The iGranFondo is a timed ride (but not a race! haha). The organizers put together three routes - the Fondo, a 30-mi jaunt that began and ended in Sioux City; the Medio, a 60-mi ride from Sioux City to Sioux Center; and the Gran, the 100+ mile ride, which followed the first half of the 60 mile route before detouring on a 40-mi loop back through Sioux City and then finishing on the second half of the Medio route.
Through the wonders of social media, I had previously made a friend with another avid cyclist from Omaha, Krissy (or @FutureMrsChaps as she's known on Twitter) and we decided to ride the iGranFondo together. We rode as Team Stomach of Anger (a cycling-themed t-shirt company that also had a cool jersey we both owned). Like me, she was also riding the the whole week of RAGBRAI. (Her tales from RAGBRAI can be found over on her Team Uffda blog. She and her family, riding in her grandfather's memory, were using RAGBRAI to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association. You can donate to this great cause by clicking on the link on the Team Uffda blog site.)
|Team Stomach of Anger is ready to conquor the Century Ride!|
Unlike RAGBRAI, where riders get up and go whenever they want, the iGranFondo has a scheduled mass start. It was kind of cool, being escorted by the police for a few mile with a rolling "neutral start" from Riverside Park to Stone State Park where the ride would officially begin.
|Let's Do This!|
After a rapid descent (no one was sticking to the 20 mph max recommended), but they weren't flying all out either, we turned north to ride 16 miles to Westfield. After a quick stop at Hummers (yes, a listed "unofficial" stop) so I could do some carbo reloading, we rode east for 13 miles, passing the Medio route turn off. Krissy and I were having a real solid ride those first couple of hours.
Then we turned south, back towards Sioux City ... and into the wind. It was a solid hour of riding into a headwind. That kind of effort can be brutal and we made our second stop of the day. Again, at an "unofficial" stop, Mike's Saloon on the outskirts of the city. More carbs (but good carbs!) for me.
As we rode south, we passed a handful of riders all heading north, on their way to Sioux Center for the start of RAGBRAI. Most were self-supporting - hauling their gear in bags on the bike and/or a trailer. A few were on their way to meet their team vehicle. In Mike's we chatted with three guys from Oklahoma who were riding up. Two were "virgins." We wished them well and took off.
The stop couldn't have been better timed for Krissy. She was about to bonk going into that headwind. That's a great thing about having a riding partner - you have someone to watch out for you.
|Feeling good early in the ride and hammering out the miles|
The route was quite hilly - about 3,000 total feet of climbing. (For reference, that is about half-way up from sea level to Denver, CO.) Most of the hills were rollers - where you are literally going up and down for miles. It wears on your legs. SHUT UP LEGS! We have miles to go yet.
|This may have been the only stretch of flat road we rode all day.|
And, when I saw a water tower in the distance, like an oasis, I was sure that I was almost done. Just get to the tower and you'll be in town. Just a little further. C'mon! Not much longer. There! WAIT! WHAT?!? the towers were for an agri-business.
We were starting to see RAGBRAI riders. We asked how much further. When we were told 7 more miles, I came to a stop. I got off my bike. Took off my cleats. Drank some water. Ugh. After a couple minutes, I pulled myself together and pressed on. I caught back up to Krissy (actually, she was waiting for me up ahead) and we pushed on.
We finally made it. 6 hours and 38 minutes of ride time later. 107 miles covered. 3000 feet of vertical climbed. We crossed the timing pad. We weren't last, but we certainly weren't first (that was someone who finished in a little more than 4 hours!). But we finished! We were handed a nice medal to honor our efforts.
|WE DID IT!|
What a way to start the week! I must've been nuts! (And I can't wait for next year!)
|Drained after 107 miles of hills, wind, and work. (Not quite the same enthusiasm as before the ride.)|