Monday, August 21, 2017

Gravel Worlds 2017: Wacky Lodgings

Gear pile ready to load out and go.
Well, I had a plan, but it fell apart in the end. How did I get there? Well, first of all, I had to get there. You know, to Lincoln, Nebraska to ride in Gravel Worlds.

My friend Tony and I had planned on going to this for months. I had tweaked and trained and tried to refine my ideas for this year's ride. I felt really confident in how it was all going to result in a finish again at the Fallbrook area of North Lincoln.

I decided to take the Tamland. Last year I had been dealing with a damaged rotator cuff injury incurred when I body slammed myself on a slick patch of ice. Pretty much the only thing I could stand riding for hours was my Fargo Gen I with the discontinued Luxy Bar. But this year the shoulder has shown a lot of improvement and riding a different, lighter bike was a real possibility. I got some Ritchey Venturemax bars to try out so I decided to use them. The bike was also kitted out with the Redshift Sports ShockStop Stem and Cirrus Cycles Body Float titanium post. Besides that I had the Gevenalle HYDRAULIC system which utilizes the hydraulic brakes by TRP. The bike rode like a Cadillac, worked perfectly, and oh by the way, I used the WTB Resolute tires which were perfect. So, my rig was dialed. You'll hear more about that as the report goes along. Also- my shoulder did not bother me one iota. Bonus!

Anyway, the host hotel for Gravel Worlds changed hands over the course of the last year. It had been a Holiday Inn, but it was now called "The Graduate". I thought the Holiday Inn was more than adequate for our needs, so this change was met with some skepticism by myself. However; I was not prepared for what we found when we walked into the lobby and when we saw the room. It wasn't worse, it may have been better, but it was certainly weird. 

It was supposedly a take on college dormitory life but it came off as a Vegas stunt.
 Now, you'll have to forgive me this indulgence in to a description of a motel, but this was so odd, it bears a paragraph or two. First I will admit to not being all that well traveled. That said, I've stayed in many motel/hotel rooms in my day and I have been to Las Vegas numerous times. So, with that said.....

Motels and hotels are usually somewhat similar. There are basic, no frills places all the way up to the hoity-toity joints with saunas and what not. I've seen all that plus the crazy theme motel/hotel stuff in Vegas. The Graduate is a college life/dormitory based theme motel, which, on the surface of it, makes sense since it is within sight of the University of Nebraska's stadium. I'm sure Husker football weekends pack the place out. But college buildings and dormitories would never pass for a hotel experience. Those of you that have been to college know that.

So, the place was trying to be a kitschy, campy take on college life with upscale amenities. It was extremely well done. No detail was too fine for the remodel. Tony and I were constantly amazed by the details which ranged from relic'ed doors, mirrors, and picture frames which looked as though they might have been dinged, handled, and worn over 60 years of use. Heck, even the lobby's brick walls were painted white with faux chips and flaking! Anyway, it ain't cheap to stay there but the staff was exemplary and the experience is like going to a Vegas theme hotel without the Vegas part.

A Cosmic Stallion in the flesh!
Once we had everything settled in at the hotel we scurried off to Cycle Works to get checked in and join in on the "gravel family reunion" and cycle expo which always takes place there. Once again, I saw so many people that I really like and don't get to see often enough. Warren Wiebe gave me an Iowa atlas to enable my future route findings and that was well appreciated. I got a great hug from Matt Wills, saw MG, and even met some folks again from years ago that I met at other events. Good times!

But all good times must come to an end and we needed to eat and then head for The Graduate to try to sleep a bit before the alarm went off at 4am. It was not a good night of sleep for me. I tossed and turned most of the night and basically only ended up getting a few hours of quality sleep. Oh well! I still felt confident of a finish despite a poor night's sleep.

Next: Beautiful Sunrise

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