The key to a century is a deadline. Mine was 230 pm. Not that I had to have 100 miles by then. I needed to have at least 82 by that time when Mary would be finished with her conference and we would ride the 18 miles together back home.
Another key to a century is adequate sleep the night before. We went to bed after midnight. The alarm went off at 345 am. Mary had to be there by 730 am and we would want breakfast. There was a moment that we almost just screw the breakfast in favor for more sleep but we got rolling anyway. Asses on bike seats about 10 minutes later than our Monday through Friday gig.
Also it is important to prep the bike before going to bed the night before. I did not. Failed to put the NiteRiders on. Failed to air up the tires. All that waited until the morning cutting into sleep and breakfast time. Worse yet, in my haste to mount the lights I ripped the rubber band that holds it to the handlebar. No uberlights today, just the wonderful AAs and headlamps which are generally good enough anyway. Time to send money off to NiteRider for a new set of bands. Fortunately, we still have the ones that work on our commuters.
Good weather is essential for a quality century. The rain stopped but the wind picked up. The wind was very strong from the northwest or the direction that we were heading. I just put my hands in the drops and kept my my head down. That's all about anyone can do except for switching to a recumbent. But once we got into the wood areas of the trail we had respite from the wind. The stretches from Mullets to Water Works Park, 3.5 miles and from Hickman Rd to Warrior Lane. And then a headwind all the way to my turn around point north of Panora.
As for the temperature, it was on the low side of perfect. That meant that all the warmth clothing could easily be shed and stowed away. Said warmth layers were gloves, headband and jacket. The first 2 items in my jersey pocket and the jacket in my Camelback sans water bladder. Also in the Camelback were a pump, tube, levers cash, meds and bike lock. I kepted a PowerBar in my jersey pocket.
Despite the wind we made it to Waukee Hy Vee with over an hour to spare. The Market Grille was ope so we enjoyed a meal before going to the middle school for her conference. Mary laughed as I stood at our table pulling all my stuff out of my pockets and stripping a layer or two but I felt an urge to organize and assess. Our waitress was friendly and efficient and obliviously had more sleep than we had. Mary had some sort of egg mess skillet thing with giant toast and I had a bagel with cheese and sausage. We shared her toast and I placed gravy on mine. Coffee and several glasses of water. Gravy instead of jelly. Not bad. Not sure what Mary ordered that required gravy but she did not use it.
Afterwards we did the quick jaunt to the middle school and parted ways. The luxury of a bicycle rack was present and there was one bike on it when we pulled up. From the school I took the local trail that hooks up with the Raccoon River Valley Trail at the intersection of Hickman Rd and Shottenkirk Chevy dealership. The RRVT would be my home for the next 60+ miles.
The decision on direction had to be made now. North or South Loop? Originally I planned to ride to Adel then go home. Then Redfield. But after looking at my bike log I saw that I could get 1000 miles for the month if I put a little effort into it. Thus a 70 mile day or a century. So then do I do the Loop? The North Loop was dismissed almost immediately. my desire to see Adel and Redfield prevailed plus the lack of wind protection form Waukee to Perry was the final strike. In 3.5 miles I'd be in the trees east of Adel and loving it. Time to grab the drops and put my head down. Surely the trail will be empty on such a cold and windy morning.
The trail was not. One group of 6 or 3 road bikes greeted me as I passed the trailhead. Early risers who must love to ride in the dark, the uberlit bikes in front and the guy without lights on the back. Then I kept seeing a red flasher in front of me way off in the distance. I caught up with the red flasher at Ortonville. Two guys who were to have started at 530 am from Water Works were stopped adjusting their bikes. Small world. Surly's with rear bags. We rode together and chatted. They were doing the loop hoping to get 100 miles in. I assured them that they would. But after we entered the canopy of fall foliage I had to stop and take a photo. It was so beautiful that I wished Mary was with me to see it and I knew that I picked the right direction.
Adel was Adel. Although an oasis on the trail I had no need for its services. As usual, I got stuck at the highway intersection by the slow parade of vehicles each perfectly timed to prevent me from crossing. The intersections for the most part were as bumpy as ever with large drop offs from the road to the trail. On a brighter note, Patrick's was open and gave me an idea for some future breakfast trip. Once out of that town the 8.5 miles to Redfield were completely enjoyable despite a few gravel intersections.
|Patriot Rock in Adel. For the veteran's post and painted by art students|
In Redfield the bikes that I was following split to the south to hit the Casey's. I stopped at the old depot and used the restroom. There is a now a charging station for phones and other electronics. Cords provided. I did not need them.
Heading north I was protected from the wind by the trees. The trail was completely covered with leaves. Beautiful sight despite the occasional stick or walnut. Found that my speed was better climbing than it was on the flat heading to Redfield until I hit open spots.
After Linden, the high point of the trail, I noticed that the surface is a bit rough. True, the concrete trail was not cracked or broken but it had settled and a thump thump between squares was noticeable by my 700x23s. Asphalt is smoother but falls apart much quicker. Sure, ride fatter tires.
Panora was reached at the 48.6 point in my ride. I truly had no desire to ride the loop. 11 miles to Herdon would be a slow painful ride in the wind. I decided to ride further north for a mile or two and turn back. It occurred to me that I should have 100 miles before reaching Confluence Brewery on the way home. It was their 3rd anniversary and I wanted a real reason to celebrate.
Panora is home to the Owl's Nest tavern. This is one of the few places where one can do the Busch Light Trifecta--enjoy that brew in all 3 forms, bottle, can and draft. There is a sidepath from the trailhead on highway 44 to downtown Panora on the same side of the road as that bar. Unfortunately for me the bar was closed at 10 am. I went to Subway instead and got food.
Now with the tail wind I thought I'd be able to rocket my way back. but the sun was out and in my face and the debris on the trail hid the sticks and other dangers. Still it was easier than heading north or west. Stopped at the depot in Redfield and found it open. Purchased a Gatorade from the woman and two daughters working concessions. They said I was their second customer. The wind, I thought, kept people home.
My speed picked up on the way home raising the dead average speed that was murdered by the headwind.. When I back to Waukee I had time to head northwest toward Dallas Center to ensure I had padded my miles sufficiently. I stopped at the memorial for the recumbent rider and then turned around and employed the jets. Damn, this was a fast stretch! 20+ without effort!
By 2:06 I was at the park near the school awaiting a text from Mary. Beat the deadline! This provided time to delete photos for more memory space or so I thought. Mary was out early and I met her at the school. Time to go home. 86 miles already.
She was hungry because her lunch was poor. Last week when we came up for the marching band competition we ate at Taco Johns who gave us a $2 off coupon as an apology for slow service. I suggested we use it now. Last week we asked for 2 medium drinks but got an upgrade to large since they were out of cups. exactly a week later they were still out of medium cups! Someone screwed up.
Something happened to her bike and the front tire was coming off and hitting the brake or fork. I let some air out to get the tire to seat properly. Later I used the pump to prevent a pinch flat. Glad I carried it with us. We had no desire to backtrack 2 miles to the fixtation at the Waukee trailhead.
The trip homeward was fast. We scared the crap out of two tri-bents with mirrors and they almost collided with each other when I announced our presence and desire to pass. It's not like zoomed and boomed them as we did adequately and politely slowed down for them. they were just too deep in their side by side conversation to check their 4 mirrors.
I hit the century mark shortly before the Art Center turn on the Bill Riley/Walnut Creek trail(s). Two city trucks were still there monitoring the sewer main break. 103 miles when we rolled into Confluence.
The 2 Hour One and Done
That's what I said, just a one and done and get home. The children were beginning to squawk. Dora had a party to attend and Timmy had a new phone to set up. His old one is on the bottom of the river. And he had a dinner date. Mary and I are experts at switching phones, the children are not. As stated, it was a one and done at Confluence. Mary had the Bridge Builder and I the Beaverdale Brick. We talked to Tom Jefferies while enjoying our bevies. Then we left. just one beer each.
When we hit the curve on the southeast corner of the lake we saw a girl on her back on the trail. 3 people seemed to be attending her. It was Cat Carr and Greg from Team De Kalb. "Stop for a cocktail!" And so we did at Timmy's expense. Honestly, I needed the Jager and Red Bull. It was a magic can of Red Bull because despite how many times it went around it got heavier. Cat told Greg that there was another can thus no need to continue dumping Jager in this one but Greg refused. Eventually the flask went around. And then everyone got a tall boy. Amy was ok, just a a few abrasions on her knee. But her rescue squad was questionable. Greg tripped over his own bike, tumbled and landed on his back WITHOUT spilling his beer. Amazing feat! A perfectly timed phone call from Timmy pulled us out as I finished my beer. "Sorry but reality calls."
Mary gave me the evil glare of wedded anger. "One and done lasted two hours!"
Timmy messed up the new phone. Took a half an hour to resolve the issue and get it going. He went out to eat while Mary fixed it. As for me, I opened a bottle of Yellow Tail Riesling and immediately regretted it. Terrible finish to a wonder day. Century complete and I still felt good and strong. We took the slow bikes to Mullets for dinner and then rode home. By 9 pm I was ready for bed. Energy totally gone. Big chunk of miles needed for the 1K October bit with fury. I slept well.