Sunday, May 17, 2015

Crushing Gravel part 10: What does say about Almanzo conditions?

Starting line of Almanzo 100
photo courtesy of Spring ValleyTourism

The view from where I was--and my riding friend, Marc

I swear I haven't learned my lesson.  I still look at a week before events, then again 5 days, 3 days and 1 day prior.  Why do I do this to myself?  Who knows.  Maybe somewhere deep inside, I feel the need to freak myself out a bit.  Of course was calling for up to 80% chance of rain/thunderstorms and high wind.  Did I believe them?  You bet.  Although I'd like to consider myself an eternal optimist, I'll be honest, I'm not.  This is how events go down for me.  I plan and check everything within my power...then check again.  When it comes to things I can't control, I tend to think of the worst case scenario so when anything better happens, I'm always elated.  It's a disease...I know.  This is how became  One of my friends, Steve, who was with me at Almanzo had to make fun of me regarding what I was telling him *could* happen weather wise.

So...did it rain cats and dogs?  Did roofs get blown off farmhouses?  Did pigs fly?  Well, it did rain right before the race started and it did drizzle a bit during the event itself, but honestly, the conditions couldn't have been better and all that stupid worrying I did prior was worthless--but I was elated (heck, I joke a bit in my head that I could have shaved 15-30 mins. off my time if I had saved that energy for the ride).

Mike and Stu headed out on their third day of touring the Alexander course

Creek forging

Beautiful scenery, beautiful gravel conditions

Banjo Brothers Oasis

Steve welcoming me in with beer

Dan crushing his first Almanzo

This is my brief and somewhat discombobulated recall (in snippet form) of Almanzo Lives.

-Smartphones may be good for some things but they can't direct you out of Madison properly.  I think it took us three tries to get off the beltline.  "Shut up Siri!" was said more than once.

-Nick Cave makes perfect road trip music.

-Candy, pizza, beer (including shower beers and bed beers) make you stronger for gravel rides.

-Squeezing other rider's tires is widely accepted (even though I constantly joke and tell people "hands off").  I may not have completely bought into Jan's theory in Bicycle Quarterly, or Mike's strong suggestions to run my 33mm tires at 40lbs, but I did bring my tires down to 55lbs.  Baby steps guys...

-Who would have guessed gravel could be so pristine on a course which had 30-50 miles of freshies the past two years?  I swear this was some of the easiest gravel I've ever ridden--hence my faster finish time even though I spent WAY too much time at the Banjo Brothers oasis swilling Hamm's and eating oreos.

-Maybe I should have stopped to reapply chamois cream somewhere along the way since riding in damp shorts for over 100 miles isn't the nicest feeling.  To quote Dan "my nether regions are tender".

-Taking pee breaks while doing these events is 100% acceptable.  Peeing while still on the road and connected to the bike is not.  C'mon folks, stepping off the road isn't that difficult.

-Disposing of one's used gu packets on the road is worse than peeing while still on the road.  Although Steve's theory is that it must be the roadies with high psi in their tires--so much damn rattling they can't stick 'em in their pockets afterwards.

-It's always a blast chatting with folks for a few miles--finding out where they're from, realizing you have common connections (the bike world is way too small), and then parting ways on the hills only to meet up with them later down the road.  Leap frogging is part of the fun at these rides.

-Seeing folks you only ever see at other gravel events during the year is one of the cool things that makes you realize this is one giant family.

-I finally made it up the dreaded Oriele climb (I'd like to think my legs were stronger this year but I'm guessing it's just because the gravel didn't look like a riverbed).

-When you're really tired, and have had maybe one too many beers, the funniest things are said--or maybe they aren't that funny and it's all just situational.  Either way, I rarely laugh as hard as I do during gravel weekends.  Having really cool folks around you the whole time of course helps.

-I rarely want these weekends to end--this was just another example.  In fact even though I said this would be my last Almanzo, I may have been talked into doing another one with Dan.

Thanks to Steve and Dan for making this weekend what it was.  Thanks to Stu and Mike for knocking on our door and telling us about their adventures. Thanks to Marc for keeping me company on and off up to Forestville.  Thanks to all the cool guys from IL who hung out with us in the hotel hallway drinking beer with us while it poured rain outside. And thanks to Chris Skogen who started Almanzo and Spring Valley for taking it over.

My parting shot of the hotel room

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