Monday, January 21, 2013


The hotel lobby was buzzing Sunday morning. Well managed bikes and bodies were everywhere. We were all anxious to get the show started. I know myself and the other over 100 cyclists have put a lot of thought and preparation into riding our geared horses today. We would be riding 64 miles for 6 to 10 hours in 10 degree F temperatures across corn fields, wooded trails, and snow mobile trails throughout the day, and for most of us after sunset.

I didn’t know what to expect out of myself today. I have been battling a knee injury for months that have limited my mileage and intensity training on the bike.  I mentally prepared for the potential of pulling the plug and a DNF and  the disappointment.
After a prerace meeting we all lined up on our rigs in the hotel parking lot. Some of us riding around in circles waiting for the start gun to fire. At this point you want to feel cold, if you don’t you are way overdressed.
We began to roll out, I don’t know the final count but I would venture to guess 125 riders with the poker run riders and the around 100 riders in the 64 mile race.

I sure we must have been quite a sight as we rolled out through the busy city streets to get to the country trails. People looking at us shivering in their cars waiting for their car heaters to hurry  and warm up on the coldest day so far this winter.
Soon we were riding, carrying, pushing, and flying off our bikes in various stages and conditions of this race. There are always the front gunners. Riders that have a shot at winning. They jump out front, take risks, ride hard, and go for the gold. Me? I found myself somewhere in the middle of the pack moving with the herd.  
I am on the left with my FatBack getting in line to get my bike across the rail road tracks.

I found myself like the other riders around me pedaling hard on the sections where the tires were hooking up with good traction, running with the bikes in some areas, and in other areas just hitting on a hill as fast as possible then jumping off the bike to push it up to the top, and then repeat. I was starting to warm up, my sunglasses steamed up and I hooked them inside on my jacket collar. Perspiration was starting to form on my back. This could spell disaster and have me freezing later. My temperature control relies on opening and closing zippers starting first with my nylon wind breaker and then on wool undergarments.  

The problem was my windbreaker zipper was stuck and stuck solid. Attempting to stay on the bike and pull the zipper down while holding onto the top of the jacket with my mouth didn’t work. I needed to get off the bike and work this zipper open to cool down at 9 degrees F outside. My jacket zipper had other ideas and would not budge. So after trying a time or two again, I gave up for now, and commenced to not waste any more time with such.
Pedal on I did, exchanging places and commentary with various other cyclists as we jockeyed for position amongst ourselves out here in the farm fields on the day the NFL division champions were being decided.                                                                     

I was starting to look for Heritage trail. I knew once there I would have about 40 miles of level riding. My legs needed a break from all these hills. At this point I hooked up with friend and fellow rider Mark and we were moving together at a pace that matched. Soon we were on the descent down into the valley of Heritage trails. Now on the trail and ready to roll.

Mark was in the lead, and I followed. It was getting harder to maintain the same pace. I was concerned I might be starting to bonk all ready. Then I saw the problem. My front tire had less than 5 psi in it. FLAT!!!!

So I encouraged Mark to head on, I would repair this flat, and try to hook up with him down the road at Dyersville the turn around point.
I laid the bike down, and grabbed my Allen wrench from my bike bag to remove the front tire, and thought to myself I should convert these hubs to quick release.

Both Allen socket bolts were froze hard with ice in them and a smaller Allen wrench would not dig out the ice as cold as it was. I was getting cold too; I was a bit damp with sweat, not moving, and the wind blowing.
I had two options to thaw out my hub bolts. Option 1 pee on them, Option 2 suck on them. I choose option 2 just in case option 1 didn’t work and bolts froze back up again and the would leave me with just option 2.
After being passed up by 8 riders all asking if I needed help I repaired flat with a replacement tube and headed down the road looking to make up lost time.



dawn marie giegerich said...

How you endure this incredible adventure is a mystery to me. I bow before you.

mrbill said...

I have to honestly confess, I could never change a flat in those conditions, call in the Helicopter!
Yall are crazy, in a good way!

Dan O said...

Awesome! Looking forward to more info, words. pics...