My first Almanzo. The stories from the team from the last few years made it sound incredible so when the Facebook messages started flying this winter about sending in post cards I was in.
Again, thanks to the organizational powers of Facebook we all booked sites in the cute little Maple Springs campground. It was a great place to hang out with the team and share the positive energy of the coming ride. Jeff and Jody and the hospitality of BOB sure helped too.
The first 10 miles or so I spent chasing the V-train and Dallas. They were more confident in their bike handling skills and sneaking through places where I just didn't feel comfortable. I didn't want to be "that guy" who went down at the beginning of a group ride so I just sat up when I couldn't get through and hammered when I could. I was mildly concerned I was burning too many matches for this early in a ride.
The next 20 miles were a blur of beautiful rolling country side. Right about mile 30 we had our first taste of riding west. The forecast called for 8 mph winds. The app must have cut off the 2 that went in front of the 8. I got swallowed up by a fairly large group on that stretch and I latched onto the back. I was feeling pretty good about having a nice sized group going a nice pace to stick with.
Then at mile 32, I became "that guy".
I hopped on my bike and started soft pedaling again. Now I was super tentative on every downhill and corner. A couple of miles later I caught Dallas fighting some cramps walking up a hill. A short while later we came upon a farmers driveway where he had set out the hose for bikers to fill their bottles. I used it to wash off my wounds and Dallas helped me diagnose the rattle that had developed in my bike. Busted rear drive-side spoke. I had spare spokes with, but we were unable to remove the busted spoke and install a new one because of the plastic guard in the way. Dallas clipped the busted spoke for me and reinflated my tire. I am extremely grateful for his assistance. With my jacked shoulder there is no way I could have gotten my tire pumped up again.
Dallas towed me through Preston and on. In addition to my aching shoulder, the normal aches and pains of a long ride were starting to set in. Then we really started heading west into that headwind. I was not a happy camper. At mile 55 we rolled into the farm water stop. Dallas found me some ibuprofen and we caught up with Micah who had passed us while diagnosing my bike.
I told Dallas I was almost certainly going to drop at the campground. It was another 14 miles away and that sounded like an eternity. The three of us rolled out at the same time and Dallas jumped off the front. The 5 or 10 minutes off my bike helped and I felt better for a little while and out paced Micah. The country side turned absolutely beautiful at this point as we descended down into the Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park. Starting the climb out the other side I saw the cutest little campground ahead. It wasn't until I got to the entrance and saw Jody sitting there cheering that I realized it was OUR campground. I had G in map mode all day and was not watching my distance.
Jody told me Dallas was down in the camp site getting some pizza and donuts. I stood and ate my turkey/roasted red pepper hummus bagel sandwich and contemplated life. My arm hurt, my legs were tired, but giving up was nagging at me. I didn't think I was doing any additional damage. So long as I could sit and spin (standing and pedaling was a no go) I thought I could still tough it out. So I told Jody to let Dallas know I'd see him in a while since I was sure he would catch me and I took off up the hill for the remaining 33 miles.
The Banjo Brothers rest stop at about mile 76 was a welcome sight. I think I ate a dozen Oreo cookies and had half a can of Coke. Dallas caught me at this point and we rolled out together to finish thing. The river crossing was a fun little diversion and refreshing. Another couple of those over the course of the ride would have been nice.
Mile 90 brought Oriole Road. I knew it was coming. Turning that corner and looking up the hill, ouch. I had ridden every hill to this point though and I wasn't going to stop now. I'm happy to say I huffed and puffed my way up that beast. Dallas was drafting off of me walking, but dang it I wasn't getting off my bike.
The last ten miles were a blur of headwind and one more hill just for fun. Dallas and I rolled into Spring Valley together after almost nine hours in the country side. I got my painful handshake from Chris and we collapsed in the grass. For about 3 minutes before it started to sprinkle. Too cold and windy to sit in the rain. We headed back to the campground to trade war stories and eat chili in the comfort of BOB.
A great weekend with the CyclovaXC family. Thanks everyone!
After Ben Jonjak brought me to my knees with a back slap greeting on Sunday I did go in and get my shoulder checked out. No structural damage, but the ortho told me not to crash my bike. I'll be sore for a few weeks but should make a full recovery.