Yesterday I participated in the C.O.G. 100 Iowa Gravel Single Speed ride over in Grinnell, Iowa, hosted by Guitar Ted. I've done plenty of century rides, but this one was like non other. The rural gravel roads in Iowa were soft from spring time freeze/thaws, and even more soft from rains the evening before the ride. This made for some of the messiest gravel conditions I have ever intentionally ridden. The northwest winds in the 20mph range throughout the day only heightened the challenge of completing course within a 10 hour window (to be an "official" finisher). It was hard for me to imagine not being able to ride an 11 mph average to complete such an event, but the soft gravel and windy conditions took me to task. I ended up finishing with 15 minutes to spare. The entire day was a grind. The highlight of the ride was simply finishing.
I'm pleased to say that the roads in Illinois are in much better condition than those I experienced riding in Iowa yesterday. There are still some sections that being repaired from the rainy washouts we experienced in early March, but everything should be fine by the time the Grumpy Grind rolls around. The county road commissioners don't tend to lay down huge "chunky monkey" gravel rocks for repairs around our area. And the gravel seems to pack down well from being ridden on by local traffic. There is almost always a ride-able "sweet spot" on Illinois gravel.
Riding a hundred mile gravel ride yesterday made me reflect a little more on the challenge of riding 140 miles that I have imposed on those coming to ride this years Grumpy Grind route. With that in mind, here are my latest thoughts to share with those coming to ride.
* The start time for the GG7 will 8 a.m. sharp. This should allow most riders to finish before nightfall, but it will imperative that all riders should show up prepared with a headlight and taillight just in case they finish at dusk or in the dark.
* Keggers, the bar and grill where the start/finish is located, stops serving food at 10 p.m. on the weekend, so hopefully everyone will be finished by then and can enjoy some of their offerings. They have a pretty great menu. A 10 mph average should make that a doable time to finish.
* For those interested in tent camping or motor home camping, there is a campground about 1.5 miles from the starting location that I'm working with on allowing some early spring camping to be done at. I'll update that information when I get a confirmation on availability.
* As is tradition, the first 50 finishers will receive an official finishers whiskey tumbler.
* T-shirts with this years "Grateful Egg Skull" logo are in the works. They will be available for $10. Send me an email with a size to reserve one to be picked up on the day of the event. There may be a few extra made avialable, but I can only guarantee ones to those who contact me prior to April 15th (Tax Day!).
Twenty-three brave people have pre-registered so far, and I'm sure the numbers will steadily grow as the time grows near. Weekly updates will continue to be given up until April 27th.