The Gravel Metric is either blessed or cursed. We have incredible weather every year.
The weather this year was literally off the charts. Literally.
Sunday, May 27th, 2012, was THE hottest May 27th in the recorded history of DeKalb, IL.
But it didn’t stop 200+ riders from coming out and having a great time.
It was 90° at 9am. As I rolled into town at the end, my computer was reading 111° off the pavement. It was a hot day.
The 200+ rider parade splintered pretty quickly once we hit the loose gravel on McQueen. It was an impressive sight to see the lead group barrel through it and gain 1/4 mi in less than three minutes. There were quite a few crashes in the first miles of the race – a result of fresh gravel and bikes/riders not used to riding it.
For the first half of the ride, I had a blast riding bikes with my friends.
The new grass section on the western end of Gurler was very fun. High Grass. Bumpy.
Elva and Locust, after the dry weeks we’ve had, were super fast and fun. Checkpoint 2 is at the start of Elva Rd, so I had cold water in and on me as I rode away. What I didn’t realize at first was that I had accidentally dripped some water into the Nuun canister in my pocket. I heard it “pop” in my pocket and thought it was funny. This would come to mean pain.
The river crossing was a dribble, but the algae caused quite a few riders to take a bath. In this picture, the visiting pro Ben Berden rolls through with NCC’s Dan Eiten on his side while eventual winner Mike Hemme cools off in the background.
Fighting the wind to Checkpoint three, the leaders flew past as they headed home. CP3 was again the oasis that saved the day – with M&M’s, Gummy Bears, and cold Coca-Cola. I made a mistake here. Instead of topping off my third bottle, I went for the M&M’s. Bad move. I tried to drop some Nuun in my full bottles, but it had fizzed and congealed in the canister. I eventually shook them out, but they didn’t dissolve in the water. I rely on Nuun to keep cramping down and stay hydrated.
Checkpoint 3 is at the top of a rise, so getting there is agony. Leaving there is bliss. With a new tailwind, some sugar in my blood, and long downhill, one is easily convinced the last 22 miles will be cake. Then the hill bottoms out. Then the heat sinks in. Turning on to Herman Rd, I knew there was a long way home.
Then I saw Shai-Hulud on Tower Rd. I was by myself, cramping bad. From a distance, I must have looked like some sort of marionette, legs jerking and snapping. I was praying I wouldn’t lock up entirely and tip over. Then I realized I might have heatstroke. Then I saw it. I may have been seeing things, but regardless, it was a sight to behold.
I dallied alone for a while and then caught up with, or was caught by, a few other riders (real ones, not mirages). I don’t think there were 10 words exchanged in 10 miles. I remember it being very quiet. With the tailwind, there was no sound in the air. I had stopped sweating. My bottles were tepid and had only condensation left. I started to feel nauseous. Then it was over.
I sat down in a chair and focused on not vomiting. Someone lovingly handed me a bottle. I realized I was getting cold. There was a slight breeze, and I remember thinking I wish I had a jacket. This was very wrong. Someone has a photo of me looking like a molted shell of myself. I hope I can find that somewhere. If I looked half as bad as I felt, that photo will be great.
Eventually, I pried myself out of the chair and got myself under a cold shower head. This took as much effort as anything else that day. Taking a cold shower when you’re shivering is nigh impossible. I hate being cold. Many people compared the day to a sort of Hell. Not me. Hell in my mind is a bitter cold place. So this was the most hellish moment for me. Then, amazingly, I felt better. Much better.
There are more pictures of the day. We’ll post more as they become available.
All the photos used here were taken by Chad Gregory, stolen from http://ridingagainstthegrain.com, or borrowed from Facebook. Thank you to all those people.