Weekend of Iowa Singlespeeding and Gravel Grinding...

What does one do at the end of Week #12 of their structured base training plan? Or rather, what is one supposed to do according to the training plan?

I was supposed to do a power and heart rate test on Saturday which takes about 90 minutes of my time including the proper warm-up, test itself, and the cool down. I also have the option of doing it on Tuesday, or doing a repeat of weeks 11/12 in an effort to time my peak a bit better this summer around some actual events (that would be nice, yes?). So I didn't worry too much about it as I had a scheduled meeting Saturday morning, an afternoon training session that Tara wanted me to attend, and a dinner with friends up in Des Moines in the evening. Sunday provided options of a possible gravel race in Colfax, or a gravel grinder ride I had seen posted on Facebook, or another supposed to do scheduled ride of developing technical skills on the mountain bike.

Short story - I opted to skip the power and heart rate test and take the test on one of the other options listed above. That led to me loading up the Karate Monkey singlespeed in the back of the Element to head off to the new Iowa Tap Room to meet with Jeff Mertz and Rob Cook for a discussion on Iowa Mountain Bike racing. We were the first customers to arrive and take a table. By the time we left, it seemed the entire NCAA Tournament Crowd had filed in and the place was hopping for a Saturday lunch hour. 120 Iowa craft beers on tap and the decor is old industrial wide open, roomy, comfy, and bright. We had a good lunch meeting and I sampled two of the lighter beers.

I drove south from Des Moines through sleet, snow, rain and headed to Summerset State Park where the sun was shining. Perfect. I pulled the bike out, got suited up with plans to get about 90 minutes in the tank including some of the supposed to do stuff for technical skill development. I did a full lap and noted that things were in some of the best shape coming out of Winter that I can remember it being in years past. It was a nice mix of sun, sleet, snow, sun which made for a visually fun ride - and nice reminder that it was, after all, the last day of Winter. The new 17T rear cog at my current weight and fitness proved to be just right. It was a bit of a struggle at 10-15 pounds heavier, but feels just right at my current weight. I rode several sections over and over again rather than do a full second lap, then I saw Ron Cooney in the parking lot where we chit-chatted a bit before I had to head off to my next appointment. He was planning on doing some reroutes in Riverside where the bank of the Middle River had compromised the trail in two spots.

We wrapped up Saturday evening with a great meal and drinks at Malo with friends. Based on the El Rey Margarita - which is served table side in a shaker Martini style - and my inability to say no to a 2nd, and a 3rd, it was clear that my Sunday was not going to include climbing out of bed, suiting up, and hopping on the bike to do a gravel Spring Classic race in Colfax (which was one of my options for the weekend). I wanted a little more time on the bike for Sunday to build up my stamina for the upcoming Renegade Gentleman's Race that my team BikeIowa.com puts on every year.

To reach that goal of getting a bit more bike time, I hooked up with Katherine & Eric Roccasecca, Rob Cook, Andre Rethman, and Alan Eshelman for a planned 42 mile gravel route that Katherine had organized. We headed out from the Cumming Tap at 11 am. I could have ridden my Roubaix endurance road bike or my Dos Niner mountain bike as the gravel was nice and baked hard. I decided to go with the fat tires of the mountain bike to take advantage of the the suspension fork and Thudbuster ST post I have on there to absorb any chatter.

Skies were blue with billowy clouds, and the gravel was dry but not dusty...


Baked Iowa Gravel 

Pictured above is the stuff we see this time of year where you can get by on a road bike, cross bike, mountain bike, just about any bike. Once the counties get out with the graders, and some fresh gravel is dumped - that all changes quickly. However, yesterday would have been fine on anything in my garage due to it being baked so hard. We maybe hit a few short sketchy sections, but nothing very technical.

Eric was feeling under the weather and even though we backed off the pace a bit, he was struggling to keep up with his fever. We stopped for snacks about mid ride and laughed at how tall this group was. Everyone was at least 6'3" and all the way up to 6'7" except for Katherine.

Team Katherine and the Too Tall to Buy off the Rackettes...


So the group lined up in order for this photo is 6'3', 6'4", 6'5", Katherine, 6'7" and the photo is courtesy of Rob Cook who I believe is 6'5". Talk about a group that could provide plenty of shelter from the wind if you rode behind us!!!


Katherine and Eric peeled off at the Great Western Trail to head back as they had an evening dinner enagement and Eric was with fever. So the other 4 of us motored on and pushed the heart rate up in into high Zone 2, Zone 3 and 4 to finish off the final 13 miles. Looks like we had about 3 hours and 15 minutes of ride time to cover the 42 miles at the pace we were going, and enjoying all the hills and screaming descents. A pitcher of Fat Tire at the Cumming Tap to recover was enjoyed between us before heading home.

The weekend of riding - even though it wasn't what it was supposed to be - felt like a great way to wrap up the 12 week base period of training from LWCoaching.com.

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