Thursday afternoon I took off a half day (mostly because I could) and also to pick up George from the airport. I'd been following his ultra-cycling blog for a while and happened to note that he was planning on coming to take part in Trans-Iowa V.5 I offered up some assistance in familiarizing him with gravel and whatever else he might need. As it turned out I played host and lent him a bike as well in the form of my Bianchi Axis cross bike. Or should I say, I lent him part of a bike...
As is understandable when planning on riding 300+ miles of gravel, you want some comforts of home for sure. So add in a pile 'o' parts
And you get something like this when all is said and done.
We grabbed a good dinner Thursday night courteousy of George and met up with Fuller as well for a quick drink so they could shake things out for the weekend as Steve was providing the transport and possible contingency plan for bailouts if needed in the form of his wife and son who were also joining in on the adventure.
Friday dawned a bit overcast and misty, but we suited up for a spin to loosen up the legs and get George a little Iowa flavor...
Ever the considerate host I dropped us into some gravel rollers down towards Summerset park giving him a bit of an intro into the finer points of gravel and along the way we stopped to check out a Level B Road! George wasn't quite as excited about the condition of the B roads considering he walked the bike about 50 feet into the road and pretty much clogged the drivetrain and his shoes in that span. Gotta love Iowa mud!
We took the flat route back to town and even managed to find some freshly graded gravel (as in we were riding behind the road graded). A short 30 miles and 2 hours later, we were back at my place with just a bit of time to kill before heading out to meet up with Steve and family at the shop. We headed over and Sterling was kind enough to hook George up with a bit of Iowa hospitality (thanks man!) before they headed off to Williamsburg and I got on with the rest of my weekend.
I spent a good chunk of the weekend checking on the various updates posted both by the competitors and Guitar Ted (the organizer). I also tried to shoot some text messages to both guys giving a bit of encouragement only to remember later on that Steve doesn't have texting (doh!) Sadly I learned Steve pulled the plug at roughly halfway, but at least George was still trucking along. He ended up making a well earned finish just under 32 hours after the start. The Axis came back no worse for wear with no mechanical issues during the ride and just a bit of dirt caked on.
Shoot, that's about how it looked before I washed it up on Wednesday night in prep for loaning it out. I was happy to hear it held up as good as it did since its going to be my ride of choice for Almanzo 100 in a couple short weeks. I just need to check over the shifting, pop the bottom bracket out for some well earned greasing and slap her back together. Oh ya, and ride my ass off to get some mileage in my legs.
Dropping George back at the airport this morning, we parted ways. What can I say, he's a great guy and I'm glad that he made it out here to hang with us Iowa boys and he's a good friend to have made. Just another reason I love this sport. For his full race report, check here.
Photo credits to George as well.