Fortunately for the riders, the forecast was for warmer temps.... In the upper 70s / lower 80s! This didn't change much as the week progressed and the weather met the promise of the forecast. (If only the forecast talked about he winds!). I woke up to temps in the mid-50s and the skies were clear. It was a BEAUTIFUL day to ride a bicycle!
The Ironman Ride did not have a scheduled start time, just a window. Register and hit the roads between 6:30-9:30. There were four routes to choose from. Do one, or any combination. The cloverleaf layout worked great. I came to ride the Scandia Loop, which, at 52 miles, was the longest route. The others were a 28 mile Gateway Loop, a 26 mile Afton Loop and a 14 mile Afton Loop. Had I more time (and not needed 4 hours to drive home after I was done), I would have liked to have ridden more.
At registration, there were 3699 preregistered riders. There were A LOT of walk-ups too, no doubt thanks to the excellent weather. I suspect that, all told, there were over 5000 riders.
By the time I arrived at the fairgrouds and got registered, it was nearly 9:00. I was already an hour behind schedule. I met up with a guy named Matt who went the same high school I did. He was riding with his dad (who drove up from Dubuque to do the ride) and his brother. Matt had already completed the 14-mi loop. The four of us headed out. First thing I noticed was the wind. It was strong out of the south. Of course, the fact that for the first 20 miles or so we were heading north meant that the wind was a non-issue.
We arrived at the first rest stop, about 22 miles into the ride, about 1h20m later. We were moving along nicely at 17.6 mph. I felt great. Matt and I were ahead of his brother and dad by a few minutes. After a quick snack (energy gel and almonds) and topping off the water bottles, we headed back out, full of confidence.
Ahh, the sense of false security. The biggest challenge of the ride was in the second segment, the descent into Stillwater and the climb back out. Matt and I rode ahead again and took off downhill. Descending on 199th St was FUN! Trees all around as a wind block, a curvey road, and (of course) downhill. The descent continued after we turned on State 95. Matt and I got separated at this point and rode apart until we go to the second rest stop (at the 39 mi mark). There he waited for his brother and dad while I took off to finish my ride so I could get on the road to go home.
|Me and Matt|
Meanwhile, Matt went on to ride a full Century on Sunday, completing he short Afton Loop, Scandia, and Gateway. He must've picked a few extra miles at he end to be sure to reached that goal. Well done, Matt! *hat tip*
A few observations.
- It reminded me a lot of RAGBRAI - it was a more rural loop than the others, with rolling hills, and people of all ages, abilities, and body types riding. This wasn't something limited to the mostly 20-something club riders and racers. Hat Tip to those riders out there plugging away at this challenge!
- You can tell it's early in the season when the club riders haven't shaven their legs yet.
- The ride was, from what I saw, very well organized and supported. Matt reported that traffic into the fairgrounds was pretty congested and chaotic when he arrived early. They got that squared away by the time I arrived.
- Another rider came up to me and asked where I got the Drake U jersey. Another Bulldog!
- There were a handful of riders in RAGBRAI jerseys.
- I was pretty tired at the end of 52 miles and my legs were sore. I wonder how I'll feel in three weeks after the Arcadia ride (see my last post about that).
- I LOVE CYCLING!