I don't like to wake up at 4:45 am unless I am doing something fun. Dammit, gravel riding is fun! Loading the car was quick and efficient since Jim and I decided we pack EVERYTHING the night before. We each grab one bag, water, coffee, breakfast and are out the door. Bikes are loaded on top within a couple minutes and we set off on our almost 2 hr drive to Rocheport MO. Whoa, it's a small town. Think about 200 people, give or take. We landed the Subaru safely between a tree and a church (remember this). Registration was quick and easy and we got a sweet pint glass, perfect since I have more t-shirts than I know what to do with. I concentrated on what I was putting in my drop bag and what I would carry until mile 57. I brought everything I was taking on my DK mission. Whether I need it or not, it was going along. I had a pack filled with water, extra tube, extra Chamois Butt'r, extra snacks, wind jacket and only God knows at the bottom of the pack. Way overkill for the day I was going to have but necessary to pack along.
I put my number on and headed to the start. I grab a cue sheet which I am quickly told I "will not need" but I grab two anyway. I handed one to Jim and then realize I left my pack on the ground back at the car in front of the church. I ride back and find it exactly where I left it. Whew! I get back to the finish within a minute or two of starting and we roll out. I find out that we ride 6 miles on the Katy, no racing until we are off the Katy, and that the race is only 93 miles. WTF is it called the Hairy Hundred then? I can't answer that. I settle myself in for the century minus 7 miles.
I picked a great group of cyclists to roll out with, they held a great pace and one saved my ass about two miles in. Rolling 20 mph on the Katy threw up some rocks and sticks and one wedged in my derailleur. This could have ended my day if Nick Smith hadn't noticed and pulled it out. Thanks Nick! I saw the usual suspects but would not see them for long. Gravel rides are different adventures for everyone. Some are just killing it riding balls out and others are struggling doing what they can to keep rolling. It's a wide variety of folks who do this crazy shit.
|Great shot Nicole Stacy. Like my new kit?|
It's very early in the ride and the weather takes a turn. I was prepared for it to be about 72 since that is what the weather channel said. Wrong. It hits the HIGH 80"s. Wind was only supposed to be 10 mph or less. Wrong again. I would say those were easily 20 mph, plus at times, straight in your face. Two things that were going to change my day if I let them. It wasn't long into the ride and my "old lady bladder" needed some relief, gravel riding is very difficult when you have to pee. Jim and I are about a dozen miles in and I see the perfect spot. I must really have to go if I am getting undressed on the side of the road. A group of 15 or so pass me, about six girls, while I pee. Frustrating.
Without any warning Jim takes off like a rocket. I let him go and decide to reel him in, use him as my rabbit. That worked well until I passed him and I don't even know when I passed him. . Apparently he was off Butt'ring himself and I pedaled right passed him. I reached the first Casey store and asked Joe Perry if he had seen Jim pass. He said he thought he was behind me but I was sure he was ahead of so we disagreed and rode on together. Joe was riding his Kona Major One geared 38x18. I asked him what in the world he was doing here, this was not his kind of gig. He said he was wanting to do the Dirty Kanza in 2015. He came to the right place to talk DK.
The gravel roads were beautiful, except for all that FRESH gravel and that ankle deep stuff at the bridge. Those rocks suck the life outta me. But I love it and I will come back for more.
Joe and I reach the 57 mile bag drop around 1230, I think if I remember correctly. I plan on less then 5 minutes and back out. The restrooms were clean, the volunteer was awesome, and the water was cold. I told Joe to get started without me and he left a minute or two before me. The road up from the bag drop was a long paved hill that seemed to go on forever. My legs felt good so I charged after Joe. The wind and the heat had a small effect on my superior attitude. The sun was bright and hotter than expected and I was glad to have remembered to reapply sunscreen. I still hadn't seen Jim and was kind of worried but not really. He was on a tour of Casey's gas stations in search of the delicious Ice Cold Pabst. He would be just fine.
I could see Joe in the distance on the road portion but couldn't catch him. My derailleur had different ideas and wanted my to stay in the small ring. In the distance I could see a three man pack trying to close the gap to Joe and I . I needed to catch Joe quickly and convince him to work together through this wind. I finally get next to him and tell him "we have come to far to be passed now, time to put the hammer down". He gives me a look like he has no hammer and admits the wind is kicking the shit out of him. I can totally see it but tell him he is doing fine and "single speeders are strong and always have more pedal strokes than they think". I keep playing with my gears and MAGIC, I slip into the 46 ring where I will stay for the end of this ride. Joe hops on my wheel and off we go. The next few miles tick off and we only have one incident. A small blue truck is gunning its motor behind me and wants to pass. It's NOT safe as another car is coming at us and there is no shoulder. I close my eyes and brace/prepare myself for landing in a ditch as the blue truck slams on its brakes. A few minutes after my heart rate returns to normal we are able to discuss it. We both decide it was good Joe was there as a witness and I breathe a sigh or relief.
We finally reach the Katy and the three man train is nowhere in sight. At the start of the Katy we see two stopped and changing a flat. We have six miles to go, all flat Katy. The wind is still blowing in our faces but we manage a great pace to the finish. We were talking about beer and how good it was going to taste, that made us both pedal faster. According to Joe's Garmin we finished in 6:57:09! I will take it!
We finish and are visiting with Mickey and Melissa when Michelle comes over and places a fifth of Jack Daniels in my hand. I said "what is this for" and she said "you got second woman" and I think I said " get the fuck out of here, really". I stood there holding the bottle and letting it sink in. Holy shit! I got a podium.
I was about 30 minutes behind Michelle who took 1st.
This ride was very encouraging since Dirty Kanza is next weekend. Joe buys me a beer and we reminise about the day while I wait for Jim to finish. I wanted to get out of my sweaty kit as soon as possible but didn't want to miss Jim finish.
Let's just say I could have showered and changed while waiting but I didn't. Jim rolled in about ----- after me with a smile and a beer.
|Chatting with the hubby|
While he visited I went to change and get the car. I forgot where I put the keys so I slid my pack and JD bottle under the car to ride back to get the keys. I get the bikes and gear loaded and tell Jim it's time to go. As we are driving past the church I see my pack and JD bottle laying where I left it and three people heading towards it, one is barely 21 and very excited. I put the car in park in the middle of the street and hopped out to grab it. Karma or God? Glad I have both in my life.