Summerset State Park singletrack - or more widely known as Banner Pits - was sort of high on my possible Sunday morning ride choice- as was the Iowa Spring Classic Gran Fondo Gravel Race. I had never done a Gran Fondo Race outside of the Renegade Gents Race which is a 5 person team event, so didn't really know what it was all about. In search of picking the best of either choice, I pulled into the parking lot at Summerset State Park and heard reports directly from CITA Trail Steward Ron Cooney that it needs more time to dry out. Enough said, and I was off to Cumming for the Gran Fondo.
In terms of my structured training, on tap for today was a scheduled 2 1/2 hour Zone 2/3/2 ride, so rather than grind that out on the mountain bike along the Summerset Trail, opting to head over to Cumming for the first race of the Iowa Spring Classic series would fill that bill quite nicely and jump start the legs for my trip to Utah on Monday. It's sort of a last minute, spur of the moment week long trip I threw together at 2 am the other night on a sleepless night so I could enjoy Spring Break mountain biking.
Back to the Spring Classic. This one was an all gravel ride which was to be 6 laps on a clockwise course to total up for a 34 mile ride involving hills, Texas Hills (wind), and Warren County gravel goodness.
I got registered, warmed up a bit, ate some granola bars, filled the water bottle and headed to the pre-race meet up. Brett Griggs told us to watch out for Ford F-250's flying over hills by riding to the right side of the road (good advice). We did a 3+ mile roll out to the starting line where I got some nice Zone 2 warm up.
The wind was howling out of the south with up to 40 mph gusts from the south, the gravel was in good shape, and I saw that I could have easily ridden my Specialized Roubaix. Oh well, the mountain bike with the fat 2.3 tires would have to suffice. Rain was threatening, but it never really came to fruition outside of a couple sprinkles before we began the race.
The smaller group known as the "A" group started, then the larger group known as the "B" group which I was racing took off. We were riding with the tailwind first, and the opening climb had my heart rate jump up to race numbers with a HR of 171. I was quite chilly and kept my jacket on which hardly anyone could understand why I wanted to be so warm. Except me. It felt good, so I kept it on for the entire race.
Photo Courtesy of Natalie Dickerson Rekemeyer
I passed a few on the opening climb and heard one guy mutter to me "Hey, we have to do this climb another 5 times!" which I was torn between replying "So?" or "You're right, I should pace myself a bit with all the laps we have to do." Instead, I kept silent and just motored on ahead. The legs felt good so I pushed it and hooked on with two fellow BikeIowa team members. Eventually, Dave Mable joined us and we worked together for lap 2. Jared Morford dropped off the group, and we stuck together off and on when we could for the first 4 laps. I didn't latch on against the wind a couple of times, but tucked down and rode straight into the wind watching my HR jump back up to 170-174 while heading south and climbing against the wind.
We had 8 corners, and the cross wind made me glad I was on the mountain bike at times as the wind could easily knock you off your line with a big gust. Here was one of the corners of the course...
Photo Courtesy of Natalie Dickerson Rekemeyer
Lap 4 had me pull away from Dave Mable and my fellow Bike Iowa Team member when I went to the front to take my turn at the pull and I guess overcooked it enough to drop them without knowing it at the time. No worries, I had to stop and pick up some more water from a bottle I had placed at the side of the road near the start area and they rolled by me asking if I was okay. Another team member, Kyle Sedore, came motoring by as he was a lap ahead of me in the A race. I caught back up to Dave and Tim, but saw their pace was slowing, so I passed both and decided to push it a bit harder for lap 5 and 6 since my legs were feeling good.
Going solo into the wind burned some matches for everyone, but I only felt one little twinge in the right leg of potential cramping in lap 5 and it was very slight. I was happy my training up to this point had left me in fairly decent shape for the day's effort. My HR was responding well in the 160 - 174 range on the hills and into the wind, but it would drop down into the 148-158 range going with the wind. I hammered all the hills on lap 6 to the 174-175 HR figuring it was a good work out - even though it was more effort than what my structured training called for to ride in Zone 2 and 3 today. It certainly was cooking me in a good way to prepare for some nice efforts later in the week in southern Utah.
I rolled across the line in something around 2:14 by my computer. A little chit chat was had before I decided I was ready to go home and eat lunch. I told Scott Sumpter it was a nice warm up for the upcoming Renegade Gents Race. I rode with Sterling Heise for a few minutes on the paved trail back to Cumming. He said he was cooked and about to bonk while fighting through the pain cave for sure. I got home and took a nice hot shower, chowed down on lunch. Chowed down on dinner. Caught my Sunday evening shows and was surprised I didn't have to nap.
Now it is time to pack my suitcase for my Spring Break mountain biking trip to St. George Utah. Helmet, shoes, gloves, glasses, jacket, frame pack, water bottle, CamelBak, riding kit, arm and leg warmers, and a couple of shirts to wear in the evening. I hope to do some hiking in Zion National Park, so hiking boots as well. The temperatures look good for the week down there:
I'll be riding on these trails aboard a nice Ibis Ripley LS in size XL...
More from the trails in Utah as the week goes along...