Ragnarok 2014

Update: I really appreciate the effort to put on the Rok. I love these rides and the people. I had "fun," of a sort. And I'm pleased to finish in these conditions. The post I wrote below sounds way more down than I intended.

Saturday was my second ride in the Ragnarok 105, a gravel grinder between Red Wing, Zumbro Falls, and Lake City, Minnesota.

The highlight of the course is long winding river valleys, perfect for this slow 46-year-old singlespeeder running 39x18. The low blow of the course is the turning over the last cue sheet and remembering you have to go 107, not 100 total miles.

The forecast called for scattered rain in the morning, clouds in the afternoon, and temps from 49 to 59. Planning for that was a challenge. I wanted to make up for my DNF at Almanzo 2011.

I dressed in bibs, long sleeve wool t-shirt, all-purpose hooded shell, and mid-weight tights. I hoped to take off the jacket and tights in the afternoon, but that did not happen as the temps stuck in the 40s all day. I needed luck and help to stay warm enough in the first hours after the rain.

The first leg was a slog. There was rain. There was lightning, which didn't worry me but should have. There was peanut butter road surface. There was mud (later sand) everywhere, inside and outside my clothing. My CamelBak zippers seized up.

I do not own gloves or shoes suitable for long rides in cold rain. Gloves on my hands and gloves in my pack were both soaked after 2 hours. My wool socks tried, but the water splashed on my shins drained into my shoes, and the wind sucked the heat out of my feet. Mark and TC got me out of the BP in Zumbro Falls with a tip to buy the last pair of ugly yellow felt gloves, and encouragement to layer sandwich baggies between socks & shoes. I started warming up soon.

The second leg was fun. I was almost always alone. I jammed some Girl Talk in my headphones. A rider passed me and said something like "ah single speed, you're a hard mother fucker!" I basked in that. Somewhere after the park with the ultra running races I stopped and read the cues in reverse for some people in a car looking for their rider. I think they found him later.

I caught Mark and a couple others in Lake City. We shared compliments and complaints. I ate too much carrot cake, then I rode the last leg with an upset stomach. I interrupted someone welding in a farm shed to ask "is that unmarked turn Orchard?" He saved me a lot of time since I couldn't find the spoke magnet for my odometer before the race.

Mark brought the beer for the finish. That's a great friend. I still need to finish laundry, clean up my shoes, and replace every ball bearing on my bike before Almanzo...