Wednesday, December 11, 2019

C.O.G.100 Course Recon Report

Please keep in mind that Iowa is flat.
Last Saturday N.Y. Roll and I decided to forgo the Global Fat Bike day festivities and do our duty with regard to C.O.G. 100 course recon. It was one of the nicest days in December you could ask for, not very "fat bike" type weather anyway. So, off we went to Grinnell and the start line of the 2020 C.O.G. 100.

Speaking of the start line, we have an idea to tweak where that is so it starts North of HWY 6 and directly opposite of a large parking lot. We have to do some asking and get permissions first, so stay tuned on that.

The course will head out on the same road riders used last year, but that is about the only thing that is the same this time for 2020. We have a course this year which packs in a lot of the same type of things Trans Iowa was known for but in a smaller, 100 mile bite. It'll be easy. So easy you'll only need ONE GEAR. Oh......yes. This must be said again, because I am sure it will come up, but your bicycle MUST BE A SINGLE SPEED. No exceptions. We had a full field last year which figured out how to show up on a single speed, so we know you can do this. In other words, don't show up thinking your zip-tied, locked into one gear, multiple speed equipped bike is sano with the C.O.G. 100, because that ain't a gunna fly. Be a single speed committed rider. Ride a single speed bike. Period.

There will be big rollers, long grades, mind numbing flat sections, big long stretches with no turns and sections with turns every mile or less. Your navigational skills will be challenged as well as your physical skills. Yes.....this means you will be using cue sheets. There will be no GPS files made available to navigate by. Everyone will be on the same page- literally- for navigation. This drops any advantages some may have due to their ability to have a GPS device over someone who cannot. Plus- cue sheets demand your engagement. This is important, it is more difficult, and as such, requires another level of skill. We're not forcing you to come to the 2020 C.O.G. 100, so remember- "If you don't like the rules, maybe this event isn't for you."

Part of the single Level B Maintenance dirt road which will be on the 2020 C.O.G. 100 course.
Of course, there will also be a Level B Maintenance dirt road in the course for the C.O.G. 100 next year. This one will have a 90° turn in it and will be approximately one mile in length. The road slowly changes over back to gravel as you get toward the end, (as we will be taking it) of this section. Oh's mostly uphill too. 

Amazingly we were able to drive it this time. I wasn't expecting this, but with the angle of the Sun now days, the tree lined road was shaded enough that the dirt was frozen, for the most part. there was one open section where it was a touch greasy, but N.Y. Roll's Subie made mincemeat of that, and we rolled right through. Don't count on such luck in late March. But then again, you never know! 

I thought that there might be a very short section of dirt road at another point on the course, but there is some construction going on around a bridge, and the road is being changed. We are not sure just what might become of this as of now, but my feeling is that the old dirt section will become gravel and the bridge? Well, we do not know at this point. If it gets taken out, we have a possible re-route we can employ here. The best part is that it neither adds nor subtracts course mileage.

Roller coaster

Last year we took a little criticism of where the convenience store stop was in relation to the course mileage. We had the one and only stop available at about Mile 80-ish. This year we are adjusting this to be as close to right-smack-dab in the middle as we can. It worked out that at around mile 48-49 you'll get a chance to swing in and resupply on water, food, or use a restroom. We scoped out this store Saturday and it should serve riders well. But that said, it isn't anything to write home about. It's maybe the "next step up" over what was on the course last year. Maybe. These are small town villages we are talking about here, so don't expect a super-market type joint. It isn't available in rural Iowa.

Also- We had to make a "lollipop" loop in to and out of this town to get you into this convenience store opportunity. There will be approximately a 1-1.5 mile stretch where the loop overlaps onto the same piece of road you started the loop on. This means that, since the loop is about 20-ish miles in length, there may be some leaders on the road coming through some slower riders as those slower riders enter the loop. We are planning to demarcate the cues where there will be overlap so riders will know where this could occur. Bottom line- pay attention to your cues-do not just follow a wheel! You could end up on the loop again, or find yourself short cutting the loop off, if you aren't paying attention.

There also is a convenience store opportunity at around Mile 68. It's visible just down from an intersection and would probably add about 3/4's of a mile if you took advantage of it for a "round trip", off the route and back on again. This may get lost if we have issues with re-routing for that bridge I mentioned earlier, so stay tuned......

So, this bears repeating, but YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU! We do not supply an "aid station", nor do we have a "sag wagon", or any such thing to serve you as a bail-out option. You need to provide that. Carry along the food you need, water for at least 50-60 miles, and have someone available to cart your broken down self/bike/both in case you get stranded and cannot continue in the event. We won't be there to bail you out, hold your hand, or make decisions for you. That's all on you.

The roads were super-smooth and fast, but don't expect this in March.
Mind-numbing flats? We got that. Also- Note the chunky gravel here. This is more representative of what you'll see in March.
The course distance has been reduced to 102-ish max. Maybe 101. We have ideas on the finish line which when we get those straightened out, we will be able to say an exact distance. But yeah.....ten miles shorter than last year. 

C.O.G. 100: Real. American. Gravel
Other ideas are still in flux. We are toying with what to give riders for the championship recognition. Jersey? Trophy? Both? Let's hear some feedback. Plus, I have a great idea for this year's icon/header for the site/schwag idea. I'm working up the art now, but the slogan I came up with is "Real American Gravel" and N.Y. Roll and I are pretty sure this will end up being a hat again. There will be a pre-event gathering/pre-sign on at Peace Tree Tap Room again in downtown Grinnell. So, plan on joining us for that as well. (They do have a non-alcoholic choice or two as well for those who do not drink alcohol.)

So, just a bit of backstory on the #RealAmericanGravel and how this came about. As we were doing recon, we came across a Bald Eagle sitting on a carcass of something alongside the road. We passed it by and it did not move a muscle. Amazing! then I saw a US flag on a hill, and I guess I was inspired. It took me about two or three stabs at a phrase but when I said "Real American Gravel" I knew that was it.

So, now you know how that happened.

We are pretty happy with the course. I think it will provide a bit of challenge in several ways, worthy of a "single speed championship course". We certainly have our work cut out for us on our end, but we should be able to pull this together and provide details on the remaining areas we need to get nailed down soon. This includes registration.

Stay tuned......


Aaron S said...

very very excited for this.

Rydn9ers said...

The root beer that they make at Peace Tree is fantastic if you're looking for something other than beer.

Guitar Ted said...

@Aaron S - Thanks! We're excited about it too.

@Rydn9ers- Agreed! Very tasty!

DT said...

Love the slogan!

bluecolnago said...

Sweet. Sounds like fun. ;)

Guitar Ted said...

@bluecolnago- Dang! Now there's a name I haven't heard from here in a while! Thanks for the comment.

Gravelo said...

Love the tag line, could it get even better with a period after each word? Real. American. Gravel. It would still be a 3 word phrase, but each word can stand alone,much like the mentality of a racer riding gravel, on a single speed, in Iowa. Cool looking event.

Skidmark said...

I like the rules. Its just how far Grinnell, Iowa is from Florida. Especially in March.

Guitar Ted said...

@Gravelo- I use it exactly that way in regular text, but when you create a hashtag link, you cannot use periods, or it breaks the link. So, that was habit there in the post. Likely there will be something along the lines of a hat made for the event with the "Real. American. Gravel." slogan on it as you point out.

@Skidmark- Ah! Yes- I can see where you are coming from with that thought there.

x3speed said...

Are you guys still doing a shorter route?

Guitar Ted said...

@x3speed - Our intentions are to provide a short course for a more recreational experience. However it has to work within our limited resources. So, short answer- Stay tuned.....

teamdarb said...

@Skidmark - About as far as Maine is. Just bring a jacket and a big ol smile. I spent three days on a greyhound bus last year.