I decided to join Team Four-Foot Meat Rope for the Almanzo Gentlemen's Ride. With the event commencing first thing Saturday morning, I had to leave very early Friday morning to get there on my bike.
4 AM roll-out from HC. Ron joined me. For Ron's sake, I did my best to keep a stiff upper lip in spite of sleep deprivation, heavy winds, and cold, driving rain. If I was on my own, I probably would have started crying and headed for home within 10 miles. But we pressed on and the weather (and my attitude) gradually improved.
We made shockingly good time to Northfield, where we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Ole Cafe. I love that place. As we approached Nerstrand, Ron picked up a nail in his tire.
Near Dodge Center, we encountered miles and miles of wind turbine installations:
Finally, in our overnight town of Stewartville, we were greeted by this bustling adult entertainment facility. We decided to scrap the race and just look at porn all weekend.
Almost 112 miles to Stewartville:
The next morning, we rode 20 miles to Spring Valley for Almanzo. If you are not familiar with Almanzo, it's 100 miles of gravel, with lots of steep hills.
A lot of people found the water crossing to be scary/invigorating:
In the end, Four-Foot Meat Rope finished the race, though not in any danger of being mistaken for a fast team. We all had a great time. The Almanzo route is one of the prettiest cycling routes I can imagine, but after 125 mostly gravel, hilly miles for the day, I was worn out. Believe it or not, I didn't want to ride uphill 20 miles in the dark and cold back to my hotel, so I caved to peer pressure and accepted a ride. I settled in that night feeling a little uncertain about riding alone back to Minneapolis.
The ride back was uneventful, and I took few pictures. Here's one of downtown West Concord.
After navigating the southern burbs under darkening skies, I rolled in around 8:30 PM feeling good, but tired. 351 miles in 3 days on my odometer.