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By Adam Wombacher
President of the Lake Country Cyclists bicycle club based out of Ankeny

The idea of riding my bicycle down gravel roads has intrigued me for some time. But, until this year, I stuck to the pavement on trails and roads. So, recently when I found out about a local 63 mile gravel road bicycle ride called the "Renegade Gents Race 5.0," I jumped at the opportunity. These are some of my impressions of the ride Saturday, April 4th.
Apparently the "Gents 5.0" really is race. But, let's just call it a bike ride for the sake of this conversation. Anyhow, the ride started and ended at the Nite Hawk Bar & Grill in Slater, IA. That day I rode with a team of five people. We were the "Wombats." The teams started at two minute intervals beginning at 8:00am. Our team left the starting line at 8:04am with our cue cards in hand so we would know where to make each of the turns over the course of the next 62.8 miles.

The route meandered as far north as what seemed like the southern edge of Ames, as far south as somewhere southeast of Sheldahl, past the Snus Hill Winery near Madrid as well as other locales. After a short lunch break in the boondocks off of 520th Avenue, and after 10 left and 8 right turns, we crossed the finish line in Slater just at 2:37pm. Impressive, right? Not! But we had fun. That's the point.

What made the "Gents 5.0" worth the effort was that I rode with friends and hundreds of other people through beautiful Iowa farmland. The temperature was brisk and the skies were cloudless and beautiful. And, the gravel roads provided for a great workout. Other than one tractor and a few automobiles, the roads were devoid of motorized traffic. We had the route to ourselves.

So, yes it is really a race. But, there will always be someone ahead of you. So, the prize is your enjoyment, finishing the 62.8 miles and enjoying refreshment at the Nite Hawk that afternoon.
Would I ride the "Gents" ride again? Yes. I'll be there next year with "The Wombats" (Mary, Doug, Kathleen, Don and myself).

If you're interested in more information on the ride go to this link: http://www.bikeiowa.com/Event/8928/gents-race-50

Lastly, kudos to the ride organizers Rob Versteegh, Kyle Sedore and Bruce Reese. You did a great job.

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