Saturday, March 15, 2008


Paul Varnum and I took off for a sweet ride at 9:00 AM this morning. Paul planned on joining me for one lap of the 36 mile loop I had created. This loop ended up being a pretty good route as it took roughly three hours to complete given the conditions today.

Paul with a mouthful of the dozen donuts he brought along! This is a joke as anyone that knows Paul well knows he takes his health vey serious.

We took off with temps around 30-35 with a N changing to a NW wind at 15. You know me and wind! I can't stand it as I have stated many, many times, but then again that is part of cycling. We hit our first gravel road going south and were riding 14-15 with hardly pushing the pedals. We continued our way towards Boone County and were finding the fresh laid gravel was less than ideal! Fortunately, we only had a 5 mile trip directly into the wind and Paul pulled be through a tough uphill mile. I told Paul, "Man! I have forgotten how easy this is!" He probably didn't appreciate that!

We then hit a couple of miles of "scenic" miles. We concluded that a scenic gravel road in Iowa just needs a curve in it and it is considered scenic! If you have ridden Iowa gravel I am sure you can appreciate that statement!

We continued our miles and miles of bobbing and weaving all over the road like a couple of drunkards trying desperately to find a line. We could occasionally find one, but it would die out in 50 feet only to be riding in 2-3 inches of sand again. We eventually made it back to Paul's and I was really feeling good. Certainly a lot better than last week! I downed a Boost, which I swear by!, and I was off. About 8 miles later I made it home and warmed up some Casey's pizza (you regular readers will know how much I like pizza!). I was out the door within about 25 minutes and going for lap two.

This time I decided to ride the loop in the opposite direction. This was working great until I hit the north section! I was missing Paul pulling me along! %^) This started the 10 mile per hour sand pit ride! I have been dreaming of a sandy beach all winter, but this didn't quite fit the bill! The gravel was between 2-3 inches deep and was incredibly slow. Since my achilles have been hurting a bit I decided to spin and not mash so I was pretty slow. Once I turned west I quickly figured out the wind had turned to more of a northwesterly wind compared to when Paul and I were out. I even threw grass up in the air like I did in my golfing days just to prove it. I did take a couple of breaks in this section. Going up any incline at all and I was down to 8 mph. I thought, "I can run at a faster pace! This sucks!" But, my heart rate was probably in the 150's (guessing based on feel) so I just kept on spinning.

Finally, I turned south and had the wind pushing me again for 5 miles! I was cruising again at 12-14 depending on if I could find a line in the gravel. I wouldn't be surprised if I rode an extra mile or more just with all the weaving all over the road! I made my turn back to the east and it was confirmed that the wind was coming from the NW as I continued to get pushed home.

With about 7-8 miles to go this "park" is found. All I can say is it is very strange. I wonder if people actually came to see this back in the day?

A very nice final few miles got me home in 7 hours with 6:15 of riding time. Certainly not fast, but I got home feeling great. I never really got overly tired or bonkish feeling. I feel pretty good about the ride considering the amount of resting I have been doing with my foot. So, now I just need to rest up and see how my achilles feels over the next few days. I am sure they will be sore, but they felt pretty darn good during the ride so we will see!

The GRAID is on depending on the weather and the conditions!

Today's weapon of choice 2005 Ibex Alpine 550


Carney said...

Around Ames, "Scenic" can also mean: a hill, large tree, or creek....basically anything other than corn. Nice ride!

Huevos con Salsa said...

Where is that strange "park"?

Paul said...

Huevos, it is west of Ames about 4 miles or so on 195th. If you look at the map on the post from a few days ago it would be at mile 7 or so.

It certainly is odd that is for sure.

Mike Howard said...

Looked like nice training ride paul...Rest that achilles !

Travel Gravel said...

Paul, That sounds like a solid day of riding! That park is a hand made labor of love by this eccentric guy who, I think, lives in his car. He drives a red Eldorado with a white vinyl top, eats at Hy-Vee in Boone, and has been "green" since before it was even a buzzword. I spy a self portrait at 150th and X Avenue! Later! Travel Gravel!

Paul said...


Actually, he stopped by in his car when I took the picture. He was cutting down some limbs about a quarter of a mile down the road. We chatted for about 5 minutes or so. He seemed like a good guy.

When I saw this park I thought that someone had put in a tremendous amount of work into it, but I also wonder if it was the success the builder thought it would be.

And you are right about 150th and X. It is a great view from up there!

Neve_r_est said...

Keep riding Paul, this gravel's gotta dry out sometime....I hope!

Hope you get your achilles problem figured out, I've got a little hip twinge and knee thing going on to sort out myself.