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Old 05-22-17, 08:17 AM   #29
Hypno Toad
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Minnesota
Bikes: 15 Surly Pugsley; 09 Kona Dew Drop, 13 Felt Z85; 11 Globe Daily: 96 Mondonico
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2017 Almanzo 100 Ride Report - HOLY SH.T, that was brutal!

Temp was 40F at the start line with light rain, we rolled out into a steady 15 mph wind with gusts up to 25 mph. Rain never really stopped and temps might have gotten up to 50F. I want to congratulate every rider that clipped in at the start, that right there, that took commitment.

Happily the headwind were on the start of the course, when we were in larger groups for more protection.

I was able to hold with a big chase group for about 25-30 miles, and we could see the lead group on the straight roads. I felt good about that, but as the miles and cold started having effect, I found myself in no-man's land.

I passed a rider walking a hill, asked if he's OK, said he'd lost all feeling in his feet and hoped walking would get the blood moving again. That was a reoccurring theme, lots of frozen feet. Happy that SmartWool snowboard socks were enough to keep my feet from going numb (but my feet were COLD all damn day).

I picked up one rider, Ray, very soon after losing the chase group. The two of use made good company, and he was happy that my Garmin was working - 'cause wet cue sheets suck. We were both Almanzo alums and enjoyed talking about the challenges of past Almanzo rides and other great gravel grinders we'd been on together. It should be noted, I'm using an old 510; the 510 route is a line on a blank background (breadcrumb trail) .

We didn't stop at the oasis at Preston (mile 40). Short distance up the road, we picked up a few more riders and the core group from mile 45 to 90. A group that was equal parts bad-ass and foolish – I was calling us “the crazy train”:
Jenny - First time Almanzo rider. She's training for the Dirty Kanza 200 (WOW), her route failed to load on her Garmin, so she like my Garmin too!
Shinichiro - First time Almanzo rider, and I think he said first gravel grinder (damn!). He had a support van that met us at most blacktop road crossings. All the support van offered was cheering and pic/video of him going through.
Dave - First time Almanzo rider, also enjoyed my Garmin, we finished the ride together.

We had a few other cameos of riders that'd join before riding up the road or falling off the back.

This pic was from Jenny at the mile 66 oasis (Forestville), the hardest part of the ride… we were out of the rain and next to a hot fire; getting back on that bike was not appealing. Plus that picnic shelter had more rider that bailed out than riders planning to go on.

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(the Toad is on the left, with Jenny and Ray)

At the Forestville oasis, one of the volunteers asked if we were near the front... I LOL and said not a chance!

We rolled into the mile 76 oasis (Cherry Grove), Guitar Ted was serving fireballs and bacon (he also met us up the road with hand-up donuts!). Guitar Ted said that there were only 15 to 20 riders up the road (WHAT?!?!), and that we were the largest group to roll in. This was the one time I took my glove off to get at my phone, so I got one pic (my drop-bar Pug is on the left of the pic):

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The last 20 miles is the toughest, and some of the biggest challenges, including the water crossing at mile 81 (see the YouTube video below) and Oriole Rd climb - over 15% climb at mile 91. Oriole blew up our group (and was my wall). Shinichiro was near Dave and I at the top of the climb, but fell back after the road flattened out. Ray and Jenny rode out front, we keep them in view most of the time... and as Dave said, we could catch them if we wanted to.

Dave and I finished in just over 8 hours, my slowest Almanzo, but not too bad considering the conditions. I'm sure I'll have my best ranking ever! But it'll be the smallest field at the start, I'd say 400 to 500 riders rolled out (less than half of last year). The organizers posted that they estimate 110 riders finished. Results should be posted later this week, and I'm interested in seeing the pics from the photographers on course - it's not gonna be pretty stuff!

One of the biggest challenges, after holding off hypothermia, was getting calories and hydration in my body. My food was wet and all gritty with sand. The water bottles were coated in sand and mud. I'd open the bottle and clear the nozzle of grit prior to jetting into my mouth. I hate to think of all the grit, gravel, sand, ??? I ingested during this year's ride.

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I had the GoPro bar-mounted, so I got some video clips. Here's my quick edit:


Typically, there's a good after party, but most people were in GTFO-mode. I went inside to put on dry clothes for the 2 hour drive home. I feel bad for the crew that needed to clean up the men's room at the community center, the floor was thick with sand. Pulling down your sock, you find the fine layer of sand on your skin - that sand gets everywhere, everywhere, EVERYwhere!

I had a couple minor injuries, the sand turns all your gear into sandpaper. My SmartWool skull-cap rubbed the back of my neck raw. And leg warmers/bibs combined with the nose of my saddle to rub the inside of my thighs raw, that one is the most irritating after the ride.

Last edited by Hypno Toad; 05-29-17 at 04:55 PM. Reason: fixing the typoes & and mis-ID'd Cherry Grove volunteer
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