Tuesday, July 31, 2018

GTDRI '18: Report Part 2

Convenience store takeover in Traer, Iowa. We've used this store a lot in Trans Iowas.
This is the second, and final, part of my Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational report for 2018.

The riders were all outside now at the Traer convenience store, a spot we've been to before on this ride. It has also featured in at least four Trans Iowa events. So, it is a place some of us on the ride were familiar with. However; I figured that we'd been there long enough, even though it was only approaching eleven o'clock in the morning!

With a bit of a foreshadowing of the coming 27 miles to the gathered riders I eventually led us out of town up to Ridge Road and then South on "O" Avenue. In total, there would be four miles of Level B Roads on "O" Avenue, three of those miles being consecutive. These dirt roads were where we had come upon a Road Closed sign last year as the County was grading that section of dirt again. However; once we reached this section this year, it was clear that nothing had been done to those roads since that time. It was, once more, gloriously primitive.

More miles of Tama County dirt
So this stretch of dirt eventually comes out on a mile of very rolling gravel before turning West. We had gotten pretty strung out on the Level B section, so the riders stopped at the end of the dirt. As I was rolling up, Charlie, on a Cutthroat, called out that his Maxxis Ikon was going flat. It was a tubeless tire, and the sealant was mostly spewed out before it would seal up. Fortunately, Craig had some extra sealant, so the guys got to work on that.

Steve's blown out tube.
Just then, a loud "bang!" was heard. Steve was standing over his bike when his tire blew off the rim. It was a tubed tire, and with his spare tube he got to work fixing it. I didn't lend a hand, declaring to the group that I was off duty. That brought a round of chuckles.

With the repairs going on we had time to relax again. It was probably for the best, as we still were in a high pace mode after Traer. I knew that this wasn't going to be sustainable. I was a bit flummoxed too since I was doing a steady 12-13mph pace and getting dropped. You'd think it was a race or something......

But the big hills that were coming would take care of that, eventually. That and the miles. Our pace eventually did slow down some, but this was a group that was strong and eventually I was the slowpoke. Anyway, at this point I was still feeling pretty decent. Concerned, but decent. There were some monsters to overcome soon and then another wrench was thrown into the mix.

The bike I was using was a test bike for RidingGravel.com. It was equipped with a SRAM Apex 1 1X set up. I found out after we got rolling again, on a climb of N Avenue, that the three lowest gears were a no-go on the bike. I tried adjusting the cable, which seemed to clear it up, but between that and dismounting so a car could pass, well, that put me way off the back. Then having to huff it without the lowest gear, which I am sure wasn't low enough, was taxing. The guys were waiting at the top of another hill to let us stragglers catch on. That was nice.

One of my favorite Level B roads in Iowa, "II" Avenue in Tama County.
Then we had to skirt Highway 63 for a quarter mile, then cross over to the West. I was concerned a bit with such a large group that we would be safe. The sight line for cars coming from the South was okay, but still. I waited as a watchman to warn of any traffic coming from behind. Most of the group got across, but I had to stop the last few riders to allow for more cars which were almost upon us. Then we had to wait several minutes for another clear shot. Once that happened I made everyone go ahead of me and then I crossed last.

Obviously, this put me waaaaay off the back! Then the climb of "II" Avenue took forever, once again owing to the balky drivetrain I had to use. Craig and a buddy or two of his were waiting up near the climb for me. Craig rode it up with me and we traversed "II" together and found the group waiting at the end of that section of road.

Then it was onward to I Avenue. Probably the most "un-road" road we've ever used in a GTDRI. It deserves its own post, really, but here are some images:

Beginning of I Avenue
Middle of I Avenue- Image by Kyle Platts
End of I Avenue
If there weren't signs there, you'd never know this was a public road! But even though that seemed to be the highlight of the course, it maybe had its rival for the best thing of the day waiting a few miles up the road for us in Garwin. What happened next was totally unplanned! 

Residents of Garwin and GTDRI riders enjoying a little "potato water".
 When we pulled into Garwin I was still at the back and I figured on seeing a big crowd of cyclists at the Pronto convenience store, but there was no one there! One of my fellow companions shouted, "They are up there!", and pointed towards the run down, half deserted downtown of Garwin. Now, what in the world was going on! As I approached I could see what appeared to be lemonade and a lemonade stand with folks from my ride and a lot of other folks who appeared to be residents of the village.

There was a lot of chatter going on and someone asked if I'd like a little "potato water". Uh......sure, why not! I took one sip and the lights came on. It was lemonade laced with vodka. A kindly woman's voice with a distinct UK accent then asked if I would get onto the boulevard portion and out of the street. I then noted that the locals got a little tense when a car went by, as if, well......they were up to something. Well, they had a spoof of a bicycle race, ironically, which seemed to have been sponsored by the Garwin Bull Tap, and the lady with the UK accent? She was the bar owner and from Southern Wales, actually.

Apparently a couple of the GTDRI riders went into the bar and relieved them of a couple of PBR's, then they rejoined us and after a few refreshing "potato waters", we actually did go to the Pronto and resupplied and then a bunch of us had some tall boys right out in the parking lot.

Don't pass this chance up!
One might get the feeling that the rules of law are a little lax in being enforced in these parts. You'd be quite right, but then again- don't cross the locals. It's all fun and games until they feel slighted and it's best to play along and enjoy the scene, as much as one can. There are a lot of places like this in the rural areas of this country. Sometimes it is nice to visit them......

Anyway, they seemed to like us, so we were "in" and we had a great time there. Then the time was wasting away, and I figured we'd better get a move on, so I rustled up the rabble, such as they were, and the Guitar Ted Death Ride rode out of town in a cloud of dust Northward.

I actually felt pretty dang good for about.....five miles. Then I went to being really tired. Well, I wasn't bummed about that, because this had been- by far- the furthest I had ridden in one shot in a long, long time. Not how I planned the year to go, but there it is. So, I soldiered on and just took it easier. Obviously, everyone was well up the road on me and at the end of G Avenue's Level B, they were waiting on me. Then Jeremy Fry came back to escort me and we rode out the remaining miles. The Level B's of 190th being the last of the ride, then it was up the bastard hills on K Avenue to Ridge Road.

I've climbed K Avenue to Ridge Road a lot in the last, oh...12 years or so. But it sure doesn't help when your bicycle loses its three lowest gears and then you have to huff it, single speed style, in a too-high a gear. That about knocked me out right there and resulted in the opening image from yesterday's post!

Whew! I made it! Image by Jeremy Fry
So, I wandered in with a few others at the tail end of the ride, exhausted, and glad to be done. Before we finished I heard many thank you's and compliments on the route. The Level B heavy course was a lot of fun, and since conditions couldn't have been much better, it was an obvious home run of a day.

I changed out to a fresh t-shirt and hit Ambient Ales to a loud round of applause from those present. N.Y. Roll bought me my first beer, and I had a nice sit down with a few of the riders and Tony and MG were there as well. Ambient Ales is the new brew pub in Reinbeck, but they haven't quite got their feet under them yet, so they sell other Iowa craft beers and some other brands at present. We availed ourselves of the excellent Topling Goliath offerings there. I ended my time with a selection from Evil Twin Brewing, the Imperial style Biscotti something or another, and then made my way back home.

That's the final chapter in the report on the 13th Annual Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. Tomorrow I will wrap up things with my final thoughts on the weekend, a quick look at gear, and some thoughts for the future of this ride.


Rydn9ers said...

Sounds like it was a great time, sorry I missed it.

Tyler Loewens said...

Bummed that your drivetrain wasn't working right! Ever get it figured out after the ride was done?

How'd the bike feel otherwise? Was the fork a benefit over something like a Lauf?

Guitar Ted said...

@Rob E- Missed seeing you as well. I'll be down for Gravel worlds though. Hope to see you there!

@Tyler Loewens- Not figured out yet. I've had to pay attention to some other stuff here, but I will update if I do get it figured out. The Fox AX is stiffer laterally and doesn't allow each leg to act independently, which a Lauf does to a degree. Therefore you can't get the tire to rub on a fork leg, like you can a Lauf, and you also have a damper, obviously the Lauf does not. So the Fox is adjustable. That's a big deal for really light or heavier folks. If you fall into Lauf's sweet spot for weight, no concerns there.

MG said...

It was an awesome day on the bike with you, Brother!! Like you said in your post yesterday, it’s been way too long. You rode great, especially considering the equipment challenges you faced.

Speaking to your comment about the stiffness of the Lauf compared to the Fox AX, I agree that it’s easier to get the Lauf to flex laterally, but also have found that the lack of a hydraulic damper is actually a boon on washboard-style repetitive bumps, which are very common on late-summer gravel around here. In this case, the Lauf is totally in its element. I feel it’s sprung a little heavy for my 160 lb weight, so someone in the 180-200 pound range should be good to go. I’ve found it also helps to keep the front axle torqued to the 12nM max, as there’s noticeably less lateral movement.

Guitar Ted said...

@MG- Thanks Brother! Soon we will see each other again at Gravel Worlds.

Thanks for the direct feedback on the Lauf as well.

Josh said...

Great ride! It was good to chat with everyone, ride some awesome Iowa gravel, and unexpectedly participate in GarBRAI.

Some additional photos on my Strava activity here, not sure if you have to be on Strava to see them: https://www.strava.com/activities/1734472090

Glenn said...

Wow, that Avenue I.

Those photos are hard to believe.


Unknown said...

Thanks again for the ride! Nothing like 20+ like minded folks, 100+ miles, some dirt, Casey's pizza and beer to make a great day.

Rick (Marion)