It's the last day of February in cold, blustery, Iowa. I imagine many folks have visions of a warm beach dancing around in their heads, and others are just content to endure the long Iowa winter by cozying up to a beer while watching the cyclones play Kansas State. Then there are 125 hardy souls who embrace the cold, the wind and all that 100 kilometers of Iowa's hilliest, gravel roads can dish out to two wheels.
On most winter days in Cummings Iowa, you won't find a lot happening, and not too many patrons at the Tap first thing Saturday morning. On this morning, the Tap is bustling with activity and there is more than one way to prepare for the day ahead.
On this Saturday morning, the mercury in the thermometer is 15 degrees south of freezing, the wind is calm, and the skies are clear. The race goes on rain, sleet, mud, ice and snow and the gravel is looking to be fast.
Within a few miles of the start, those winter legs are jolted awake by the first of many climbs to come.
If you take your time to look around, you'll find some relics from years gone by, and I mean the old dodge and long deserted farm house!
This is the hill near mile 26. I've done this race before and this one stings!
On the backside of the coarse, Joe and Joann Schmidt top out on the crest of yet another hill.