Cancelling the ride probably seemed like a logical choice, but I know that gravel riders are a special breed, and I just wasn't willing to pull the plug on the event. My registration crew arrived bright and early at Keggers prepared to greet anyone crazy enough to tackle the distance and the opposing weather. And three riders did end up showing up. Geoffrey Harding and Aaron Smith, both previous Grumpy Grind participants, drove in from Chicago to ride. Local rider Jim McPherson, also chose to test his mettle against the distance and the elements. I honestly didn't think anybody would show up, so three riders exceeded my expected number of participants.
At an intersection around mile 20, Jim stopped to talk to me and explained that his gloves were already soaked through and he was pretty sure there was no way to get warmth back in his hands if he continued on. He was fortunate to only live about 8 miles from that point of the course, so he made the smart decision and decided to call it a day.
I waited in anticipation for Aaron and Geoffrey at another intersection at around mile 28. At this point, my car temperature gauge read 33 degrees and giant snowflakes were dumping from the sky. It was beautiful to see, but not beautiful conditions to ride in. After waiting for what seemed like a reasonable amount of time, I decided to turn my car around and go back to check on the riders. But first I had to get out and scrape snow and ice off my car windows. It had snowed that much in a short amount of time!
After backtracking, I ran into the two riders a couple of miles back. They were shivering and miserable looking. They had decided to pull the plug on the ride and were trying to figure out the quickest route back to warm civilization. I felt bad that I was only in my little car, without bike racks, so I couldn't just throw them in and get them back to town. But I did lead them to a Casey's General Store that was about 5 miles down the road in Milledgeville. The Grumpy Grind 7 officially came to an end at this point. No finishers, but nobody lost or hurt either. Mother Nature had won this years ride.
As I rider I understand that the weather can always be the "X" factor in any cycling event. It is frustrating to put time and energy into an event without having the event play out, but that is the risk that always goes into any cycling event. And with the weather being what it was, I'm just glad nobody put their body in any physical harm by choosing to ride beyond what was safe in such conditions.
Without doing much advertising or trying to become frivolous, the Grumpy Grind has grown to have a very positive reputation through mainly word of mouth and repeat riders from the past. This year I once again had t-shirts and glasses created to hand out to finishers. Rather than handing these unused items out as X-mas, birthday, and wedding gifts to all my friends, I would like to offer these items for sale to help go toward a good cause that is cycling related. I have some ideas that are in the works for this, so please check back in a couple of days to see pictures of the swag that you can purchase, and read about the good cause that your donations will be going towards.