Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Gravel Worlds 2017: Nebraska's 14'ers

Josh Lederman riding single speed. He would go on to finish.
One note before I get on with the story. In the scrum at the start, I thought I set my Lezyne Super GPS to record, but I must have not hit the button good enough, because about seven miles out I looked down and the dang thing wasn't recording any distance. "0.00" it read. BAH! The thing is, a wired or wireless computer records without any input but the wheel turning. WHY can't we figure it out on the GPS side folks? I mean, record all the damn things and let me decide later what to keep, instead of making me start a recording and then asking me later if I want to keep it. Ya know? Sheesh! How hard does this have to be?

So, I hatched a plan while riding. I determined approximately where ten miles would fall on course and hit the damn record button as I passed the spot. I was really close to being right, like two tenths off. So I did well to get it so I only had to add ten to whatever my read out was. But that still ticks me off. GPS computers are still a step backward in user interface compared to an old styled computer.

Okay, rant mode off. 

Checkpoints are always kind of interesting at these longer gravel events. Valparaiso was no different, but it wasn't really a checkpoint. It was a third of the way in and the first opportunity to resupply, so almost everyone was stopping. I saw a lot of folks there. The local Boy Scout Troop was selling water and eats outside, which was nice and convenient. A "den mother" and a small boy politely asked me if I needed anything and I had them fill my water up. They were very helpful.

Meanwhile I had found Tony who had been up ahead of me most of the ride so far. I had caught him coming in to Valparaiso, but he made it there ahead of me. I saw Janna Vavre, the first women finisher of a Trans Iowa, and she high fived me. I told her my toes were frozen, (and they really were!), but she scoffed and said it wasn't that cold! 

I ate and used the restroom and we were off in search of Nebraska's 14"ers. Not 14,000 footers, but 1,400 footers! There would be plenty and a few higher coming our way in the next section of the course.

A pretty smooth and fast MMR just after leaving Valparaiso gave us a taste of dirt.
Part of my way to get up climbs faster and without focusing on my misery is to watch the altimeter function on my Lezyne and try to guess how high it will end up reading. I saw several 1400 plus readings after Valparaiso, and the spectacular views affirmed that we were indeed up pretty high. Pro Tip: If you climb a hill and see a communication tower or water tower on the top, you can bet that elevation is some of the highest around.

We came across Josh Lederman, a sponsor and friend to Trans Iowa over the years, and he was toiling away on a single speed with some really skinny tires that he wasn't real impressed with. Still, he did get a finish, so it couldn't have been too bad! Josh was riding strong and we didn't easily leave him behind.

You could see a looooong ways from up there! The perfect conditions only enhanced the view.
I kept seeing the elevation creep up. The highest I observed while riding was 1452 feet, but after analyzing my data afterward I saw that 1551 feet was the max. You know, Iowa's highest point is only about 100 foot higher! So, it was fun hunting Nebraska's 14"ers on the Gravel Worlds course. It kept my mind off things and we were cruising fast! This course was tough, but with little wind, it wasn't as hard as it could have been, and it wasn't super hot. Not yet...... That would come later! 

Not sure what the purpose of this building is/was, but it said "District 73" on the sign. I believe it did, anyway!
A farmer making wind rows the old fashioned way just North of Malcom.
The big hills wouldn't last though, and we were heading down a bit towards Malcom. That quaint little village that is my friend, MG's, home town and the place where the Malcom General Store is. I was looking forward to eating more and getting a Coke here. Back in Valparaiso I bought a sack of gummy bears to keep me alert when the sleepies hit me, and two at a time when I needed them was working well for me. The Coke I was hoping would be a shot in the arm to keep me awake as well.

While not a checkpoint, Malcom was a busy place while we were there.
We parked ourselves across from the General Store by the Post Office, and we munched food and took a well deserved rest. Dan Buettner was there and chatted for a bit. He has a great looking Rohloff equipped Soulcraft in red that is just a sweet ride. Anyway, we hung out for a bit and then headed out for the short-ish ride to get to the first "real" checkpoint, The Reinkordt Farm. It was getting warmer out by now, and I was feeling the effort, but still doing well. Getting to the farm shouldn't be too tough, I thought.......

Next: The Nut Gets Turned

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