The ride eventually pulled into Traer with one of the largest groups I've ever been in hitting a small town convenience store. This always was a bit of a blessing and a curse for these small stores because we were an outlier in their planning.
On one hand, we probably made their day, week, and month by showing up and purchasing goods. On the other hand, we threw off their planning by using up more stock than they thought they would and maybe we even threw off future stocking plans because the store manager may have thought we were a "trend" in an upward trajectory for the future.
Of course, at the time all we cared about was getting water and grub to refuel for the next half and a little more of the course. Timing-wise we were way ahead of schedule, arriving nearly an hour earlier than we had the year before. So, I was in no particular hurry to leave again. But, as is the case with me, I feel the urge to get-a-move-on at some point and I finally herded up the cats and we left Traer's confines on one of my rides for the last time ever.
|The only Traer stop shot I took. At the time I had no reason to believe this wouldn't happen again.
|We had a bit of flat tire bother after leaving Traer.
The next section of the ride I have little memory of. In fact, that loss of memory starts in Traer. I just don't have many impressions from that part of the ride at all. I remember "O" Avenue's Level B dirt, and that we had some issues with tires along the way. Then my mind goes blank from there till we got to "I Avenue" and that "barely there" dirt/grass track.
I cannot even say I was riding bad or good. The report after the ride said that the bike I was testing, an Otso Waheela S, had a SRAM 1X drive train that wasn't shifting into its three lowest gears. I suppose I wasn't having any fun at all throughout most of this part of the ride since it was the hilliest part on the course.
|Double "I" Avenue. ("II Ave")
I do recall shepherding the riders across HWY 63 and because I was being so carefull I ended up being waaaaay off the back. This meant that I wasn't in the conversations being had, but this ride was for those who showed up, not so much for me, and with a bigger group, I felt all the more responsibility for them.
The guys did wait up for me at a few spots, so we did get to ride "I Ave" together, so maybe this is why I don't remember much about the route between Traer and "I Avenue". Maybe.... That or I am losing it.
|Yes, it really is a public roadway. Hard to believe.
|More "II Ave" action. You can see riders way up the path here.
|Kyle Platts (R.I.P.) took this one of me on "II Ave". Note the barely visible rider in the background!
Well, if there ever was a "hit roads" compilation for rural Iowa gravel, "II Ave" in Tama County would have to be a Top Ten " Hit Road". I've been on a lot of rural tracks that weren't fit for man or beast and that one is a standout road. Of course, I haven't seen 'em all, but ya gotta admit, that's one bizarre road right there!
The riders all thought so as well. We gathered up everyone at the Northern terminus of the grassy track and everyone was remarking on how cool that experience was. That certainly made me feel good about the course, and I will never forget that response I received from everyone that spoke up. I imagine a few thought it was unnecessary, bonkers, and that I could have left that out of the course, but if there was anyone there that day that felt that way, I never heard about it.
And at that moment in time, I figured that was the climax. the highlight of the ride, but we had a lot of riding ahead of us and I was afraid that the riders would be disappointed in the remainder of the course.However; I hadn't counted on something that happened that day that I, nor anyone else, could have imagined would happen. It turned out to be the highlight of the 2018 GTDRI.
Next: The 2018 GTDRI - Part 4: Potato Water