Made the decision mid-Friday afternoon to join in on Rob Versteegh's nighttime gravel ride. Came home from work and quickly cleaned the driveline up on the Karate Monkey and threw some light batteries on the charger quick. Pulled everything I needed for a quick "local" century into my camel back and snagged a quick dinner. I had been watching the storms build out west and head our direction since early afternoon and they hit about 6:30 PM or so. After about 30 minutes of rain I threw the bike in the back of the truck and headed to Kyle's Bikes in Ankeny to meet everyone else. After some ice cream cake to celebrate Chuck's birthday, we headed north out of Ankeny around 8:30 PM.
After a bit of pavement, we hit gravel and headed due north. Rob's route was flat and straight. Once we were outside of ankeny, we made no turns until we arrived in Ames about 90 minutes later. We took a quick food break at Jimmy John's and ran into Matt from Skunk River Cycles. He talked to Kyle (from Kyle's bikes) and sped home to grab his bike and join us. We headed back south of out of town on the same road we took in. When we reached a crossing with the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail, Sedore, Bruce, Kurt and Troy(?) decided to call it a night. The rest of us hopped on the HOINT and headed east to Cambridge, turned around and then took some more gravel back into Ames. After a 2 AM stop at the Flying Burrito on Lincoln Way, we parted ways with Matt and headed back south into Ankeny on the same road we had ridden earlier in the evening. We arrived in Ankeny around 3:45 or so. Scott Sumpter, Rob and I took a quick break at the Kum and Go next to Kyle's shop. I had decided that 80 miles was enough at this point so I packed up and headed home for a quick shower and crashed until about 9 AM. Sumpter and Rob were off cruising the streets of Ankeny for the next hour or so to hit their century for the day.
It was nice having a bigger group for a gravel ride for a change. The pace was solid but maintainable and riding with some different people kept the conversation fresh and made the time pass. Despite the rain earlier in the evening the roads were in really good shape. I did notice that the gravel in Story County is a lot different than around here and in Madison and Warren Counties. Our roads tend to have gravel, and with a layer of hard pack underneath. The roads in Story county were a lot sandier. It made maintaining pace a little more work, and it also meant that you had to move around a lot to find the faster line. Sometimes the tire track was not the best place to be.
We're thinking about doing another one of these in August. Hopefully we'll get some more hardy souls out to join us then.