|Riders gathering at the start.|
We got up at 4:00am only to find out that the hotel's breakfast for the riders didn't start until 4:30am. That seems like it is cutting things close, but at least they had the basics for food and I got a decent breakfast of eggs, potatoes, and a little bacon. A cup of coffee topped it all off and I was hoping to have a "morning constitutional", but it never happened. Bad sign number one right there......
So we piled in to Tony's truck, which we drove to the start and parked in the "VIP" lot, thanks to the kindness of Cornbread who helped check us in the night before. That meant we were a very short bike ride from the start. The parking lot was jammed with vehicles of the "Bike Nerd Tribe". You can easily spy these tribal members by the folding bike rack, or on occasion, the roof rack. The vehicle also must have bicycle company related stickers and/or event stickers on the back. True dedication to the sport of cycling is shown by such vehicular manifestations. (I joke, of course, but check it out sometime. Many of us do drive cars like this!)
|Tony attends to final details just prior to the start of Gravel Worlds. He went on to have a nice finish.|
|It's never really totally dark at the start, if the sky is clear, at Gravel Worlds. This year the sky was clear as could be.|
|A spectacular Sunrise greeted the riders of Gravel Worlds.|
|I processed this in Photoscape to allow you to see the condition of the gravel. Note the washboard.|
It is sandier gravel. There is a hardpack base, which when exposed looks like an aggregate that you sometimes see in concrete or blacktop roads. It was harder, but it wasn't always "there". Most of the time it was like riding on coarse sand/dirt with a lot of "ripples" or washboard, as we call it in the Mid-West. Get into that washboard and your bicycle starts bucking and pitching you into an uncontrollable mess. Not to mention the jarring sensations to every part of your body. Out of the washboard was generally deeper, looser sand/gravel which would suck the life out of your legs and cause your bike to wash out. Much of the course was like the image above.
|Barns for Jason- Gravel Worlds Version|
I was a bit amused by a section where the County had closed the road, (but the signs were pushed aside. For us?), and there was a load of what the Nebraskans were calling "white rock", or in Iowan's reckoning, "just plain gravel". It is vastly different than Nebraska gravel though and this short patch, which was about four inches deep in fresh gravel, had folks dismounting to walk through it. I rode right on by. Of course, I knew how my bike would handle it and I knew I could do that.
Then the hills rolled on, we went Eastward a fair bit, and the elevation gain was piling up. My altimeter was grinding upwards toward 1350 feet many times through here. I know you mountain folks scoff, but Gravel Worlds had 11.000 feet of elevation gain, so it ain't no joke. Nebraska is definitely not flat!
|Valparaiso Nebraska at about 50 miles in.|
Next: Nebraska's 14'ers.