It’s been a little over a month since the Tour of Hermann, so I figured I’d better document the effort. My main goal for ToH actually had nothing to do with myself. I recently helped my good friend Andy (good friend as in we’ve been paling around since Pre-school) build up his first serious bike and he was looking to put some miles on it. Having blocked the ToH’s elevation profile from my memory, I figured the first 30 mile lap would be a good intro to the sport.
We rolled into Hermann bright and early Saturday morning, got signed in, and said some hellos. I could tell Andy was buzzing and his excitement was infectious. We lined up at the traditional Team TOG pole position at the back of the start and rolled north across the river. Caught up in the jetstream of the peloton in front of us, we cruised at a 20mph pace to the start of the gravel where the group spread out.
While I’m used to riding in and out of the Missouri River flood plain around Columbia and Jefferson City, the same feat around Hermann is a different animal. The Hermann hills seem to cover the same elevation in half the distance, making the climbs look like walls ahead of you. Luckily, there’s no shame in our game, and our egos felt no blows as we walked the steepest hills.
We rolled along at a conversational pace, once stopping to assist a less than prepared rider with a flat, and again a few miles later to fix my own. The final descent, paid for in blood and tears during the ascent, offered spectacular views and rear puckering speeds before depositing us back out onto the Katy Trail. I could tell the last few climbs were taking a toll on Andy’s legs, but he suffered in silence and made good time.
Back on the Katy Trail, I knew what to expect. The inexperienced may think this is a blessing after all the climbing, but the flat straight gravel gives your mind the chance to talk to your body. This conversation usually goes like this…
Mind: “Hey, body, isn’t this awesome? How about that view?”
Body: “I’m hurtin man, butt is sore, legs are heavy..I might be dying.”
Mind: “We’d better stop right now then, lay down in the shade, and take a nap.”
Heart: “Shut your face, you two pansies. Maybe if you hadn’t eaten 8 lbs of Taco Bell yesterday you’d feel better.”
And so it goes. I could tell Andy’s internals were having a similar conversation and we just put our heads down and peddled out the last 6 miles back to the loop 1 finish. My original intentions were to head out for the second loop and get another metric checked off for the Cup O’ Dirt Challenge, but I wasn’t crazy about rolling out alone and the prospect of sitting around and eating BBQ instead won out. We went over to the checkpoint to confirm that we were still alive and bow out. Upon mentioning that this was Andy’s longest ride to date (by 15 miles no less), the benevolent race director, Jeff Yielding, awarded him a bottle wine for his effort.
All said and done, Andy’s first event doubled his longest ride, covered one of the hilliest 30 mile gravel routes you could find, and he only told me he hated me 3 or 4 times. Success!