Welcome Christina Anthony to the chase for 2013. I have no doubt that she'll crush us all (including Dennis...)
Hello, I'm joining the chase for 2013! Our first gravel metric was completed on New Year's Day on the tandem from Donnellson to Keosauqua with stops in Farmington, Bonaparte, and Bentonsport along the way for human fuel and a lot of warmth. Temperatures were on the frigid side with either the actual temps or the windchills being in the single digits for the entire ride.
We (Dennis Grelk and I) left just a few moment after 9am. Our first goal was Farmington's gas station about 15 miles away. It took us almost 2 hours to get there. Along the way, I had unzipped nearly all my layers. My toes were a little chilly, and I actually took my hands out of my bar mitts for part of that ride. At the gas station, I ate 2 peanut butter cups and drank half my bottle of water. We also bought toe warmers and put them in our boots. (Toe warmers are amazing, and I had no idea how I've lived this long without them.)
Then, we took off for Bonaparte, another 5 miles away. We didn't actually go into town, but stopped briefly and I took off my winter cycling coat and put on my windbreaker jacket instead. I ate a few handfuls of mixed nuts and drank some hot chocolate from one of the thermos we took along. We kept riding.
Bentonsport was the next town, another roughly 5 miles away. It had no services, but we walked through town anyhow as we couldn't ride the bridge with the tandem and both of us had cold toes. I drank more hot chocolate and ate a few Reese's peanut butter eggs.
The final leg from Bentonsport to Keosauqua (our turnaround town) about killed me. I was coldish, I had to pee, we were crawling along... I was starting to think that Keosauqua was a town that Dennis had made up. I was playing some messed up head games, doubting my ability to complete the ride, thinking it was ridiculous that I even thought I could do it, etc, etc...Somewhere along the way, we finally stopped and I watered the pines, hoping no one saw me, but not even caring if they did. I ate a few fun sized snickers and drank more water. Dennis was kinda laughing at me and telling me "Let's just make it to Keosauqua before we throw in the towel..." So, we kept going...
And, I can report that Keosauqua does exist... We pulled into town a bit after 1pm and after 30 some miles. At the gas station there, I ate 4 Reese's peanut butter cups, drank a V8, and part of a Pepsi Throwback. We went to the laundry mat and Dennis dried his clothes while wearing my windbreaker jacket (a humorous sight). I added another set of toe warmers to my boots and drank more of my Pepsi Throwback. And, then we reversed direction and went back home...
We went on a different route back, and we flew so much faster with the wind slightly at our backs! My spirits were lifted so much... Dennis said we were climbing hills at the same speed as we were doing flats on the way out to Keosauqua. I kept the rest of my Pepsi Throwback handy, and that seemed to be a power drink for me. I had to store it under my coat after a while as it started getting chewy when it froze... We passed by Bentonsport and rode through Bonaparte, but didn't stop. Outside of Bonaparte, we walked up a super steep hill, warming out toes up. I drank a bit as we walked. We stopped to walk probably at least 3 more times. We made it home in roughly 3 hours, at close to 5:30 tonight. I lost my power in the last 30 minutes of the ride and had to eat more, a fun sized snickers and a peanut butter egg, 2 miles from home just to get home.
I attached 2 photos from the ride. (Photo credit to Dennis Grelk).