We started at Valley Church in West Des Moines, Iowa.
We got going a little later than 5 AM after having to mess around with ride radio to get it working. The last few ride waivers were signed. Rocky Vest called the ride to order, I offered a morning prayer, and off we went. Sun was lighting up the sky a little and the temperature was just a little brisk on bear arms. As we went by a west des moines fire station, i remembered three years ago, riding by the same place in a pouring rain, and one or our first female riders ever, Dee Mable, flatted there, less than a mile into the ride. McCoy, Vest, and Kunze led the ride out west on Raccoon River Road toward Booneville holding 19 mph. It was absolutely gorgeous.
We crossed the Raccoon River and rode up out of the valley, being careful not to exceed more than 13-14 mph as we ascended, careful to not blow out legs so early in a 200+ mile day. A quick descent into the town of Van Meter and an abrupt turn up county road R16 right at sunrise. I can’t remember a better sound and sight than cruising along the river through a scenic valley at sunrise. Wheels whirring, gears shifting, quiet breathing, the morning sun illuminating the valley. Our group of nearly 60 riders took up nearly 200 ft of road. We quickly made it over Interstate 80 and followed the North Raccoon River valley passing the puckerbrush road. Once we made it out of the river valley we went by my child hood home and stomping grounds. We saw jeff colwell and my parents offering encouragement.
It turned out that road R16 was going to be reconstructed on Monday the 27th, and the crews had done a little pre-construction work on the concrete. Some of the lateral cracks and potholes were severe. We did our best by calling out the cracks and potholes but still sustained 3 or 4 flat tires in the 3 mile stretch of road. Luckily we had a Bike World van and technician to change flat tires. In past years, Pete Basso did most of the tire changing, but it was incredible to have a van full of equipment plus a bike mechanic along for the ride. As we made it to and crossed Hwy 6, we waited for awhile in Ortonville to allow the folks with flats to catch up and then cruised on toward Adel and the first stop. We spent some time on the Raccoon River Valley Trail. The runners had been hassled last year not having passes, so this year we got an event permit plus a day pass for everyone who rode the ride #official. The crew was led by McCoy and Kunze into Adel.
We took the first right turn onto the historic brick streets, hit Rapids street, took a left and proceeded across Nile Kinnick Drive (HWY 169) where we made our first stop, hosted by the First Christian Church of Adel. The Hall family (Scott and Kristy) and Pastor Dour Pfeiffer made sure that all the facilities were in working order (it turned out that the water had been shut off the night before, and if not for some quick acting by the Hall’s could have turned into a bio-disaster at the first stop) and the 20-some miles in, we had our first stop . Everyone was feeling great.