Gotta say, this race was about the most "chillexed" I have been in a long time. Whether it was getting ready at the hotel room with my roommate Charles, hanging out at the prerace dinner, or waking up the next morning. No nerves, just looking to ride and have fun.
We just missed nasty weather as we lined up at 4am in Grinnell, IA. I was thankful because I didn't feel like riding in the rain when it was just under 40 degrees. The start was cool as there were 70 or so pairs of lights headed out into the Iowa countryside. What we found for the first 15 miles was strong headwinds and fresh gravel. Somewhere around dawn the gravel became a little less annoying and our direction was not straight into the wind. At the first checkpoint (52 miles in) I caught back up with the front group after a stop to stretch out the knee that now caused me pain.
There were six of us; Matt and Travis Braun, Eric Brunt, John Gorilla, and Troy Krause. Into another headwind we formed a single file line that would soon slow up to allow a few riders that were dropping off not to brave the wind alone. This happened a few times until a right turn and I found myself alone with the Braun brothers.
Talk about fun! We talked about all sorts of things, but primarily the discussion revolved around the belief by many that the Salsa Fargo is the best bike out there for almost any situation. Our glowing praise of a bike that could be just as comfortable as a cyclocross bike as it could be with a double clamp raging downhills caused us to break into song many times. Oh, the fun we had! We had especially great plans for the watch if we came in together for the win! The planned rumor of a mystery rider on a Fargo off the front never gained steam as G-Ted laughed it off.
Downhill Fargo ready for the world cup, John Travolta singing it's praises. You probably can't tell, but this was photoshopped. Thanks to Matt Braun for this masterpiece.
Well, at about 140 miles in I started to get dizzy and the engine room started to shut off the power. A few flats later thanks to some random large chunks of gravel and the Braun brothers remained by my side, determined that we at least get to the 2nd checkpoint (170 miles in) together. I stopped a few times for dizziness, but the brothers from the same mother seemed more frustrated that the lighter wasn't working for their fireworks than the fact I was causing them to lose time.
At mile 170 I told them to go on. I would briefly join the next group behind us that had not been seen for 70 miles. At the 2nd checkpoint we had a 20 minute lead. Ten miles later after riding by myself and trying to get in a groove the wheels completely came off. I ended up with 200 miles for the day after riding to a nearby town and a huge smile from the fun I had. In my heart I never had the fire to finish the race, but that was fine.
Ari, Gumby, and Tim came to pick me up and the fun continued all the way back to the start. Thanks guys! Thanks to the Brauns! Thanks to Charles and good job out there! Thanks to G-Ted for the race!
J-No and Brian, you are still dead to me.