Imagine if you will, a 4am start time for a Saturday bike race, starting and finishing after a 314 mile loop at the same location, Grinnell, Iowa. Throw in heavy fog, 60 bike racers and nearly all gravel roads. Sprinkle in 24 hours of rain just prior and a SPECTACULAR lighting show beginning 1 hour after the race start. Get dropped from lead group of 20-25 at mile eight. Continue into daylight and follow course cue sheets with an everchanging group of racers. Eventually leave most behind me because I don't stop (completely). Order up a one mile muddy hike n bike...check! CP#1 was at mile 45 and less than 50% make in there by 8am (4 hours) cuttoff. Ride into CP#1 and fill camelback at city park where CP#1 was located. Proceed solo.
Lots of rollers, lots of wind, lots of soft gravel roads makes your legs hurt and your mind suffer. At about 11 hours (3pm or so), I make wrong turn at Mile 110, lose 20 minutes and any chance to make 13 hour time cut for CP#2 at mile 130. Exit course with no map and no idea where I was.....is this heaven?....no its Iowa! Ride a few miles to find gas station, checked a map and after a Mountain Dew, some Gatoraid and a gas station sandwich I was headed North Up Iowa Route 146. Luckily, all that stood between me and a hot shower was a quick 20 miles on asphalt roads, or so I thought. Nice 20 mph head wind, some more rain and unrelenting Iowa terrain made my arrivel at our Hotel pretty suite. In all 140 miles and 14 hours door to door, for a blazing 10 mph average. Yes, we were really racing, so leave your fat, slow guy comments to yourself:)
Random thoughts from last weekend:
Iowa gravel roads are slow going when wet.
Why do 28MM road tires auger into wet gravel?
It is windy in Iowa.
No more than 20 cars past me all day..no shit...the whole day.
Iowa is not flat.
The first 140 miles of TI V.1 (2005) was fucking easy compared to this!
More animals than people.
High speed bike riding is better when you can see more than 10 feet.
They ended up pulling the final 6-9 people (one sick tandem couple) at mile 150-160. No finishers this year.
Here are some more thoughtful recaps from riders (and writers) better than I.
Multiple Time Finisher
Finisher in 2009 and others
Sick Tandem Folks
Another Fast Dude
Next up is Mohican 100k with some Westlake and mountain bike races thrown in for training (and fun)!