It's always fun going back to read these old GTDRI reports and find things I had completely forgotten about. Things about what we saw or went through during the day. Looking at the images, getting clues as to the weather. I'm sure glad I wrote those rides up like I did.
I remember now how I really did not like the first part of the ride. I had to route us on some highway to get us into Strawberry Point and since this was so early into the ride it was, well......pointless. We did not need to go through town, but we did. I guess I'd change that bit now looking back.
But, since we did go through town we exposed ourselves to the derisive comments of the locals who were setting up for RAGBRAI to come through that day. Apparently, we were "going the wrong way", and we got a few chuckles and waves. sigh! The entire "You must be doing/training for/going on RAGBRAI" thing (because if you ride a bike in Iowa, you know...) gets really stale really fast. I was very happy to have left Strawberry Point in our dust that day.
|Some of the first gravel after leaving Backbone State Park, before Strawberry Point.|
|A bit of the old "Mission Road". A trail developed for military purposes in the early 1800's. |
This was a super-humid day. One of those where you are wetted out within the first mile of riding. It would be a very taxing day for a ride for most anyone and especially for me as I have not had the best of luck with weather like that. Fortunately the course wasn't particularly hard right out of the gate.
We had a big delay early on when one of the riders punctured who was in the back and we who were ahead of him didn't see or hear that he was having issues. Jeremy Fry, (who actually joined us for the start this time!) and Michael Lemberger finally showed back up, but that all raised my anxiety level up a notch as I had a schedule for time in my head and long delays weren't planed in. But eventually we were on our way.
|This was a pretty cool barn along our route. Michael Lemberger is the rider here. |
|The land just South of Volga is hilly and you can experience spectacular vistas like this. |
The course eventually got really hilly coming to Volga, but there was relief in the form of a long downhill run into Volga from the South and then leaving there we were taking a nice, flat and winding road which followed the Volga River for many miles.
And then it got hilly again!
By this point into the ride the Sun was beginning to burn off the clouds and haze we had been protected by most of the early morning hours. It was getting beastly out, and I remember thinking that it was way too early for me to be suffering.
|A much welcomed rest stop in Wadena, Iowa.|
|A friendly cur. Too friendly! One of my favorite "dog stories" too. |
This dog, shown above, has woven its way into the annals of the GTDRI by not only appearing once, but twice through the years. Both times it was the same story. This dog came out, cavorting and just wanting to run amongst the cyclists, and would show no signs of being aggressive. However; the dog was a danger as it would dart from rider to rider, crossing paths of the bikes and nearly taking us down a few times. Stopping, yelling, trying to chase it away - all fruitless. The course finally made a quick left, then right and down about a mile on a steep hillside. This allowed us to outrun the dog and it finally gave up. I suppose that went on for about five miles or so.
Both times this happened it was the same deal. We were going the same direction, and we did not ditch the dog until the high-speed downhill was reached.
|Echo Valley Road is a gorgeous bit of Iowa gravel. |
|One thing about this route- It is stunningly beautiful|
Once we had distanced ourselves from the Velcro Dog, we found ourselves on about 25+ miles of fairly flat terrain, passing through Elgin on our way to Elkader along the Turkey River. This would be our last respite from the brutally steep hills for the day.
Join me next week for the surprise ending of the Ninth GTDRI.