|My ride started a little earlier and a little further away. AM sunrise over the High Trestle Trail|
I spoke with Mrs. Guitar Ted earlier in March and we decided together that going down to stay overnight near to the event would be fun. It would also make a super early, in the dark, two hour drive on the day of the race unnecessary for me. Winning.
We arrived Friday night, had a great family meal together, and I worked out with Mrs. Guitar Ted and then watched my kids play in the pool area before knocking off for the evening. Sleep was so-so, but when I awoke, I had breakfast with my wife and kitted up for a 14+ mile ride to the event's start. I took the High Trestle Trail out of Ankeny, Iowa which cuts across country diagonally, saving me some distance over going up on gravel roads. It was brisk, about 34°, but the winds were light and the day looked to be a really good one in terms of the weather.
|Out in the open country on the High Trestle Trail headed to the start of the Gents Race|
|L-R: Event organizer, Rob Versteegh, Teammate Steve and his wife, "K-Corn" who replaced D-Corn|
We rode the same course as last year minus the excessive, mighty wind, and the roads were smooth and fast. Teams could be spotted up the road in clusters, unlike last year when the wind shredded teams and there were bikes and bodies all over the road less than a mile into the course. We were not having any of that this time with winds being a non-factor, really. It stayed that way all day as well.
It seems that every year we have a teammate that has difficulty. We also seem to have a team that leaves no one behind as well. If one is slow, we adjust our speeds accordingly, and if we all feel good, we speed along at a good clip. All the above happened Saturday, but it didn't look good after about ten miles into it.
|Bob leading us out. The roads are sandy, not unlike the Gravel Worlds course, in this part of the state of Iowa.|
It is no secret that Sam has recently been struggling with his health. He wasn't always in such a pickle though. Back when he was piling on hundreds and thousands of miles on his bicycle I couldn't keep up with him. His "motor" was tuned and he could ride away from anyone on the team the first year we did the Gents Race. However; Sam's profession of being a restaurant owner and chef makes it difficult for him not to overindulge. You can read his own words on the subject here. Warning- It is a highly personal read and the language reflects this. He has recently turned the corner on his health, but it took him longer than 30 days to get where he was and it will take longer than that by far to get back to where he used to be. It happens and his struggles are not unfamiliar to many of us.
|Sam up ahead trying not to get mowed down by a huge farm implement of doom.|
I gave him a hug as we rode and encouraged him in the best way I knew how. Sam kept riding....
We were a ways behind the remainder of the team. I figured Sam would want to say something to them and would hang on until either they stopped to wait up or, in what seemed like an unlikely event, we caught back up. Meanwhile Sam kept riding........
Besides the food business Sam is a musician. He has a "band" and writes music, records, and performs. So, he and I have the guitar thing in common. I started talking about guitars and asked Sam about his stuff. He got pretty animated, was talking with no difficulty, and he kept riding........
Now, I am not taking credit for anything, but by this time I realized that there was a greater than 50% chance Sam would actually make the checkpoint, at the minimum. Then I also noted that Bob and the tandem team of Steve and K-Corn were dialing it back a bit, or so it seemed. Maybe we were actually catching them up? Whatever the way it really was, all I knew was that we were all back together again as a team. And Sam kept riding.........
|Barns for Jason- Renegade Gents version|
Indeed he did. I took it as a good sign that he would be going the distance, but I was ready to allow him to quit as well. That said, he looked a lot better, the sweating receded, or seemed to, and Sam was able to put in short bursts of acceleration which was encouraging. And we kept riding......
|Mandatory "Safety Stop" after the checkpoint stop. Yes- K-Corn wore the beard the entire ride!|
Bob always brings beer so we had some cans of Budweiser and PBR along with some things we had to eat. I had two of my pemmican bars and a bit of almond butter along with a pork chop that Bob brought. Just the meat, no sandwich here! After we passed around a flask of whiskey it was back on the bikes. Sam was coming along too!
I think the team had some inkling by this point that we were not going to be breaking any records for speed on this ride and Bob was saying we should stop twice more in the next 30 miles to break it up. Ten miles, then ten more miles, then finish it up. We all agreed to this and we headed down the road. Sam was doing great, and we formed up a nice pace line in which we were carrying a pretty decent speed. The tandem team of Steve and K-Corn did the leading. We were having fun and riding. What a big surprise to me that was. Especially after what I feared would be another sad day, especially for Sam. I was so glad it was working out after all.
|In the "choo-choo train" before the carnage happened.|
The team immediately stopped and we all lent a hand where we could. I played the part of "bike shop stand" holding Sam's Warbird up so the others could do the work. Sam dug out another tube, Steve got a pump that was better than Sam's while Bob helped pull the old tube out. There seemed to be no concern for what caused the flat, and that concerned me. Steve and Bob swept the tire and didn't find anything, so they proceeded to get it all back together and we were back riding again.
So, that went well, I guess, and now we were gaining on some straggler teams and passing people. It was fun, and all the while, Sam was doing fantastic. Then the miles were winding down, I could see the finishing town of Slater come into view. We crossed the pavement which led into town and across my path I took into town earlier that morning. The last turn North now. We were three miles from getting it done as a team. I thought earlier it would never happen. Then......
|Ya see that yellowish cord on the tire? Yeah........that's not a good thing!|
|Right across this field from where Sam's tire failed was where the finish was.|
It was a great day to be out on the bike. I stayed at the finish line area and chatted with many folks. I sat with Steve and Kathy, (K-Corn, y'all!), and had a beer with them until Mrs. Guitar Ted fetched me and we left for home. More great Gents race memories, and I hope there will be more to come.
Thank You: My teammates, Bob, Steve, "K-Corn" (you were awesome and I enjoyed riding with you!), and of course, Sam. Awesome job Sam! Thank you to the organizers of the Gents Race, the Nite Hawk, and anyone else involved in putting on the Renegade Gents Race 7.0. Thank you to my wife and family for joining me on this trip.