For the second year running, I spent part of my Memorial Day weekend riding the gravel roads in the Illinois farm country near DeKalb. This year’s Gravel Metric used the same course as last year’s, but the weather, the company, and my physical condition made it a completely different ride. Instead of cool with a bit of rain (arm warmers cool), we had dry, dusty, and hot. And instead of driving down with my wife and riding alone, I was joined by two of my teammates.
But the real difference was my physical condition. Last year, I’d come to the Gravel Metric after dropping out of the Almanzo at Preston, in part because I was still having nagging knee issues that flared up at Trans Iowa, and in part because I didn’t have my head together. This year, I was feeling strong after a good spring of training for Trans Iowa (and an all-too-short ride there) as well as a few good, long rides in between TI and the Gravel Metric. And instead of riding an old, hacked together Kona Jake, I was riding the single-speed Devil, running 39×18.
But that doesn’t mean this year’s Gravel Metric was a walk in the park. I’m not sure if it was some badly timed pre-race eating, the fast start, or the heat (this being the first hot day I’ve ridden hard this year due to the cooler than usual Spring), but my stomach started to revolt by the time we reached Shabbona and continued to threaten a full-on revolution. I spent the rest of the ride hovering just beneath the puke level, with my speed and effort varying according to where that level was at any given time.
It made for a hard–but manageable–ride…and one on which I was glad to be riding with friends.
Thanks to North Central Cyclery, Axletree, and all of the folks there that put together the Gravel Metric. It’s a well-organized event that just keeps getting better and better every year. I know I’ll be back.