The 2017 version of the GTDRI was looking to be one of those magical ones with a weather forecast that promised a dry event with temperatures about 20 degrees lower than many GTDRI's had and even low humidity.
I had to get up early to drive down to Reinbeck and meet whomever might decide to show up for this tribute to the PCL's Tour of Dirt Roads. The attendance for this ride was in question right up until we clipped in and turned pedals. Early in the week I had four commitments and then three of those later emailed me to drop out. One individual came into the shop where I worked and committed to coming, and then two folks showed up last minute to join.
That was always the amazing part about this ride, that being who showed up, because I was always amazed at what people would do just to ride my route with me. This particular year, which saw six people besides myself ride, I had two people drive up separately from the Lincoln/Omaha area. One started out his trip at 2:30am! I had a guy from Iowa City show up, and then a local, Robert Fry, a Trans Iowa veteran rider and volunteer, showed up to Reinbeck having ridden his bicycle there from Cedar Falls.
That's a level of commitment that one has to respect. Long drives, people riding miles to get to the ride, it was all very humbling, and even to this day I shake my head in amazement at these things.
|The start of a beautiful day on the bike.
|N.Y. Roll (R) and Rob from Omaha lead Robert Fry and Nick from Iowa City as we get started in 2017.
This ride was also an anomaly because most of the riders were new to the GTDRI also. That was exciting as I had a chance to get to know these guys a little bit better. The trouble was, this was a much faster group than I was used to leading, and mostly following, during one of my rides.
That said, it was really looking like a great ride, except that Kevin, who had a history of back issues anyway, probably exacerbated that by sitting in a car for four plus hours and then jumping straight away into a 17mph pace line on gravel. there was no warm-up and he was already fatigued from that long drive. Whatever the case was, he started to indicate to me that he probably was going to have to bail out at some point early on.
I felt bad for him. I knew what it was like to feel like you aren't up to the task, or that you are the anchor on a ride. I'd been there many times, and the previous GTDRI was a great example of that. We tried to encourage him, but to no avail. Fortunately the route laid out so that Kevin could hit a long East-West road that would take him right back to Reinbeck, but Kevin was more interested in hitting a town earlier so we sent him to Traer, which was a planned stop for lunch on this ride. The hope then was that Kevin might have enough time to rest that he'd feel good about riding more.
The group was thrilled with the route so far and the dirt roads were in stellar shape. I was feeling pretty pleased with the way things were going, with the exception of Kevin's issues. We rode in parts of three different counties in the span of the first 50 miles, and at a fast pace as well. This, if anything, was my only real concern overall. Going fast on a long day? It hadn't worked well in years past.
Well, we'd find out what would happen soon enough.....
Next: Part 2