Like Old Times

In my youth I used to galavant quite a bit. I stick closer to home now and I like it. This past weekend was a good reminder why. I went up to Decorah with Kenny Lefler and Ira Ryan so I could watch them take off on a 325 mile gravel ride and then go back to bed. My plan was to wake up at a sensible hour and eat a sensible breakfast before visiting some of my old haunts and friends and riding the amazing trails of Decorah. WRONG!

We got to Decorah just before the big meeting and had a beer. Then we went to the meeting and I, not facing a 4 am start time, had a few more. I saw some folks I had not seen since the first Trans-Iowa and met some people from Ames and it was all in all a good and fine time. Ira was a celebrity. We went and ate at Mabe’s Pizza and were back to the hotel for sleep.

The alarm was set for 2:45am and it would have worked fine but for Kennys heartrate monitor going off at 1:47 am. Ira was up like a shot! False alarm, back to try and sleep. Didn’t really work. When we finally got up the fellers readied themselves while I stared at the wall in a stupor of sorts… We rolled to the start line that was where the first race had finished. Lots of folks getting their bikes all ready and buttering their shorts and such. There were some cool set ups, soooo many singlespeeds. Why oh why?

I wandered around and chatted with a few folks and at 4 am sharp they rolled out. I realized a dream when I yelled “SUCKERS” at the plucky mob as it left. Tee-hee. Back to the hotel to sleep. Up at 7:30 for a shower and some Grumpy Old Men watching. I was about ready to load up the truck and go get some breakfast when my phone rang. It was Kenny. He had been attacked by an Iowa alligator and needed an emergency evac! I loaded the truck fast as I could and drove to Postville to get him. Met Dave Nice in the parking lot of the Caseys, he is a nice guy for sure. I made up that business about the alligator as you probably guessed. Kenny hurt his back on a twisty gravel descent in the dark trying to not fly off the road and pressed on for 40 miles before deciding he had gone far enough. Bummer.

We drove back to Decorah and were in before hotel check out so Kenny got a shower and I watched some of Grumpier Old Men! What a morning. We checked out and went downtown. I took us to Oneota Cycles which is owned and operated by my old and good friend Deke. It was great to see him, he is a great guy and his shop is awesome! He showed me the route the TT would run on Sunday and gave me a map. Kenny got some beer out of the fridge and Deke told us to be sure and come back later as they were planning on tapping a keg out back and grilling some food. This is why I love Decorah!

I went out for my pre ride of the TT course and was joined for a bit by Jamie from North Liberty. Her fiance, Cully Todd, was riding the transiowa so she was stuck in town like me. We were both a bit stunned by the first climb, it is a brute! We made it up and were doing some of the technical fun stuff when she got an evac call from Cully, his knees were bothering him. So off she went and I rode alone. I have ridden mountain bikes many times in Decorah and even my singlespeed once and I knew the trails were brutal but I was still a bit shocked. To make matters worse my good friend Ralph had told me to run a 2 to 1 ratio and it was WAY too tall for me. I was suffering. Luckily I had brought another cog to gear it down. I rode for a long while, lost the course once and had the classic “I think I have ridden this trail before” moment and finally found my way out.

Went back to the shop to swap the cog and then it was on to drinking with Kenny. Many of you, my loyal readers, do not know Kenny and I will tell you that he can and does drink a lot. I do not. Ira’s dad Tom drove up to watch Ira finish (hopefully) and Doug Etel whose last name I have no idea how to spell came up also with his dog Tupelo. Good times. I paced myself well on the drinking, but still felt a bit rough by the time we went back to the bike shop. All day long we kept saying “he’s still riding” and it was true, Ira was. So were lots of other folks of course, but we were focusing on Ira defending his title.

Back at the shop there were even more folks around and Ron Moffit had come down from Rochester. It was great to see him, so many good folks riding bikes up in Decorah! Kenny and I hung around until 11pm and then drove out to sleep at the finish line and wait for Ira. It was a great night to sleep outside and we did until Ira woke us up at 5am. He was victorious! 325 miles in 25 hours and the second placed rider came in just 10 minutes later. Ira said the distance was off and his computer was well over 340 miles. Ouch.

We gave him a beer (his request) and the second place rider, too and listened to some stories. An epic race to be sure. Ira’s dad actually missed him at the finish by a few minutes but still got to give him a big hug before he finished his beer. Then he took him back to the hotel for shower and sleep. Kenny and I hung around until the 3rd and 4th riders came in and then we rolled.

Breakfast was found at a nice Decorah diner where the farmers looked at us sideways and the coffee came in small mugs. We went over to the TT area and I got checked in to race. Warmed up. Saw Helping Friendly Book who is back from Colorado and talked with him for a bit and that was great. I also got to catch up with an old friend from Ames who I had not seen since the awards at transiowa one. Good times but they ended.

I was the second rider to start. Ron Moffit held me up and sent me off. It was soooo hard! Deke was up the hill a bit and when I failed to climb as far on my geared down bike as I had on my geared up bike and jumped off the bike in a super sloppy fashion he was nice enough to yell “nice dismount” at me sincerely. Thanks Deke! I ran the first climb and rode and rode and was really tired and by the second climb I could only run half or less before I exploded. I started walking. This race is a TT so riders are started at 1 minute intervals and I knew I was going to be passed soon. I got up that climb and had a good section of riding then, but I could tell my handling was sucking. I kept on keeping on and had a few good moments when I felt I rode an obstical well or cleaned a difficult climb but for every good moment I had 10-20 bad ones. I crashed just before the flat and fast mile to the finish to wrap a bow around the race and hammered in as fast as my little gear would carry me. As soon as I finished my companions congratulated me and then told me to get in the car, we were heading to Iowa City to see the Ol Cap criterium.

I had a sponge bath and changed clothes, filled a couple of water bottles and ate a piece of complimentary cheese that was provided for all the racers! We were out of there 15 minutes after I finished. This was turning into a rough weekend. The drive was nice, Ira telling stories of his epic race, Kenny ranting on assorted topics and me whining about how hard mountain bike racing is.

We made it back and Cody came down to see us! Hooray for Cody! The weather was wonderful and there were lots of folks to see and talk to so it was an eventful afternoon. The racing was fast and furious and made me really glad I don’t do that kind of thing anymore. Such a dedication it takes! I am forgetting and omitting lots but I need to go to bed, I will add some pictures to this and link some stuff and what not but that is the weekend in a really big nutshell made of 1’s and 0’s on a blog.

I’ll be back soon!


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    excellent recount of a epic weekend colonel. soooo rad to kick it with you and kenny all weekend. let me know if you ever want a 24hr mtn bike partner. we could bitch about how hard it is together.

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