Friday, April 17, 2015

Come to think of it, on hindsight, the weekend was brutal. Hermann Gravel Challenge (part1)

Friday April 10th, I'm wrenchin' on bikes at the shop mentally prepping for the THE weekend. The weekend of personal strength and weakness, cunning attrition, soul crushings, stylish delivery, and delicious Hardee's(Carls Jr for the west coasters) breakfast sandwiches. The weekend that is Tour of Hermann Gravel Challenge!

Tour of Hermann Gravel Challenge starts and finishes in crazy small Hermann, MO. It used to be a two day road stage race for a number of years. It was put on by the great Jeff Yielding. I'm not sure on the 'deets, but about 3 years ago he changed from a road format to a mostly gravel "bike ride" that is very difficult and very competitive. Its NOT a race though, I must add! Now its sort of a stage ride with 5 total loops to complete. 3 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. Finish all 5 and you get a jar of gravel and crap ton of bragging rights. Finish with the lead group or damn near, and you basically get run of the town. Just kidding, but it is cool to be fast on this thing and leaves a soul feeling rather accomplished!

So the bike was set up and not dialed. I had just put the drop bars back on the Bocomo for the year and needed to give it a shake out since its the bike I'll be rockin' at Cohutta 100  which is 2 weeks from Hermann weekend.  Oh and yes a 29er off-road bike, one speed, rigid, drop bars and fat tires for a gravel ride. I was trying some new bars on the Bocomo, going from 42cm Salsa Cowbells to 44cm Bontrager RXL crabon drop bars. I picked up the crabon bonty bars last year for what was within my willingness to spend, but just barely. Lets say affordable for crabon bars. I ran them on my CX bike last year for cross then pulled 'em off when base miles began. I liked 'em on the CX bike alot, not so much on the Bocomo though. 

I also run TRP Spyre mechanical pull road disc brakes. They're rad, not specifically designated for mountain bike use, and I forgot how to get the rear brake to have power since its a cable actuated brake. So my rear brake was almost non existent. Whatev's, I got some ideas, plus I've finished races way shorter with a broken frames and NO rear brake which made this hardly comparable.

The tires were overkill for the terrain. My tires of choice are Bontrager Team Issue XR2 and XR1 for legit off roading, which was not this event. But hey man, I said earlier this was a shake out for Cohutta right.
 Ok, so enuff bike dumbness, my plan was to leave St Louis early-ish Friday night as to get to Hermann city park/campground in time to hang out eat and do last minute prep to the bike. I ended up not leaving work til close. I needed to then get camping grocies and hustle my butt to Hermann an hour and half away. Dang 8:30 rolls around quick, but at least I'm on the highway. Thankfully the 2005 Dodge Caravan I purchased February 1st has a cassette player in it! Public Enemy it is, Bring tha Noize for my listening pleasure!    

So time flies when you got P.E. blasting the subs. Ended up making to Hermann in just over a hour. So rad. I get to the park/campground and find myself a nice spot on the main driveway which also doubles as part of the course which little did I know helps me out later. I get out and go for a walk to see who had shown up. The pickin's were slim. Most peeps seemed asleep already or not there. I knew team mate Adam Clarke and Byron were planning to ride from St Louis 95miles to Hermann that day, and presumed they hadn't arrived yet?. When wallah, there they were walking from the bathrooms to get camp set up.

They had had a long day rumor has it. Loaded down cross bikes with "not" touring gears and lots of headwind. When they arrived to town they stopped immediately at the brewery for well beer and pizza. Nice work fellas. Then took full advantage of the prison style pull chain, warm, showers.

After a quick catch up I decided to call it a night and retreated back to the van to set up for slumber.
The best part and one of the main reasons for trading in my lil' danger ranger for the mini-van was this. I named this image Slumber Party.

So rest was next, Saturday morning rolls around quick. Knowing the approximate 95 miles and hills of day 1 my prime objective was to sleep sleep sleep. It was 10:30pm and didn't need to rise till 7am. I'm cool with that.  

Now good night and catch ya on Part 2.


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