I drove the entire course over two days this past weekend. It is dry, dusty, and fast. A lot can happen to these roads in a week, and many are showing damage from the tractors and heavy truck traffic during the recent harvest. Remember, you are responsible for you, and you must pay attention and navigate with care. A second headlight for the B roads is not a bad idea, especially for the 200 mile riders.
The C stores have all been alerted to your impending arrival, and are looking forward to meeting you. You must make it to Orient before the store closes at 7pm! That is mile 130 of the 200, and mile 100 of the 150.
I have a few final edits to the course, and then the cue sheets and GPX files will be emailed out to you. The B road creek crossing on 160th street has been re-routed. It did dry up, but it turned into the mud pit of despair with no decent way to cross it. This was otherwise a great road, I am sad to have to leave it out.
We are expecting significant rain on Tuesday night and early Wednesday. Dry weather is expected for the remainder of the week, with above average temps through the weekend. The roads will dry out by Saturday. I expect even the dirt roads will be mostly rideable, with some muddy spots. The B roads near Orient were recently dragged, and may develop significant ruts due to rain. They will be an interesting challenge. The wider your tires, the more you will like them.
Here is a selection of my favorite course photos taken over the last year. The entire route was put together during my wanderings while training for Race Across the West. I have ridden it forward and backwards, in good weather and in bad. I’ve fallen off a few times, walked many miles, broken one derailleur, and trashed a few tires. It has been a grand adventure, and I hope you all enjoy it.
This event is entirely self supported. Volunteers on the course are only there to monitor your progress, and checkpoints are in the middle of nowhere. Your only opportunities to resupply are at the following locations.
Packet pickup will be Friday, October 28th, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Kyle’s Bikes in Ankeny, just north of Des Moines. If you cannot make it to packet pickup, please email me to make other arrangements.
Don’t wait until the last minute to register! Registration will close October 14th at 5:00 p.m. There will be no registration after that.
Sarah Cooper discusses her new gravel event, The Spotted Horse Gravel Ultra. The inaugural SPGHU will take place October 29. If you’re looking for a 200 or 150 mile gravel race this fall you’ll want to check this one out!
This is a self supported event on Iowa gravel and dirt roads. You can choose from 150 or 200 miles. Don’t expect the 150 to be easier.
If you are considering longer self supported gravel events like Trans Iowa or the Alexander, this is a good place to test your gear and your mettle. If you’ve completed multiple 100 km or 100 mile rides and are looking for your next challenge, you will find it here.
I am excited to announce that the start and finish for the Spotted Horse Gravel Ultra will be Wildwood Hills Ranch in St. Charles, Iowa. This is a great organization, with a mission I am proud to support, and in a beautiful location.
“Wildwood Hills Ranch is a 400 acre non-profit facility, set in the scenic hills of Madison County, just south of Des Moines. Founded in 2001, the ranch exists to transform lives and strengthen communities by providing healing, hope, and God’s unconditional love to children and at-risk youth. Free summer camp and year round retreats are offered to at-risk children ages 8 to 18. Kids are immersed in a fun, safe environment where character, leadership and teamwork are modeled and taught.”
October is a beautiful time to ride gravel in Iowa. Planning the route for this event has been a joy and an adventure. I have wandered as far west as Monteith, and within shouting distance of Missouri. The course will not be finalized until next year, but it will be 200 and 150 miles of the best big hills, small towns, old barns, rickety bridges, and B roads that I can find. Lots more information to come soon regarding the venue, registration, checkpoints, lodging, etc.