Monday, July 30, 2018

GTDRI '18: Report Part 1

That's me doing my beast "I'm dead" imitation.
The 13th Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational was, in a word, excellent. Maybe the best one ever. I'm going to take a couple days to cover this one, so settle in....

Friday afternoon I was hearing that the weather forecast had been changed again. Now almost all hints of rain had been removed and the temperature was only to be into the mid-70's. Winds were to be mere breaths. It would be highly unusual for all three of these things to happen in late July. But it looked as though it would.

I blame this for the six confirmations on attendance for the ride which I received on Friday afternoon and into the evening. Poor weather, or heck, even typical July hot and humid would have checked the numbers on the ride to "normal" or less. As it was, it looked like we were going to have a largish group.

My plan was to get to sleep before ten o'clock, but a late family dinner out and then an emergency run to pick up some things for the gals of the house made it so I did not get to bed until 10:30pm. My alarm clock was set for 4:00am. It was going to be an okay night of sleep, but not the long, luxurious sleep I was hoping for.

Fortunately, I did do some things right like bulk up on water the previous three days and eat better. That was felt on Saturday, but the sleep thing was worrying me Friday night. Oh well! Like I said, I did some things right. One other thing I hadn't done right was to get in longer rides previous to this. My longest ride to date had been maybe 50-ish miles. Once. That wasn't necessarily good.

The setting full Moon was spectacular on Saturday morning.
So, the alarm went off and after three trips back to the house for things I almost forgot, I was off. It was super humid! I could hardly see a thing out the truck windows for a time. But that said, it was cool. In the upper 50's. That warm blanket of humidity kept the vest I was packing in the bag though.

I arrived at the furthest away parking lot I specified to use and no one else was around. That changed in a hurry when a couple of guys showed up, and then we got geared up and slowly tooled over to the Ambient Ales address. Along the way we passed the other lot I specified to use and there were a lot of cyclists there. Then we got down to the start and there were even more! Just before we took off a couple more winged it into the street's parking slots and we ended up having something like 20 guys take the start.

Just a part of the group at the first stop of the ride in the first section of Level B Road.
We had MG from Lincoln, Kyle and Charlie from Cedar Rapids, Rick and Dan from Des Moines, and Steve from Charles City. We had quite a few from the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, and an old co-worker, Craig, and his friend from Ames. Jeremy caught us later, as did Travis, who is from Wisconsin, I believe.  I ended up figuring we had about 25 people, all told. That's a tie for the record at a GTDRI, I'm pretty sure.

Well, with all the folks we didn't get rolling until close to 6:30am, but it was okay. The group, remarkably, was sticking together. I was a bit surprised, to be honest. I figured that with so many people of varying abilities I would be having stragglers, but we didn't. Well, unless you count me, but that will come later......

I was riding up front with my friends MG and Tony amongst others. It was awesome to ride with MG again. It had been far too long. We were having fun and I suggested we stop in the first Level B to allow for a nature break. I was amazed at the turnout. Everyone seemed to be getting on and having a good time too. Plus, the weather was spectacular. No wind, Sun, but cool, and it just seemed perfect for riding. Many remarked throughout the ride about the weather, so it wasn't just me.

MG (L) and Kyle Platts lead a long group of cyclists through another Level B Road section.
The opening miles of the GTDRI course were flattish, not too difficult, and sprinkled with several flatter Level B Roads. We rode on one from T.I.v4, and then past Dysart at about Mile 25. Then the course went South and we took in that same dirt road which led to the artifacts on that old farmstead that mystified us the previous year. Here we stopped again.

I gave a little history on the place aided by Tony, who knew the folks that maintained the yard there. Then after a bit of picture taking, munching on vittles, and drinking of water, we were off again. The route now bore more Westward and skirted the Iowa version of the "Bohemian Alps", a hilly area South of Traer and East of Toledo.

By this point into the ride we were getting into the 40 mile mark and I was looking forward to getting to Traer to resupply on food and water. Then I realized that it was only 9:30am! We were burning up the road at a high pace and still the group was sticking together. I was doubly shocked. I figured this pace was not good, and I started pointing out that we needn't be in such a big hurry to finish. The whole point was to ride all day. Not "get done early". I mean, why not enjoy the scenery? It is kind of the point with courses I devise.

While wildflowers weren't as prevalent as in years past, this ditch did not disappoint.
The miles ticked away and by this point in the ride a couple of other things were evident. One was that the Sun had been out a while and it was getting hot. Not unbearably hot, but if we stopped, with no wind, it seemed really hot. The minute we'd get going again the "manufactured breeze" would chill me down again. Secondly, it was very dusty! I noted clouds of dust off our wheels and unless you were up front you were breathing in that crap. I ended up with some pretty agitated nasal passages after the ride. Thirdly- the Level B roads were a big hit with the riders!

Back in the pack it was rather dusty, as evidenced from this shot in a Level B Road just North of Clutier.
The ride was sticking together and we were rolling into Traer around a little past ten in the morning. We raided the convenience store there and then took our leisure for a while. I was in no hurry to get rolling again. One reason was that I knew what lay ahead. Besides preaching the "we don't have to be in such a hurry" line, I was telling the group that the next 27 miles were the worst for hills in the ride. Basically, the entire section to Garwin was difficult and there were no real easy parts. Conserving energy would help preserve ourselves for what lay ahead. Now I was to be helped in this area by a couple of unexpected happenings, but I didn't know that in Traer.

Stay tuned for Part Two of the 2018 GTDRI Report tomorrow.......

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