|The recon for the 4th GTDRI was fun.|
As the calendar turned to 2009, I was finding myself at another crossroads in terms of the website stuff I was doing. The entire network of sites I was a part of at the time was falling apart, I started another new blog about gravel grinding, and plans for a third outlet for cycling reviews was being laid. Of course, Trans Iowa, another "Big Wheeled Ballyhoo, and the next Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational were also events I had on my "to-do" list.
Somehow or another, I found the time to throw this route together that I had begun to conceive of around 2007. That was a big loop in Northeast Iowa. The whole idea stemmed around a suggestion for a starting point from a friend at the time. He had told me of Echo Valley State Park near West Union, Iowa.
This time, instead of the GTDRI routes influencing Trans Iowa, Trans Iowa routes influenced the GTDRI. We had come through this area in 2008 and I had gotten a lot of great feedback on certain roads that were in the vicinity of West Union. Plus, there was a big chunk of road that never got used in T.I.v4 because it had been truncated before we got back to Decorah. So, with that already all looked at, and a bit from T.I.v3 added in, I had the majority of the course figured out without too much trouble.
All I had to do was stitch together the loose ends of the route into a cohesive whole and then check out the bits I had not ever been on before. That mainly was the first 40 miles and maybe another 20 or so of the back half of the route. Of course, a trip to Echo Valley State Park was in order as well.
|The roads of Clayton County are pretty spectacular|
I had to ascertain how camping might work out for the event. That trip also included a truck drive of the mostly flat section from Echo Valley to Elkader, which also passed through Elgin, a distance of about 25 miles along the Turkey River.
This sector was pretty flat, and I didn't consider how brutal the rest of the course was until I had seen the bit I had to look at from Edgewood to Strawberry Point. There was, essentially, no where to rest from the hills other than the section along the Turkey river.
This gave me pause. I decided that my including the flat portion at the end, by running the course anticlockwise, was not in the group's best interest, (if there was going to be a group, I never really knew!). So, I decided late into the planning stages to reverse the direction of the course and put the flatter part first.
This kind of went against my initial vision of the route which had I ran it the originally conceived of way, it would have followed the T.I.v4 course exactly where I used it. But, as it turned out, the way we ran it was perfect. And we couldn't have chosen a better Summer to do this on either.
Next: The Year With No Summer