Last Friday I made my way down to Spring Valley, MN in a constant rain. I told myself if it was raining Saturday morning I'd pack it up and head home. I rode in the rain two years ago for the Royal and that was enough. But after I picked up my packet and had some spaghetti the rain stopped and the sun was working it's way through the clouds.
Saturday morning was perfect. Light wind, sunny skies, and not too hot or cool. I made my way to the start line with about 900 other riders. An amazing sight. Nice job Mr. Skogen, nice job.
This race was to be a bit different for me. I was riding for fun and going to ride how I wanted to ride. Which means, if you read between the lines, I'm not in shape!
At the start the pace was hot. Around 15 miles in I looked at our average and it was 21 mph! I went out with the lead group, as best I could, because I don't like crowds on the bike so buried myself for a bit to thin the herd a bit. I hung, at and sometimes off the back, with the lead group till Preston, about 38 miles in. There they found another gear and were gone. I was very ok with this.
From here on out I was never with the same group or person for a real long time. Either they or I would ride away from each other, stop for water, but more times than not the hills would separate groups. My Garmin reported about 7000 feet of climbing. Not bad for Minnesota!
I brought 3 bottles with me. I was told of a faucet around 60 miles. I was out of water and hoping this was right. I went through where I thought the water was but nothing. Getting a bit nervous I pedaled on. About a mile later I saw a line of riders filling up! Cold water! I was defiantly getting dehydrated. My head was pounding a bit and I wasn't peeing much at all. Not much I could do now. The mistake was made. I'm lucky in that I don't cramp very often on the bike so I wasn't too concerned.
Around 80 miles we made it to the creek crossing. Last year it was a trickle, this year it was full force. I made it about 3/4 the way across before the hip deep water took me down. I was up and out without too much difficulty and nothing lost! Thanks to the impromptu volunteers standing in the water to make sure we crossed safely. Later a rope was slung across and eventually the course was rerouted. Stuff like this is why I love gravel racing...!
With about 10 miles left I hooked up with a group of riders and we stuck together for the most part till the end. I was more than ready to be done. The legs felt pretty good still, but my lower back was shot, and my head was a throbbing.
Once again the finish line to the Almanzo didn't disappoint. Hand shakes, congratulations, Coke, water, chips, chili hot dogs, and friends abound.
I hung out a bit before I found my car, cleaned up, and made for home.
I had a blast. This race has me excited again...something I was missing.
My Garmin stats: 101 miles, 7000 ft of climbing, 17.2 mph avg, 5 hrs 51 minutes.
A great day on the bike.
Thanks Chris and Almanzo Volunteers...amazing.
No riding since then. Been pretty busy plus it's rained something like 4" in the past 5 days. I've had some gym time but that's about it. Looks like a ride may happen today. Fingers are crossed!