Monday, March 31, 2014

Playing catch up.

*This post I started the draft on a year ago about the Renegade Gents Race. The 2014 edition of the race is coming up this weekend and I'll be riding it again.

Welp, now that I live in Iowa (more on that later if you didn't know) it just makes sense that I:

1) Get a "fat" bike (well as soon as the Surly Krampus becomes available)
2) Ride some gravel events
And since currently #2 is much easily accomplished than #1 I did the Bike Iowa dot Com Renegade Gents Race on Saturday April 6th.
I had originally considered bringing a team up from KC to do the event. But then my life changed dramatically and I moved to Des Moines, IA to be with my lady, SFW, full time... 3 weeks before the weekend of the event.
I moved to a new town, into a new house & started a new job. Needless to say things got pretty hectic for a bit and the idea of doing the Gents Race kind of went on the back burner.
A week before the event I got asked if I could sub on a team (one I later learned the "internet famous" Guitar Ted was on) for a friend who was potentially going to pull out due to injury.
However, Bob turned out to be OK.
At that point I already had the day off and was getting excited at the possibility of doing the event. So the mad scramble to find a team began.
I found one.
Team Fry Guy (or Steve Fry Incorporated  how its listed in the results), headed up by fellow Bike World employee (he works at West while I am at the Urbandale location) Steve Fry.
He had assembled a mixed group of people for the event and I was added to the roster.

Team Fry Guy at the finish!
 Sam, Fry, yours truly, Loren & Amy at the finish
 Notice that Loren is wearing a Gravel Worlds Champion jersey...

I had never met any of my team until that morning and we only had about 5 minutes for introductions at the sign in at Kyle's Bikes before we had to get moving a mile or so down the road to the start.
The start was staggered based off  skill level etc. We were to start at 8:42 AM which meant when we got to the actual start we were about 10 minutes late.

Once we got rolling I discovered pretty quickly that my excitement to ride the 65+ miles hard wasn't gonna work for all of us.
Although Loren and Steve could match my pace Amy, not having much gravel riding experience, rode cautiously in the sometimes surprisingly sandy terrain & Sam, on 29er (a sweet carbon Orbea), just couldn't match our pace.
Not wanting make my new teammates hate me by pushing the pace or by simply riding away, I had to reign myself in a few times over the course of the day.
Although I really felt I could ride faster on the pancake flat, yet windy course, its was after all a team event

Mechanically issues plagued Sam all day. Mostly a slowly leaking tubeless rear tire
Unfortunately he didn't realize he had a leak until just before the start and wasn't equipped with enough C02 or even a pump. Meaning many stops over the course of the day to C02 or pump up his tire with gear that luckily a couple of us had. 
The tire issue led to a bit of humor the first time we pumped it up.
After checking in (late) at the start line and before we got into the gravel we stopped to top off Sam's tire. Fry whipped out his pump and got to pumping. Unfortunately he didn't consider that this style of pump threads onto the valve stem and when he unthreaded it he inadvertently also unthreaded Sam's valve stem from the rim.
Woosh! All the air escaped the tire.
We all stood there for a minute dumbfounded. Then we kind of giggled making comments about how it was gonna be a long day considering that we hadn't really even got started.   
But in the end it was a good day. Long but good.
We all rode hard and had a good time. Passing the miles chatting about this and that or just lost in our own thoughts.

 The check point at the 1/2 mark was full of teams all chatting and refueling with food, beer or what have you.
Squirrel  was even walking around passing out strips of bacon.
Mmmm.... Bacon!

1/2 way mark. Having fun. Head winds suck.

Back onto the gravel we rode with a few teams briefly before they either rode away from us or us away from them.
By the end we were all getting tired and not only was Sam's rear tire leakage still an issue but he was fighting some leg cramps.
I dropped back to try and pull him along stopping frequently to let him stretch while I pumped some more air into his tire.

But we all made it to the finish together with smiles on our faces.
Beers, high fives & hugs went around our group.
We said our goodbyes and I found my ride back to DSM waiting for me.

Good times. I'll do it again next year*.

*And I will on April 5th.


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