Looking at the forecast before the ride I posted on Facebook that "it looks like we're in for a bit of everything" and this turned out to be the case as we had heat, wind, some hail, lightning and heavy rain along with some really beautiful weather after the storm had moved through but more on that anon.
The route had a little more than 10K feet of climbing and the profile looked as though it had more than a few longer, challenging climbs. Prior to the ride I decided I'd try to make quick turns through the controls until somewhere around 100 miles where I'd take a longer break for some "real" food and I pretty much stuck to that plan.
There were eleven of us at the start and we left in very nice conditions with a following wind. The group spread out to the first control with 4 riders ahead of me and 6 behind. As planned, I made a quick turn through the control and was first out but was soon overtaken by a group of four riders: Kit, Jonas, Keith and Scott. We rode more or less "together" through to the control at Winona at 93 miles mostly with a tailwind. I debated taking my longer break in Winona but decided to push on to Plainview another 34 miles on. It was already pretty hot but I didn't think it was as hot as it was going to get (and I was right) so I thought I'd get as many miles in as I could before taking a longer break.
I left Winona by myself and pushed on. About 12 miles out of town I'd already drank all of one of my water bottles and knew I wasn't going to be able to make it to Plainview on just the remaining bottle so I stopped at a Cenex station and bought a bottle of water and a V8. Jonas and Keith passed me while I was in the store and were about 1/2 mile ahead of me when I pulled out. After a few miles of flat we hit a long climb and I gradually caught and passed them on the climb. The day had really gotten hot by that point and I think they were wisely taking it easy in the building heat. That was the last I would see of any of my fellow riders and I rode the remaining 160 miles or so solo.
The next stretch to Plainview was the hardest part of the ride by far. The wind was really blowing hard at that point, it was above 90 and I was riding straight into the wind. Hot and windy really sucks the moisture out of you so I was trying to drink regularly and stay on top of electrolytes by taking one Enduralyte Extreme per hour. By the time I got to Plainview I was cooked. I did an extra couple of miles riding around town looking for the Subway before I finally came upon some people and asked them where it was. I took a leisurely break, had a sandwich and refilled my soda three times.
I felt better but not great when I left and it was still pretty hot with storms building to the north and west. Leaving Plainview there was a long 40+ mile loop back to Plainview going out to the east then coming back west. There was a nice tailwind on the eastern leg but I knew that meant a grind into the wind on the return leg. As I was riding eastward, the storm kept building and by the time I reached the info control at Minneiska it was raining hard with lots of thunder and the occasional flash of lightning though the lightning was distant.
As I turned west to return to Plainview it started raining harder and the lightning got closer. As I crested a long climb it was raining so hard I could barely see with a little hail mixed in and the lightning flashes were getting disturbingly close. I saw an outbuilding at a farm with the door missing and decided I'd duck in there to get out of the storm. I ended up waiting about 20 minutes or so before the storm passed through.
Leaving my little oasis, the day turned very nice. The storm had cooled it off about 20 degrees and the west wind that I'd been dreading had mostly disappeared. The only barrier between me and Plainview was some road construction that I had to walk through which was a sea of mud. Once I got to the other side my Speedplay pedals were so packed with mud I couldn't clip in. I rode into Plainview unclipped and before I left the control I washed my cleats and pedals. I was able to clip in but the residual mud and water mixed to form a cement that had my feet welded to the pedals. I nearly fell over at the next control and barely caught myself against the building when I couldn't unclip. I ended up having to take my shoes off and pull them off the pedals using both hands. Another good washing to get the remaining mud out prevented a repeat performance at the next control.
Wait for the ricochet
The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful. I felt like I was really crawling the last 40 miles or so but post ride analysis shows I was still maintaining a reasonable speed. In keeping with the "little bit of everything" on the weather front, I rode through patches of fog, cold valleys, warm ridge tops, etc., and it seemed like I was zipping/unzipping continuously in the last part of the ride. I finished at 1:52 (19 hours, 52 minutes) and was glad when I saw the finishing control. A long day with some weather challenges but a very nice route. Glad I went!