Saturday, June 13, 2009

Country Roads, Take Me Home...

Having just spent the week at the factory, checking samples, approving colors and generally being a thorn in people's sides, I'm relaxing in the country at my parent's place. The pace is slow, the weather is fine, and I've got a bike with me. So why not go 'splore the backwoods? Loaded up my Ipod, pumped up the knobbies, and off I went.

Don't get roads like THIS in Vancouver...

With a little Townes Van Zandt playing, I went, over hill and dale. Makes me wonder: why would anyone ride a proper road bike around here? There are scads of them around, "big city folk", who come down to the Townships to pose down in their finest lycra, wailing around in a peloton like it's a Tuesday night crit. People. This is the Townships. Chill out. I prefer a more sedate tour on my 'cross bike, and should I see some old dirt lane through a field, I'll head down it just to see where it goes. Like this. It lead nowhere... But at least I rode through cow shit, so got that going for me...

I soon ran out of pavement, and the best part of the ride started. You see, around here the "dirt" roads get so hammered that you may as well be on ashphalt. The stuff is rock hard. Proof? I was holding 32km/h with 35c knobbies without effort. And if you think that's nothing, CLEARLY you have no idea what kind of fitness it takes to be a product manager.

Ok. So I was breathing a little bit hard. But hey, that was uphill. All this dirt road riding has kinda gotten me somewhat interested in giving the Trans Iowa a go. What is the TI? Well, glad you asked. Straight from their site:

The technical hard data on this event barely scratches the surface of what takes place out there during a Trans Iowa, but it is important to realize what the challenge is that is faced by anyone that pulls up behind “The Dirty Blue Box” at 4am on Saturday morning. Trans Iowa V5 was a 314 mile long modified loop course run out of and back in to Williamsburg, Iowa. Along the way each rider had to navigate themselves using cue cards provided at the start and at each checkpoint for the following sector of the loop. No one knew where they were going until the evening before when they received the cues for the first 40 miles in to check point #1 at Washington, Iowa.The course must be completed within 34 hours and each checkpoint has time cutoffs. Riders often do not have time for anything other than a quick stop to refuel or exchange clothing layers. Checkpoints are at convenience stores, and convenience stores are on the route, but the riders must use their own judgment to resupply or not. No services are supplied by the race promoters.

The roads are mostly crushed limestone and are dotted with sections called “B-Maintenance” roads that are usually nothing more than a dirt slot graded into Iowa’s rich soil. Hills and flats intermix to create a mosaic of pain that many riders find not only a great challenge, but a surprising and intoxicating mix.

Last year's winner took 25hrs to complete the course. DFL? 33:45. Ouch. Ok, maybe we just need a shortened version here, call it the Trans Townships.

Pics from TI 2007: HERE

Anyhow, I digress. So I keep riding past all the old haunts.

Ye Olde Swimming Hole

Yes, Knowlton is old. "Died 1880, aged 60"

Clean livin'

So 40km later, a little thirsty, a little tired, and a little covered in dust and cow shit, I end my cross country adventure for today. With any luck, more tomorrow.

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