But I am just a pilgrim on this road, boys
Until I see you fare thee well
-Steve Earle, Pilgrim

Friday, July 19, 2013

Central Iowa 400K

Dan Pfaff and I hit the road again Friday afternoon, July 12, for the last round of Central Iowa brevets in Ames. There were 20 riders for the 06:00 start Saturday morning: eight for the 600K; three, including Dan and me, for the 400K; two for the 300K; and seven for the 200K. We had a few minutes after the riders meeting and before the start, so I headed back in to grab a couple hard boiled eggs from the breakfast bar. On the way out, I decided to hit the restroom, and by the time I got on the bike, everyone was already heading east out of town. I caught up with Dan, who was riding slowly so I could catch up. We passed several of the 200K riders, who had stopped to fix a flat just west of Nevada. In Nevada, we turned south while the 300K and 600K riders continued east. The 200K riders soon passed us a few miles south of Nevada. We had a southeast wind but made good time, reaching the first information control (22.5 miles) at 07:35. This was where the 300K and 600K routes rejoined ours.

With the wind at our back, we were at the second control in Polk City (37.6 miles) by 08:48. A couple of the 600K riders passed us just outside of Polk City, with the remainder joining us at the control. The last 13 to 14 miles of the route to the next control in Redfield was on the Raccoon River Valley Trail, a former rail line. We reached Redfield (75.4 miles) at 11:54. The next control was in Audubon, a distance of about 48 miles, so we stopped in Guthrie Center to refill our water bottles. The route between Guthrie Center and Audubon was nothing but hills. The total route has about 8,200 feet of climbing, and a large chunk of it was on this segment. Fortunately, the cloud cover increased during the afternoon so the temperature maxed out about 86 degrees rather than the predicted 91. Regardless, with the wind at our back, we made it to the control in Audubon (123.7 miles) at 16:16. We stopped at the Subway for dinner. I had been having problems with hot foot in my right foot, so I also adjusted my cleat back a few millimeters. We headed out again about 17:00.

We retraced 11 miles of the route and hills before we turned north on a concrete road that had recently been milled to remove the asphalt. It lasted for six miles, and only could have been worse if they had just milled it down to asphalt. The wind was again at our backs, and we would have made great time on the rollers if the surface had been smooth. Keith Gates (RUSA #1445), who was riding the 600K, had passed us just before we turned north on the milled road, and we caught up with him at the Coon Rapids Community Park where we stopped for water. We also donned our reflective gear. Keith rode with us through the night back to Ames. We reached the control in Scranton (164.5 miles) at 21:00.

The next control (197.8) miles was informational and located at a golf course. We reached it at 12:32. We spent some time there. I was still having hot foot, and it was good to be able to take off my sandal to massage my foot. I am not sure why it was occurring. I kept adjusting the straps to loosen the sandal to accommodate my foot swelling as it got hot. We headed south and picked up the High Trestle Trail in Woodward. This was the same section we rode on the 200K, but in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, since it was after midnight, the decorative lights were off on the High Trestle Bridge when we crossed. We reached the control in Madrid (227.1 miles) at 03:58. We were back to Ames and the last control (250.1) miles at 06:38. This was one of my slowest 400Ks, primarily because we spent about four hours off the bike based on my computer, which for once, I remembered to reset at the beginning of the ride. I often forget because I rarely use it except at night to measure distances between turns in poorly signed areas. Coming back into Ames was also slow because of the numerous turns and the use of urban bike paths, which I find are generally slower than riding on streets. Overall, it was a great ride. Neither Dan or I had any mechanical problems, and I saw some great scenery and interesting architecture.
Riders meeting at the start
Big Creek Historical Society building, Polk City, IA
Crossing Saylorville Lake
Granger, IA
White Barns
Dallas Center, IA
Riding the Raccoon River Trail
Raccoon River Trail
Raccoon River
Adel, IA

Adel, IA
Near Redfield, IA
Raccoon River Trail, Redfield, IA
Guthrie Center, IA
Guthrie Center, IA
Deconstructing barn
Six miles of milled road
Saturday Evening
Sunrise, Ames, IA

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Central Iowa 200K

I have not been riding much this year, so I have not been posting. I had only ridden three 123K permanents in 2013 until Saturday when Dan Pfaff and I rode the Central Iowa 200K brevet. The brevet started at 06:00 in Ames. There was a 400K starting at the same time. There were eight riders for the 200K and five for the 400K. We started together under generally clear skies with no wind. There were some low-lying clouds to the east that helped block the rising sun.
At the start
There was a fast group of five that quickly disappeared down the road. We hung with a group of four, riding a little faster than our normal pace, until about mile 16 when my rear tire began to feel soft. Dan and I stopped while they headed on. I found a small slit in the tire that I was going to have to boot when I replaced the tube. After I removed the tire from the rim and inspected the inside, I found a small piece of wire barely sticking out of the inside of the tire. There was not enough sticking out to grab hold of, so I replaced the tire. If I had not been carrying a spare, I probably could have eventually gotten the wire out. While we were changing the tire, the last two riders passed us and we assumed our usual position as the last riders. We reached the first control (22.5 miles), which was informational, at 07:48. We were still on a 10-hour pace even after stopping to fix the flat. An informational control requires riders record a response to a question about something they can see. We had to write down the color of the two zip ties attached to the stop sign pole. We turned southwest at the stop sign and west about a mile further on. The skies were beginning to cloud up.
Heading east out of town

Dan & the only two windmills we saw
Greg Courtney, the RBA for Central Iowa, marks his routes with pavement paint. This is not traditional for the Missouri brevets. It really helped me because I could not read the cue sheet without stopping to put on my reading glasses. Since I had cataract surgery in January, I had not ridden a route that required reading the que sheet, so I had not given it any thought. I now have some stick on reading lenses on my cycling sun glass lenses. I need to get another set for the alternate clear lenses I wear at night.
Farm house
We turned north onto the HighTrestle Trail at mile 34. The wind was blowing out of the south between five and ten mph, which helped us move along at about 18 mph. We reached the second control (48.2 miles) at 09:38. The control was at the Flat Tire Lounge, which is located right on the trail. We planned to eat some real food, but the grill did not open until 10:00. They were advertising a Bloody Mary special, but I ate a small bag of free popcorn instead. We took advantage of the restroom and headed on. There were a number of businesses in the small towns that had small signs along the trail announcing their services. There were also some rest stops set up for a Tour de Cure ride that was taking place that day. We encountered a number of riders along the trail, but we could not tell which ones were riding the event. We saw several trikes and two recumbents bolted together side-by-side to create a four-wheel contraption.
High Trestle Trail
Sheldahl, IA
Grain elevator south of Madrid, IA
Flat Tire Lounge, Madrid, IA
Underpass, Madrid, IA
 The highlight of the ride was crossing the Des Moines River on the High Trestle Trail Bridge. It is a very impressive structure with great views. Too bad we did not have more time to enjoy the views. The bridge is lit at night.
High Trestle Bridge
Des Moines River from the High Trestle Bridge

Dan & Ralph on the High Trestle Bridge
Woodward, IA, Trailhead
 The third control was in Ogden, IA, (72.4 miles) where we arrived at 11:37. I had a breakfast burrito and V-8. Dark clouds were slowly moving in from the west. When we turned back to the east at Highway 175, it began to sprinkle. It was not enough to put on my rain jacket. The wind was still blowing about ten mph out of the south. We arrived at the fourth control in Stratford, IA, (93.3 miles) at 13:26. I ate three chicken strips and drank a bottle of sweet ice tea. We were out of the control fairly quickly. About three miles further east, we turned south into the wind and the sprinkles. We had hoped to maintain 13-14 mph on the leg south, but settled for 11-12. We turned east again after nine miles, and by the time we turned onto the next south leg, the wind had died down and we were able to maintain about 14 mph. It started to rain harder just as we reached Ames. The route enters Ames from the northwest, and we meandered through town, mostly on local streets. It was somewhat slow going because of the number of turns. If we had been more familiar with the route, we probably could have gotten through town much quicker. We arrived at the final control (127.0 miles) at 16:16. It was a nice route, and we had a good ride.
Ogden, IA, control

Stratford, IA, control
Headed back to Ames