I knew I had adequate gear and plan for the task- it would come down to my planning and determination. Soon after that I was walking... the first climb proved to be too much for me in 38x18 with the bike weighted down as it was. This would be a challenge.
At mile 7 it started to snow. How the heck it snows when it's below zero, I have no idea. My goggles fogged up so I pushed them up onto my helmet. At mile 12 the snow was bothering my eyes and I put the goggles back down, turns out the foam surrounds were frozen solid- crap. I gave up on the goggles and got into a decent rhythm up through mile 24 or so when I stopped for breakfast at Subway of St. Charles. Either a lot of crazies come through there or the 20 yr old girls working there did a good job of hiding their surprise. At that point it was snowing pretty hard still comfortably below 0. I was 2:16 into the ride. Weather.com was trying to suggest it "felt" like -25 due to windchill. I personally don't believe in windchill.
The Subway stop almost proved to be my downfall. As soon as I stopped riding I fell into massive body racking shivers and chills. I realized I would have to keep moving as much as possible if I was going to be up to the task. I ate as fast as I could and got back on the road, now with my ski hat on instead of the helmet (and my goggles just wet, as I had warmed them inside my shirt while I ate). I knew feeling I had to keep moving would be a problem- I had brought lots of endurance drink, hammer gel etc., but not enough for the full pull without anything else. My plan had definitely been to stop twice, if not three times, and warm up/eat as I made my way. I pressed on.
The next section I felt great. The sun came out and the terrain out there is beautiful. Sorry about the poor quality of some of the photos- I was rushing.
I even dominated a few longish climbs by standing up and grinding.
This one did me in-
Made it up without walking, but it took way too much out of me. After taming that beast I quickly found myself in Chatfield. I checked the clock- I was down to 11.3 mph average or so (there had been some 10-15 mph headwinds) and I was at mile 40 or so with 60??? to go. It was 11:35 or so when I got back on the road.
Magnum road was brutal. It would prove to be the last real "climb" I was able to suffer up on the bike. I could feel the lack of power at the top. This was what I had been seeking, but the reality of "it" hit hard there as the route took me up that next series of hills. I was on and off the bike a few times. I knew I had to keep moving and I was able to make decent progress despite the wind, which was now right into my face, and the lack of necessary grunt in the legs.
Hard not to be happy there... but I knew what was to come over the subsequent 6 or 7 miles.
Come spring this will be the checkpoint on the race course. Didn't dare waste too much time here today, but took this.
Then had a great time walking my tired ass out of that valley.
From that point on I knew it was more or less flat the rest of the way home. It was also 2:00 and I still had another 3.5-4 hrs of actual riding left at the pace I was sustaining. I was in Spring Valley, but knew that if I couldn't waste much time if I was going to close this thing out and that if I did stop for long I would quickly become to cold to continue. I grabbed a few pieces of fuel and pressed on.
5 miles later I knew it was all over. I had a lot of riding left and despite the 800 or 1000 calories I'd just eaten I was feeling I needed more. At that point there were just too many available excuses- "it won't be safe to press on because of the amount of daylight, cold, lack of proper food, etc. etc.".
I wheeled into the Spring Valley DQ (having DQ'd myself) at 3:30 with 76 miles on the odometer. I somehow spent 13.xx. The cold hit me. I moved tables twice to find the warmest spot.
I didn't acheive my goal of "finishing" (the full Almanzo 100 course) nor did I ever have one of those really rewarding moments when your riding and the enormity of it catches up to you. The whole thing was a struggle. It was a good way to start the year.