Sunday, July 20, 2008

GTDRI 2008: No, We're Not With RAGBRAI...

Before the 2008 GTDRI - the crew hangs among their drop bar steel steeds, the unanimous choice for the day. The tally - 1 Soulcraft; 1 Surly; 1 IRD; 1 Badger and 3 Salsas. One of the Salsas was very special...

I spent this weekend in Iowa, participating in Guitar Ted's Death Ride Invitational (GTDRI), along with Lincoln singlespeed mafia hitmen, Matt Wills and Jeff Bonsall. It was even MW's birthday -- Happy Birthday buddy, and gave the day just a little more to celebrate. Also in attendance was Salsa Cycles Super Amigo, Jason Boucher, Mike Beck from Colorado (thanks for helping me figure out your last name Mike), super good guy and TransIowa co-promoter, David Pals, and of course, Guitar Ted himself. It was an awesome crew to ride a hundred-plus miles of Iowa gravel with.
Tigerlillies -- Beautiful.

We were reminded of the institution of RAGBRAI on the ride. Every single time we stopped in a town, we were asked if we were either training for, or with, the famous ride, which started today in Western Iowa, and actually did pass through the area we were riding in about six days. Even though I joke about it, I think it's cool that everybody in Iowa knows about RAGBRAI, and seems to relate in a positive way to it. So hey, if that's what it takes to bring cycling to the common denominator, I give it a hearty thumbs up.

But that said, we were on a distinctly different type of adventure than RAGBRAI... One filled with adventure, beauty and most importantly, DIRT. Almost too much dirt in fact, as the B-road sections were muddy almost to the point of not being ridable. But we rode 'em and we survived.
Choose your weapon -- I choose La Cruz. For the GTDRI, my Salsa La Cruz was the perfect weapon. I was never under-geared, and never ran out of clearance in the mud. I ran a Schwalbe Marathon Cross 700x38c getto tubeless in the front, with a WTB Interwolf 700x38c getto tubeless in the rear. Both tires are wire bead, and both work great in that application. None of us had any flat issues, or bike issues for that matter, to speak of all day. That was awesome!

The end of the first B-Road section. We felt fortunate to have navigated it successfully -- it was muddy and had conditions been just a bit different, could have been disastrous.

The course started at the Hickory Hills campground near La Porte City, IA. and traveled southwest overall before coming back to the northeast. It worked the wind perfectly and took advantage of the best, curviest and most scenic roads the region had to offer. And for weather, it was a pretty darn good day, for July in Iowa. The morning started overcast, with an almost air conditioner effect with the wind. Once the clouds burned off, the temps rose to the mid-90s by mid afternoon. At least the humidity was manageable.

As Jason and I pounded out the last four miles of pavement back to the Hickory Hills campground to meet up with his wife and kids (more than an hour late, of course), I looked down just as my computer turned over 101 miles. Jason was pulling around me at 20.5 mph on a slight uphill with a 10mph headwind. Here this was a guy who, less than 24 hours earlier was telling me of his apprehension about riding his first century in more than a dozen years, and now he was absolutely killing it on the last remaining miles of the ride, leading the pack home. It was awesome to see, because I know how hard he's worked this year to be as lean, fit and strong as he is. In the end, we finished with seven and a half hours, wheels turning, which gave us 102.5 miles of gravel goodness.

Good show, Jason. Thanks for coming down and rollin' the back roads of Iowa with us. That steed you were on was swank. Can't wait to actually be able to show full pictures of it, because it'll prove how mentally invested you are in this type of rider... it'll prove you are this type of rider. Heck, anyone whose been to your blog even once knows that's the case anyway (Gnat Likes Bikes).

The singlespeed bros -- Wills, Mike and Bonsall -- had super strong rides too. Bonsall in particular was just killin' it on several occasions during the ride, most of the time on the steepest climbs. It was awesome having half the ride be homies from Lincoln as well. Major props to both of you guys -- killin' 40s, then killin' it on the climbs -- impressivo.

Dave Pals rode his sweet Salsa Casseroll, and even though its tire clearance is generous for a road bike, it's still a road bike. As a result, he ended up walking a couple of the B-road sections, but he kept a big smile on his face the entire time, and I never heard a single complaint come out of his mouth. And at the end of the day, he was still rollin' strong. Way to go brother.

Thanks to Guitar Ted for taking the time to put together an awesome course for us, and for sponsoring me during the ride when I completely forgot my wallet as we pulled out of camp! You totally saved my butt on that one, good buddy. I really appreciate it, and will not forget the favor.

After the ride, Jeff, MW, G-Ted and I rolled to La Porte City for some pizza, and then I drove back to my sister- and brother-in-law's in Des Moines (where Laura was staying) through one of the most amazing lightning storms I've ever witnessed. There were multiple ground strikes within what had to be a one mile radius of my car -- incredible! There were sparks and webs of lightning the likes of which I've never seen before. It was making the radio in our Subaru do crazy things... It was a fitting end to what was a positively electric day.

Links to other sites likely to be covering the GTDRI:


Oliver said...

Sounds like a great time, MG. I'm anxious to see what Salsa is brewing as I was just pondering getting a full on touring setup and doing some extended cycling camping this fall. I was leaning heavily towards the LHT Complete but now I might have to wait...

I need to get out and do more rides with you guys. A few friends and I did a century last weekend to Beatrice and back and I managed to wreck my Mamasita nicely :( Pretty bummed and still healing, but I should be good soon. Good times.

MG said...

Thanks for the note Oliver. Sorry to hear about your wreck and the damage to your Mamasita, but I'm glad to hear you're healing up.

Talk to you soon, my friend.

Guitar Ted said...

Thanks for swinging up my way for the ride, MG. You were awesome too, and your, shall I say, "cycling antics" were fun to watch. It's so cool to see someone have the joy for cycling that you obviously do.

And the "sponsorship"? Fahgeddaboudit! I'd gladly spot you anytime you need it.

That rig Jason was riding was just too good! It's just uncanny how the Salsa Crew nails it on the head lately with their projects.

But the cool thing was seeing Jason and you just kill that ride. Jason had nothing to worry about with that one!

Take care and thanks again!

Cornbread said...

Man, I'm bummed I missed it. Looking forward to makin' it next year.

GNAT said...

MG, great ride and as always, great write up. Our rides don't come often enough. Had a blast. Thanks for pulling me along throughout the ride. What a sweet ride.

Oliver, I don't know you but it sounds like I should. Too bad on the Mamasita. I can assure you, you will want to wait.

'til next time.

D.P. said...

Love the first picnic table pic w/ the OJ and 2 flasks of Whiskey.

"Breakfast of Gravel Grindin World Champ-eens"

Great to see you again!

MG said...

Thanks for all your comments guys...

Guitar Ted -- You're such a great force in the cycling world. Thank you so much for your kind words. It's easy to love riding bikes when 1) I've got awesome friends to ride with like you guys, and 2) it's just riding bikes. Riding bikes is FUN! I can't imagine anything I'd rather do!

And I have to concur with you about that new Salsa Jason was riding too -- it's dialed. I can't wait to get a ride on one myself. The hard part is going to be figuring out how I'm going to pay for the build-up of all these new bikes I want to build, because now I've not only got a new F/S 29er I want to build (the Big Mama), but there's also now a new big-wheel long-haul touring bike in my future too, and man, what a bike it's gonna' be!

Cornbread, we definitely would have loved to have had you there, brother. Next year, we'll make it happen. I'm sure Kris appreciated having you helping out with the State Games though. You made the right call...

And Gnat, I know for a fact that I wasn't "pulling you around throughout the ride," as you say I was. You had all the power you needed for yourself, my friend. Everyone who was on the ride knows what I'm talking about when I say that too. You're riding awesome, and it's always a great time when we get to pedal together. Thanks again for coming down. Please send along my thanks to Jen too. I know she made some sacrifices to make the weekend happen for you too...

And Dave, thanks for your comments too. I too love that breakfast shot, with all the beer bottles and whiskey flasks out and accounted for. Looks like we were partyin' like rock stars... and we were. It was the best of times, and it wouldn't have been the same without you there, my friend.

Thanks again guys,

Taugimba said...

Good times riding gravel out there in Iowa. Enjoyed the write-up and pics. Looking forward to riding some Lincoln gravel.

MG said...

Right on. Thanks for finding my blog Mike, and for coming out and riding with us last Saturday. It was great to have you and your sweet green IRD on the ride.

Hope to be able to hook up with you out in your neck of the woods later this summer when Laura and I come out for a few days of R&R. I'll get a hold of you when we figure out exactly when that's gonna' be.

Thanks again,

MG said...

... and definitely get a hold of me if you're coming to Lincoln, Mike. You're always welcome to stay with us when you're in town!