In short, I ended up bailing out on The GRAID at about mile 100 or so. With my self imposed "ride of shame" into the headwind from Dallas Center to Grimes, I ended up with about 115 miles for the day. Not bad, but not the intended target. My cardio system was in good shape, my legs felt fine, but my (lack of a) pre-trip shakedown ride caused me the most issues.
I had purchased a seat post mounted rear rack to use on the ride. With my panniers full of stuff that I took "just in case", I was right at the weight limit for the rack (which was 20 lbs). I hadn't bothered to read the installation instructions, which would have let me know that there were proper shims to use with the rack. Instead I opted to use some bits of inner tube I had laying around. While this worked (somewhat), it also meant that I could not stand while climbing, or the rack would move enough to hit the rear tire. I sat on all of the climbs for the day, which really caused my back to get tight, and by the time we got to Dallas Center, I had experienced enough, physically and mentally.
On the bright side, I think I have figured out most of the things I need to make this ride successful.
I need to eat more food, more often. I had Gu and other stuff with me, but none of it was within easy reach. Carrying it isn't any good if you can't use it. I was in the middle of a pretty bad bonk towards mile 100. Chicken sandwich and potatoes at Casey's certainly helped. I think a small bento bag on the top tube like Dennis had, or putting some stuff in my windbreaker seems to be a wise move.
I brought way too much stuff "just in case". Two changes of clothes was way too many. First aid kit was a good idea, but probably unnecessary with the level of riders we had and the speeds we were going most of the time. Rain suit is a maybe depending on the weather. The extra tire was a good idea. Extra batteries for the lights were a good idea too. After some thinking, I am sure that I can pack everything that I need into a small rack top bag.
My butt seems to get pretty sore about mile 100 or so. I may end up putting another Brooks on the mountain bike if the one on the LHT works out. My other choice is to just take the LHT on the next ride and not worry about it.
The sitting while climbing worked out well for my heart rate never exceeded 166 for the entire trip, not bad considering we had over 6000' of climb through Dallas Center.
Weather for the day was just about perfect. Temps between 30 and 50. Sunny. Winds out of the SE at 19 with some slightly higher gusts. Could not have asked for a better temperature range to ride in.
My promise to myself is that I will correct these issues and give this another shot again this year. I might take a small tent and figure out a place to take a nap along the route as well.
Photos from the ride are located here