Thanks to Bob and the crew at the Cumming Tap in Cumming, IA for hosting the 2010 CIRREM 100K.
The 2010 race season is off and running and I decided that, despite the wicked chest cold I've been suffering through for more than two weeks, it was worth the drive to central Iowa for the CIRREM 100K gravel grinder. Race promoter and honch pedaler, Kent Carlson had personally invited me to participate and I wasn't going to be a no-show. My lovely wife and I are always game to hang with our nieces and Laura's sister, too, so it wasn't hard to talk her into making the trip with me. So even though I'm still hacking something fierce, I not only made the call to race, I decided to do it on my singlespeed. It is the bike with fenders, and I knew those would come in handy later in the day, and it is also the easiest bike to clean when it gets really messy (no derailleurs, cables or cassette to have to clean around). So, SS it was.
Which, in retrospect, was probably a good call... It made the race more of a "social ride" for me, because I've only been on two rides in the past two weeks, I've gotta' be honest. I've been really sick... So I don't have a lot of juice. But the good news is the singlespeed was just what I needed. It kicked my butt and made me humble. By the end of the day, as my good friend Dave Pals and I rode in together, I was totally worked. Fully done. I'd given it all...
That said, I still took time to have fun out on the course. I met some new people, including Rich Hendricks from Duluth, who said he knows my new Salsa Cycles Teammate Tim "Eki" Ek well, and was himself riding strong. In fact Rich (I think jokingly) asked me to "tell Eki next time you talk to him that it was me pulling his butt all over Duluth yesterday." But then the conversation turned to Charlie Farrow and TransIowa, and I kinda' tucked that little nugget away until I got a Google alert yesterday on my name (which is easy to do -- when your name is Matt Gersib, everything that appears online is your own). Rich had mentioned our conversation about Charlie in the race report on his blog, and Eki commented on it... And I recalled his comment about the whole "pulling his butt around."
Funny, because these awesome posts about Eki's experience at TransIowa last year, where he finished second to Salsa's own Joe Meiser, just got posted earlier today on the Salsa Amigo's blog. You definitely want to check those out. They're long, but well worth the time to read. Eki's one heck of a bicycle racer and a damn fine writer too... But I digress.
The fun also included stopping to have a beer at the midway point of the race, which ended up being about a 35 minute stop. I'd been riding with a variety of fast guys up to that point, pulling up to the midway with Dennis Grelk, himself a solid hammer. He was getting stronger. I was on the other end of the curve for the day. A beer seemed like a good call.
It was at that point that my friend Scott Sumpter rolled up. He's the evil genius behind BikeIowa.com and one heck of a fun guy to spend just about any length of time with. We proceeded to down one of Budweiser's best, chat up just about everyone we could at the midway, which gave Dave Pals time to get his stuff in order too, and were off again. We even had not one, but two dogs running with us... And that's why I love gravel. More fun for your fun buyin' dollar.
Soon the hills got big and my smile got erased. I'll put it this way: I was running a wheelset with XT hubs that are 2 seasons old. They've never had any issues with axle locknuts coming loose to this point, but Saturday, I pedaled hard enough on my singlespeed on a gravel road climb to loosen the hub at the cone on the drive side. Damn.
I also had to walk one climb... (the cemetery climb) but I'm pretty sure I made everything else. Not fast mind you, but I rode 'em. Maybe I'm sheltering my memory from something and walked another climb? It seems like there might've been another, but I can't put my finger on where it would have been.
Anyway, I ended up rolling back into the Cumming Tap with Dave Pals, in a tie for about 47th overall, if memory serves. I'm not even going to go out and double check it, because if it was 47th or 48th, does it matter? Of course it doesn't. I had fun. I only hurt myself in a good way and it'll make me stronger in a couple of weeks. All good things.
I was riding my beautiful green '07 Salsa El Mariachi singlespeed because I'm just getting started building my new Salsa Vaya up. If it had been a little cleaner of a day, I would have rolled on the Chili Con Crosso, sans fenders. It would definitely have been faster, but I would have gotten much dirtier. When I get the Vaya built, that'll be the cool thing, I'll be able to easily run fenders and be fast. Cool... Anyway, thank you very much to the folks at Salsa Cycles for their support this season.
Also, thanks to Cycle Works in Lincoln, NE. I'm in the process of building up several new Salsas and the parts and technical support I get at the shop level from Butch, Tony, Damon, Kris and everyone at Cycle Works is top-notch. Whether you go into the original CYcle Works at 27th and Vine or the new store at 70th and Pioneers, you'll get solid advice and awesome service.
Finally, I want to give a special thanks to my friend Rob at Oakley. Their eyewear is the best. If you tuned into the Olympics, that should have been abundantly clear. Their eyewear was on the faces of seemingly every athlete at the Games. There's a reason. They're the best. Check out the Jawbone for cycling this season. You won't be sorry.