I’m standing in the garage looking at my bike, powering through another cup of coffee. This decision would prove to be a mistake but at 4:30 in the morning, about to head out in the cold and dark for a ride, it seemed like a good idea. Bike was ready and I knew what I was going to wear so I headed in to get something to eat. This is my other challenge on these early morning rides. I need my coffee first then breakfast but when you get up 45 minutes before rolling out that means I’m eating 20-30 minutes before jumping on the bike. This morning we were taking off for a gravel century so I could have used a decent carbo load but that close to shoving off I settled for about half what I needed. I think I need to be more flexible.

We’re at the two week mark till Trans Iowa. I’ve been getting in decent length rides which is good considering this is crazy time at work. I think my gear is all sorted out although today’s ride is going to make me rethink a couple of things. I’ve got a set of new tires on that I plan on racing with unless I hate them. They’re a little lighter than my wear-like-iron Kenda Small Blocks but untested. I’m also using Kenda Super Light tubes which I hope is not a bad idea.

I’m testing my new rain pants as an outer layer. They’re the non-breathable kind but really lightweight. I’m hoping they’ll work if I need something during the night, I’m really hoping I don’t need them because of rain.

Brad shows up right at 5 and we roll out to pick Matt up. We find him a couple blocks away headed our direction. It’s 30ish, not bad but the wind is already pretty tough and supposed to pick up. Our loose plan is to grunt 50 miles into the wind turn around and surf 50 miles home. The head wind is cold but after a couple of hills we all settle into a precarious just warm enough balance which last until the first pee stop. For some reason after that, I can’t find that balance again. I think the wind had picked up and/or the temp had dropped a few degrees. Image

We stopped by Brad’s daughters for a couple of minutes and then got sucked onto the all-paved ring of roads around Des Moines. It took us 10-15 miles to get far enough away and back on gravel. We had been heading west and south since the wind was supposed to swing around from west to southwest. It swung but not our direction.

We rode through the Neil Smith National Prairie Refuge on the way home. You can ride on a mile of gravel that’s open range with bison and elk. It’s pretty cool to have bison right on the side of the road but I’d never seen elk close to the road. I spotted a group of them 60 yards off the road to my left and was so intent on them, I almost didn’t see the three spike elk running to join them on my right. I braked so they could run across the road in front of me, very cool!

Shortly after that we ran into 5 guys on road bikes from Pella who were training for a one day across Iowa fundraising ride. The raised $29,000 for Bethany Christian Services last year. very, very cool!

Back to the second cup of coffee I started with. That combined with cold temps and a little over-hydration made me stop and pee 5 times!!! What a pain and it’s happened to me before, I need to learn some restraint. New tires were great, I like them. I decided to ditch the aero bars to save a little weight. The pace we’ll be pedaling they don’t make any real difference. Since I’m saving some weight there, I’m going to go with my Brooke’s saddle. Nothing’s gone make 30 hours on a bike seat comfortable but I like my chances on the Brooke’s a little better.

Saturday, April 13th
100ish gravel miles