“A friend of mine invited me up to Iowa to ride a gravel event with him. The Gents Race 8.0. It is basically a team time trial on gravel, with a stop at a winery at the halfway point. The temperature at the start of the ride was around 18 degrees, with a 8-10 mph wind out of the North. We started the ride at Nite Hawk bar, headed North into the wind for a while and took the long way (30 some miles) to the winery that was actually less than 2 miles from the start.
The ride kicked the first team off at 9am and another team every minute starting with what they figured where the slower riders and worked the way up to the faster teams. We started at 9:!0… with a pannier full of beers. The first hour or so of the ride wasn’t too bad. A few long slow climbs, but nothing terrible. We rode into the wind for a few miles right off, but then turned and it was to our back which required us to stop to adjust our layers, since it we were not freezing any longer.
At 15 miles, we stopped for a “Halfway to the halfway point beer” then rode on to the halfway point were we had another beer, and shared a bottle of wine. After our beverages and chatting with friends we continued on for the rest of the ride. Once again we kicked off into the wind, this time for a good long stretch that was uphill with sandy soft gravel that sucks all your momentum. At this point we all started to feel the zap and struggled to put any power into the ride.
I am not sure if it was fitness, weather, or the wine, but that last 30+ miles of the ride felt like some of the hardest miles on gravel that I have done in a long time. The wind wasn’t that bad, I have ridden further in worse. That wasn’t the coldest I had ever been on a bike by far, in fact, in the afternoon, I was very comfortable warmth wise and actually had to lose a layer to keep from being too warm. It was also one of the flattest gravel rides I have done. Maybe it was the wine, but I have drunk far more beer and whiskey on a ride.
We finished the ride about 30 minutes behind the official cut off time, but we didn’t care. We came out to have a good time and ride bikes, and that is what we did. Afterwards, we drank a few beers at the bar, told our stories, had a burger and drank another beer before heading home to take a shower.”