting it, by the way), and I lost the handle on it. I watched as it tumbled down and smacked the pavement. Of course, I am doing about 20mph at this point, so the camera is out of my view for a few seconds while I slow down and swing back to pick it up. I grabbed it and hurriedly caught back on to my team. After I calmed down a bit, I tried it, but.......nothing. So, I figured I finally killed it. Oh well. Sam offered to stow it in his frame bag and we continued on our adventure.

Unicorn Avenue rest stop. (Image by S. Auen)
The Gent's Race course hasn't changed a whole lot in the last three years. (The first course was totally different) It is flat, sandy, usually unconsolidated, and reminds me a lot of Nebraska gravel around Lincoln. If the road crews have been out, there can be a lot of chunk, but they hadn't been out yet this year, and the rains we had last week help pack down the gravel to a much more solid consistency. In other words, conditions of the roads could not have been better.

The flatness of the course is perfect for the format, as it tends to keep the groups of five together, and your only real issue is going to be wind and weather in this event. On both counts, things could not have been much better. Sure, there was a mild Southwesterly breeze, but considering the time of year, it could just as easily have been a gale. Again, things were about as good as it gets. The Sun was out, and spirits were high. Those that wanted to get after it did, and those that had other agendas, (like my team), did what came natural to them and had a lot of fun.

F.U.N. Incorporated
Our team has certain things we have done every year, and we stick to those "traditions". Like stopping at Unicorn Avenue for images. Or having Four Lokos at the halfway checkpoint along with Budweisers. is about fun and camaraderie for us on our team. We also don't get our panties in a bunch about anything, and try to tailor our pace to the slowest guy in the group that particular year.

In the end, we got in 67 miles of great riding and fun times. I cleaned up a bit afterward and headed over to the local bar/eatery that was hosting the after-ride party. There were a ton of cyclists there, and I found my good friend MG along with Trans Iowa finisher Tim Ek, Dirty Kanza directors Jim Cummins and LeLan Dains, and many others there. I sat and had a couple IPA's and then MG and I went out and swapped over my wheel set on my Tamland so he could take the American Classic wheels out and test them.

 What makes this event so special is how it can attract well over 200 people of all social strata together in harmony and with as much "inclusion" as I think there could be. No race numbers, no fee to enter. Just line up your bike with four others and go. As an example of this, as MG and I were wrenching on the Tamland and chatting, a lovely woman came up and started talking about her experience in the event and wanted to know what we thought. We were all on the same page- it was an awesome fun time. She was so stoked to have been on a great ride having a great time with four other women that she invited us for a group hug and then she sauntered off. That to me is a testament to the attractiveness of these sorts of events for the average cyclists out there.

Oh, and my camera- Sam handed it back to me afterward, and he said that I had lost the battery. What?! was gone. It must have popped out of the battery door and then the door somehow closed up again in the tumbling on the pavement. Maybe it will live on!

Afterward I made the trek home to go see my family with sore legs and a smile on my face. Thanks to the Renegade Gent's Race crew- Rob Versteegh, Kyle Sedore, and Kyle's Bikes along with all the volunteers. Thanks to my "Careless Whispers" teammates- Bob Moural, David Cornelison, Sam Auen, and Steve Fuller.


MG said...

Amen Brother... That was an incredible day with 200+ awesome people. I love the Renegade Gents Race!

One Eyed z said...

It was a great day on the gravel!

Kate Geisen said...

That sounds a lot like my adventure racing team functions. One of the best ways to have a good time is racing (or "racing") with fun, like-minded people. :)