Traer Iowa was the "lunch stop" for the 2017 GTDRI and besides my having been there what seems like a million times on a bicycle, or for cycling related events, it was a typical stop on a GTDRI. Bikes takeover convenience store, smelly riders hanging out front, bemused locals giving the side-eye. Yeah, pretty typical stuff.
With one minor exception. It was a fellow with a dog-in-arms who made a beeline straight for me as I stood out in the parking lot. He was amazed that he had caught us at Traer on a gravel ride, which he'd read about a bunch on this very blog. (And maybe you still read this blog? Let me know!) Anyway, it was strange to meet a local gravel rider in the area that I did not know well. Even in 2017 there weren't many locals imbibing in the dusty road feast we had surrounding us. Which, I still think is weird, and that this area doesn't have an event? Perhaps even more ironic, but that's a story for another time.
|A typical scene from a GTDRI. Ride stop in Traer|
Traer was a staple stop on my own rides for years. It figured first into my history with gravel way back when I was just getting going with gravel rides. Trans Iowa v3 went through Traer, so as early as 2007, I was using this town, and the BP Convenience store in particular, as a stop.
I'm pretty sure the BP renovated just as I was starting to use that store, but since that time little has been done in terms of upkeep by whomever owns the place. Every year it seemed that I could discern a visible decay in the exterior and a downward trend in positive employee interaction. But always there was something there that could be used to power you onward through a ride. Hot food, general convenience store grub, and water and electrolyte drinks.
|A shot of the Traer BP Convenience store during the 2011 GTDRI|
The same store was used on Trans Iowa v5, the 2011 GTDRI, and on a ton of my own rides South out of Waterloo. This 2017 version of the GTDRI and the following year were the last two times I would feature the store on an organized ride.
It is kind of odd, in a way, that this is not a Casey's Convenience store. You'd think that the franchise would have popped up on a major US highway and Traer fits that company's profile perfectly, but..... Nope! It never was a Casey's, but it was, in my opinion, a poor copy of one. I guess I cannot complain. At least there is a place to stop on routes South out of Waterloo!
As it pertained to the particular ride I am writing about here, the Traer BP store serviced our needs well enough. We were able to hang around as long as we wanted to and maybe because I'd stopped there with rides so many times before it wasn't a shocker to locals to see some sweaty, dirty cyclists walking around "their" convenience store.
Next: The ride leaves Traer.