What a difference a year makes. In 2011, the story of the Almanzo 100 was rainy, muddy, and cold temperatures. This year, heat and wind, but the theme was the same, cycling enthusiasts coming together to battle the elements and gravel for a good time. A 40 degree difference separated 2011 from 2012, but despite the raging heat and wind a massive group (approximately 750) riders arrived for the start in Spring Valley Minnesota.
With a neutral roll out and quick right turn onto the first stretch of gravel the lead group was gone with a cloud of dust leaving the majority of the riders to begin their long ride over the steep hills of the river valley. By the first rest stop in Preston, MN you could already begin to see the effects of the wind and heat. Riders took long breaks to cool off and refill their water bottles thanks to the members of the community. Leaving Preston riders were met with a hot blast furnace of wind directly into their faces before finding more gravel filled hills to climb.
Many took the next stop in Forestville State Park to take a nap under a shade tree or withdraw from the race entirely, but a determined (and large) group of riders, pushed through the day and into the sunset to finish the ride. Along the way we met many riders, everyone from folks riding in their first gravel, to someone attempting the finish their first (in four tries). Racers in full kits, people riding in jeans, men, women, titanium cross bikes, a Raleigh three-speed, everyone was represented.
This is what makes Almanzo the great event that it is. All types of cyclists coming out to challenge themselves and spend time on top of whatever bike they feel at home on.
We cannot thank Chris Skogen and the army of red-shirted volunteers enough for the fantastic event that they continue to put on year after year. If you haven’t already, head over to the website, check out some posts, and be sure to donate so that this event can continue to grow.
Pictures coming soon.