Day 3: Carroll to Boone- 101.65 miles
Today was to be the least climbing day of the week. 70 miles, less than 1,300 feet of climb. Considering the amount of torture I put my legs through the first two days, I was flying for the first 30+ miles. Really felt good. So good that, although just 12 hours previously I adamantly stated I wasn't going to do the Karras Loop (the optional additional 30 miles to make the day a century ride), I started giving it consideration.
I chatted with a few fellow riders who reminded me that the next day would be short (57 miles) and relatively flat, making today the best day for a century attempt.
I left camp with $8 in my pocket. ATMs are almost impossible to find in these towns with populations under 500, which for the first 35 or miles meant ALL of them. I finally found a gas station that had an ATM, which of course replied with an error and no cash dispensed. I was near panic as the (now $3 after a breakfast burrito) money situation was dire. I needed food and water to be able to continue. The clerk unplugged the ATM and plugged it back in. Five minutes later I applauded as $200 spit out into the tray.
So I now had money for food and water, I was averaging well over 17 mph, and I was feeling really good, really strong. Yet I still had not committed to the century loop. After a second breakfast of pasta, marinara, and veggies from Pastafari, I pedaled on. At the absolute last possible moment to make the right turn for the century, I took it, questioning my sanity on such a hot/humid day.
The loop was thankfully pretty flat, but there wasn't one bit in the shade, and the wind had picked up. I plodded along until thankfully a few pacelines I could handle passed by. This brought my speed up and my energy expenditure down. The town of Dana (population 84) was where you could pick up the patch that proved you did the extra loop. It also was the only place to get any food or water. I got on another paceline after Dana, but not until I had at least 20 minutes with absolutely no one around me. It was the sun, the wind, and myself. Thanks to the paceline, before I knew it I was riding past Pastafari again. I almost stopped for a second helping.
Once I came up to the intersection where the loop originally turned off, I was at mile 80. 20 to go. The next 2-3 miles were some of the worst roads the entire week. Pretty sizeable bumps/cracks from shoulder to shoulder every 4-10 feet beat the hell out of my hands, arms, and shoulders. It was brutal.
Eight miles after than I passed through the small town of Pilot Mound, who's claim to fame is the "Twister Hill" just outside town, so named because it's in the 1996 movie "Twister". Going down into the valley I reached 44.7 mph without pedaling, the fastest I've ever been on a bike. I crossed the bridge and there it was, giving me a "10%+ grade for 1/2 a mile" middle finger. I got as far as I could up it, about 1/3 of the way, and walked the rest. I was 92 miles in for the day and simply didn't have enough gears to get me up it. I wasn't alone. I had a bit of a scare when my left calf started cramping during the walk, but it subsided once I was back on the bike.
I took pics but this may give you a bit better of an idea: (requires flash)
I pulled into camp in Boone just before 2pm. The heat index was about 108. There was no chance of a shaded tent. I immediately got another massage since there was an opening. Then I showered, ate, and sweat. And sweat some more.
I had had enough of the tent life for the week. I seriously doubted my ability to complete the week if I couldn't escape the weather, at least after the riding was over. The tent wouldn't become comfortable until 1-2am and then I was up at 4, putting away a soaking wet tent even though it hadn't rained. It wasn't anything Pork Belly Ventures had done - they were great. Helpful, polite, etc... a very well run organization. The weather was simply getting the best of me. I called my wife, Billy Jo, and asked her if she could find a hotel room for Wednesday night near the next overnight town of Altoona. I then put my sleeping pad next to my tent in the one foot wide wedge of shade and passed out.
Billy Jo was able to find a hotel in downtown Des Moines. Thursday & Friday night hotel room in the Quad CIties had been booked well in advance, but more for her and our friends Tanya & Dan. I would now be joining them. We'd figure out the logistics of getting me back to the overnight towns later. I was about to spend my last night of the week in the tent. I would have cried tears of joy had I not sweat out all the fluid in my body.
I have now done two centuries in my life. Both were insanely hot and humid. I'm doing it wrong.
Strava ride data: