I took Friday off work and headed over to Lincoln, NE to take part in the second running of the Good Life Gravel Adventure. http://cornbreadblog.blogspot.com/ and the rest of the Lincoln crew hosted a great event. We signed in at the MOPAC trailhead, heard a few words from Cornbread and we were moving around 6:10 AM. We headed east on the MOPAC trail for neutral rollout. However by the time we had reached the end of neutral trail section, a healthy gap had already formed. After turning north onto the first gravel road, I was with a group of about 15 riders and moving along at a solid pace. As soon as we crossed Hwy 34, someone jumped off the front of the group and the pace went from solid to completely crazy. I attempted to stay with the group for the next three miles, but a 175 bpm heart rate was not going to allow me to finish the race. I backed the pace down for the remainder of the first leg into Valparaiso, riding a good portion of it with Joel Dyke, one of the Dirty Kanza organizers. Even so, the first 40 miles were behind us in under 3 hours.
After a short ride north, we turned south, towards the second checkpoint in the tiny town of Malcom. At this point, I started riding with Scott Bigelow. We had started chatting a bit earlier and were riding close to the same pace. We chatted on and off, both enjoying the brief bit of chipseal near Branched Oak Lake. Scott was fresh off a finish at Leadville just a couple of weeks earlier and was still riding strong. He had a bit more power on the steeper climbs we hit but seemed happy to settle in behind me on the many rollers we were still encountering. We hit Malcom in around 75 minutes and made a quick stop in the convenience store. With the next stop just 15 miles down the road, I didn't feel the need to stick around too long, so I took off. Scott joined me a short bit later and we headed towards the third stop in Denton.
Scott and I continued to roll on at a good pace. Not too far from Denton, Warren Wiebe, John Flynn and Kirk Hutson motored on by us. The five of us rode into town together about an hour after leaving Malcom and stopped at the convenience store for a break. With 85 miles behind us, I decided this was a good spot to refuel. I grabbed a bottle of tomato juice, a turkey Lunchable, and some Lemonade and proceeded to sit down for a meal. Soon, I was looking up at the grinning face of Warren Wiebe asking if I had something better than a pair of scissors that he could use to cut a couple of spokes out with. I made some comment about being a mobile toolbox for the Kansas crew. I had loaned some tools out to Joe Fox so he could repair his derailer during TransIowa. At that time, Warren was amazed that I had a chain tool and a hunk of bike chain in my camelback. After that, I handed my side cutters to Warren and returned to eating. I spent the rest of my break stretching and watching Warren and some others use an emergency kevlar spoke kit that I had inadvertantly reminded him he had with him. Since we weren't needed any more, Scott and I took off and headed towards our last checkpoint in Cortland.
Scott and I enjoyed our last section of tailwind. We had a nice 10 mile stretch that had some nice wide rolling hills, complete with a nice couple handing out fresh bananas at the top of a long downhill. More hills and 75 minutes later, Scott and I were outside of the Cenex in Cortland. I went inside, snagged my last Nebraska Powerball ticket, a Snickers ice cream bar, some gatorade and some almonds. We sat down next to Rafal Doloto from Omaha and had a brief chat. Not too long later, Rafal decided to head out on the last leg with Scott and I.
I left Cortland and headed east with Scott and Rafal. We cruised along at a good pace and then finally made the left hand turn north and started a 13 mile push north into the headwind. We all took turns bearing the brunt of the wind, taking pulls for around .5 mile or so. My flagging energy levels forced me to take a breather and eat some food with about 3 miles left in our northward push. After the break, I wasn't able to keep pace with Scott and Rafal so I waved them ahead while I waited for the food to enter my system. About 15 minutes later I was feeling better and began the final 15 mile push to the finish, crossing the finish area at the MOPAC trailhead around 10 hours and 45 minutes after I started.
I had a great time in Lincoln and plan on going back for more rides next year. There's a strong bike culture in the area and the town itself looks like it would be fun to spend some time in. I want to give a big thanks to Oliver and Katie Banta for hosting me for the weekend. Oliver finished the race in just over 13 hours, allowing his time to suffer a bit to make sure that others were ok. A big thank you to Cornbread for putting this thing together, as well as everyone else that was involved in gathering sponsors for the event. This was a great grassroots event.
A big thanks as always to Rasmussen Bike shop for ordering in the weird stuff I ask for, treating me right, and squeezing in a quick adjustment for me when needed.