Monday, September 19, 2016

Geezer Ride- Fall '16 Report

Just getting started- Dennis and Eric positively glow in the morning Sun.
The Geezer Ride for Fall is in the books and was an unqualified success, as far as I am concerned. What a perfect day, for starters, and the group we assembled this time was another very good, amiable bunch of folks. Seven of us in all, and that helped us put in maybe the fastest Geezer Ride ever.

So, I woke up at 5:30am and started to get ready. I had to run over to the convenience store to pick up some goodies for the mid-ride oasis stop and then get into my garb for the day. I decided to ride over to the start which adds about 15 miles to the total for the day's riding for me. I was riding the Pofahl single speed, of course, and I never did get the duist cleaned off it from last year. Oh well!

I arrived about ten minutes before the start, and a few folks were there milling about. I saw Dennis from Grinnell, Eric, who is a local, and Tony's truck was there but he was off talking to Ross, a first timer, and they were over under the shelter house. I went to use the public restroom and when I came out, I saw Robert, a regular on the 3GR rides, come in right at 8:00am. I said we'd start at "8:00-ish", and so we would. I was a bit puzzled that Lauren hadn't shown up. She is a co-worker of mine who was rather excited to try out gravel riding. She even took the day off work to be there, but by about 8:10, I hadn't seen her, so we set off. Six riders spun off towards the Sun-splashed horizon.

The bike path around Big Woods Lake is a really nice one. This made up the beginning and end of the route. 
Barns for Jason
We were doing fine on the opening miles of gravel. Everyone seemed composed and the pace wasn't outrageous. I rode back with Dennis, Eric, and Ross while Robert and Tony, regular gravel riders those two, went on ahead. We turned North on Ford Road and the day was just fantastic. Clear blue skies, bright Sun, and the gravel was actually really good. Tony remarked that it was "about as good as it gets in Iowa", and I would not disagree with him on that point.

So, we reached our first church and turned East on Bennington Road. I went on ahead here, and when I looked back after about a quarter mile, I noted that we were missing two riders! I stopped and turned around to see two figures on bicycles back at the intersection waiting. Maybe there was a flat tire? We pulled alongside the road and waited to see what the matter was.

(L-R) Lauren, Robert, and Dennis. Now we were seven!
After several minutes, I saw wait! THREE riders coming down the hill! What the.....!!? I waited in anticipation and when I could discern the riders well enough I saw that one of them was Lauren! Her husband was to drop her off and they were a bit later than we waited for. Lauren decided that they should try to track us down as far as Ford Road and if they did not catch us she would abandon the ride. Fortunately, we were still near the intersection with Bennington when they caught sight of us. So we were seven!

Tony heading East on Gresham Road.
Detail of St. Johns Church at the corner of Burton Avenue and Gresham Road.
Taking a quick break.
I got a chance to ride with Lauren a bit through the next section as the ride turned Northward and then back East on Gresham Road. Here the flatness we had before turned into long, gentle rollers. The wind was a quartering tailwind at this point, but it wasn't too strong, so things remained pretty tranquil. Finally, we saw the steeple of the St. Johns church on the horizon and when we reached the top of the hill, we all pulled over for our first extended break of the day.

The plan I had was that about at this point into the ride I would call Mrs. Guitar Ted to come out and meet us at the ride's halfway point with water and some goodies. I placed the call, no answer, then to the house phone, no answer, and so I left a text. Bummer! I was hoping that everyone had enough to get by on, because I was pretty sure we weren't going to get our resupply as I had hoped. Just when I was trying to figure out how to break the news, I got a text message. It was Mrs. Guitar Ted. We were back in business!

With that bit of good news, we headed off North a mile to see the old East Janesville Church and then we went East again on Marquis Road to our meeting spot three miles east of Highway 63. I kept looking over my shoulder to hopefully get a glimpse of the Highlander with Mrs. Guitar Ted driving, but I didn't. We reached the corner, with Robert, Ross, Tony, and Eric way ahead of the rest of us, and they kept going straight! Dennis took off to flag them down, and Lauren and I waited at the corner. Pretty soon, I saw the Highlander coming. Everything worked out just right after all!

(L-R) Lauren, Mrs. Guitar Ted, and Eric enjoy the morning Sun at our oasis stop.
"Hero Gravel" on Crane Creek Road
We had bananas, water, and chocolate chip cookies. We chatted and laughed a bit. Then we headed off South  and Mrs. Guitar Ted headed back home. The weather had turned warm, maybe a tic to the hot side, but the early morning humidity had given way to a dry, Northwesterly and it was tailwind time as we went South on Schenk Road to Bennington Road where we turned East and were flying along. I barely had to pedal and I was doing 20mph!

We reached Crane Creek Road and by this time I was noticing the puffy white clouds starting to stack up in the sky. The wind was brisk now and as we were on our most Easterly bit, I knew it would be soon time to "pay the piper", as it were. I made mention of this to my riding companions, but I tempered it with the fact we would be making a couple more stops and that would break things up nicely.

We passed this fine looking pumpkin patch just off of the corner of Crane Creek Road and Mt. Vernon Road.
The next church, St. Johns Lutheran, was just ahead on the left here.
Robert Fry takes in the historical plaque placed outside the Bennington Schoolhouse.
We pushed along against the wind and as a group, I was rather impressed that we all stayed together for the most part. In fact, at no time did we have to wait on slower riders for any length of time. No one complained and everyone seemed to be in great spirits despite pushing against that wind.

The Hope United Methodist Church on the corner of Sage Road and Mt. Vernon Road was another brief respite, then we went on another mile to visit the Bennington Schoolhouse, a restored Iowa one room schoolhouse dating from the early 20th Century. It saw its last students during the 1954-1955 school year, and then was decommissioned. Then began a slow fall into disrepair and at one point, it became a storehouse for a local farmers hay! In 1997 locals took up the challenge of restoring it to its former state and it is well kept right up to this very day. We could see evidence of fresh paint. That's a nice thing to have as a reminder of the Iowa education system as it once was back in the day.

We lingered here for quite a while and several of us made good use of the corn fields behind the schoolhouse. Then we made our way toward Moline Road on Bennington Road again, then South to Mt. Vernon, and our final push to the finish. We had one more rest stop at Mt. Vernon Cemetery, then up some long, grinder hills toward Strymon Road.

Barns for Jason
Eric, Lauren, and Dennis cresting the hill at Streeter Road on Mt. Vernon Road. Ross is just out of the frame here.
Ross cresting the last big hill of the day
It was a pretty remarkable ride from the standpoint of having three rookie gravel riders on the ride. They did absolutely great, and the entire group was brilliant in that we were able to get the 42 mile ride completed by 1:30pm which was about two hours sooner than I had expected that we would be done by.

Once back in Cedar Falls, most of us went to Single Speed Brewery and had some locally brewed beers to celebrate the day. Everyone reported having a good time and I was quite chuffed by that and the fact that the three rookies all said that they would be looking to do more gravel rides in the future. Not racing, not ultra-endurance craziness, but just riding on gravel for the fun of it. That's the goal with the Geezer Ride- to get folks interested in gravel riding. So, to have three new fans is really quite a good thing from the standpoint of this format, which is pretty under the radar.

As far as the Geezer Ride format goes, that's it for 2016. I'll probably do a Spring and Fall ride next year, so keep an eye out for that if you are at all interested. I generally like to move this around some, so if anyone out there in Iowa, or somewhere reasonable for me to get to, wants me to come out and help put on one of these, let me know.


Unknown said...

GT,loved seeing those farms! Great photos.Looks like a fun ride.


blooddoc23 said...

So fun!! And I can tell Mrs GT is pretty cool!!

Unknown said...

I had a blast...thanks again! What a great group to ride with.

MICHAEL said...

As an inaugural member of this ride a few moons ago, I can attest that it is a good time and every Geezer Ride is unique. Thanks for the great idea, GT !