18 riders, most of them Dusty 100 first-timers, were bugled out of the parking lot near Metis Crossing at 9 am. We were missing some Dusty stalwarts this year (Val, Penn, Bigfoot Ryan, Greg), but we made new friends. The gravel branch of the ERTC was well represented, of course, and we were joined this year by a contingent of smartly kitted out members of the Nuovo Nord Cycling Club, as well as several independent Edmonton-area graveleurs. (Special mention goes to Backpack Simon, who generously dished out from his bottomless pack of goodies.)
|Joshua, Hannah, and Tyler of Nuovo Nord|
It was that most curious and magical of gravel rides—pretty much free of suffering. Sure, that stretch of the Iron Horse Trail was a slog, as were the final kilometers into Waskatenau, but I think I speak for most participants when I say that the hardest part of the day was standing in front of the pastry case at the Petro Can, trying to decide what to pick from an impossible surfeit of choices. That was honestly more agonizing than anything I felt on the bike.
|At the Petro Can oasis.|
|The only shitty thing all day.|
That ride really was about as good as gravel gets. And it was a pleasure to spend time on the road with so many fellow gravel-loving, plaque-reading, bugle-friendly folks. Aaron Falkenberg may have been the fastest around the course, but in the parking lot at the end of the day, we all felt like winners.