”Odin’s Revenge – Gothenburg, Nebraska
Made the 7 ½ hour drive out to Gothenburg on Friday after my 24-hour shift at the fire station. Guitar Ted was going to ride with me, but his sister had planned a surprise family get together for his mother’s birthday so he had to back out. After checking into the hotel, I drove over to the steak house for the pre-race meeting. The meeting was short and sweet and the prime rib was pretty good. After the meeting, I went back to the hotel to get my bike and gear ready for the race the following morning.
The drive had my back and hips tied up and I tried to do some stretches to loosen things up, but I tossed and turned all night trying to get comfortable. Woke up at 0400 and did a few more stretches before going down to the lobby for breakfast. After breakfast, I gave the bike and gear a once over and filled my Camelbak and water bottles before riding over the Interstate to the starting line at the KOA Campground entrance.
The temp was almost 80 degrees and the sun had not even risen yet. There was a slight breeze out of the South which was the general direction we would be heading for the first few miles. Shortly after 0600, Chad started the roll out, but the traffic light at the road construction stopped us before we could clip into the pedals. The light turned green and we rode through the road construction and started the race. Since I wasn’t there to win, I settled into a pace that I thought I could maintain for 180 miles.
The year before, the high temperatures and poor nutrition management had caused me to quit after making the third checkpoint at Potter’s Pasture. The temps were supposed to stay in the mid-80s and I had a better plan regarding water and bike food for this year’s race. Most of the riders were out of sight within a few miles, but there were a few of us plugging along and playing leap frog with each other as we rode. The roads were pretty sandy, and in some places the road was made up of a chalky/talcum powder like soil. I heard quail calling all day, but I never saw one on the road.
There are not as many wildflowers in Nebraska, so I watched the variety of birds along the road. The state bird of Iowa is the Eastern Goldfinch, but I am pretty sure that Nebraska has more of them. Iowa has a lot more Red Winged Blackbirds, and about the same number of Mourning Doves and Meadowlarks.
As the course turned to the West, so did the wind. It wasn’t very strong, and my legs were pretty fresh. I made the first check point with plenty of time in the bank. I topped off my water and kept riding. A few miles down the road, Janine passed me on her Badger 29er. She had passed me in the first 10 miles of the race, but she had missed a turn and didn’t realize it until she had ridden a few miles out of her way. We were riding North now, and the wind was picking up and out of the NW. A lot of the roads we were riding looked familiar from last year, but the year before, we rode them later in the race and some of them in the opposite direction. They had not had as much rain as last year, so the hills were not as rutted and I was able to ride them instead of getting off and carrying my bike over the trenches. Checkpoint Two was at Potter’s Pasture.
I topped off my water and had a few pieces of watermelon before continuing on. The wind was starting to pick up out of the North. My lower back was starting to tighten up when I rode into the wind, and it was making me pretty uncomfortable. The sky was overcast, and the wind was still in my face. I should have gotten off my bike and did some major stretching, but I didn’t want to be passed by the few riders that were still behind me. I kept riding and flushed a Wild Turkey out of the ditch, and she flew into the Cedar trees. The course turned to the East and then along an irrigation canal before heading North towards Checkpoint Three which was at the Start/Finish Line.
The weather was okay, my nutrition was right on, and my legs felt strong, but my back was killing me. It spit rain on me for a few miles and I had made up my mind that I wasn’t going to ride another 80+ miles.
I made Checkpoint Three with almost 2 hours to spare, but I could see my hotel and a cooler full of cold Kinkaider Beer sitting there. I got my fuzzy twisty and the cues for the second half of the course and sat down and drank a beer before I rode another few miles through deep sandy washboard until I got my 100 miles in for the day. I rode back to the Checkpoint and had a few more beers before riding over to the hotel and getting cleaned up so I could get back in time to see the winners roll in.”