yes, the 2007 road season was kicked off in fine fashion today, with the inaugural running of the "chad vandelune gravel road series," held on county roads north and west and east of mitchellville, iowa. two laps of a gruelling 30 mile course were ridden. the charming aspect of this route is that fully half of the course is run over good, old iowa country gravel roads. hills, potholes, washboards, snowmelt-filled bottoms, and angry dogs awaited a field of nearly 50 riders from the upper midwest. mike, a racer from the twin cities, noted "i've never ridden anything like this before. this was the hardest road race i've ever done. i'm definitely coming back next week, and i'm not coming alone." officiated by the legendary former nebraska district rep dirty dick thompson, the race came off without a hitch. light winds [a high was sitting over central iowa] allowed racers to be challenged by the series of hills--unending hills, by all accounts. this was not a race for the weak or feeble. it should be noted that pig was not there. after a neutral roll-out from the spacious staging area, the pack headed off in a fairly friendly mood, which lasted some seven or eight miles, until the long, concrete hills through and beyond valeria. after several hills in four miles, the course turned south--literally and figuratively. the gravel was nigh. at times the gravel was good, at other times it was bad, and at other times, it down-right sucked--your tires in to about two or three inches of sloppy muck. it was really quite hard to maintain any momentum, to say the least. climbing was best done in a 39-19, 21, 23. heartrate was 170+ much of the time. notes: the first angry dog, a large, menacing great pyrenees, was sporting a dark, muddy, shoe-shaped spot on the top of its head on the second lap. we counted at least eight angry farm dogs, and only one set of owners who tried to control their pet. anarchy prevails in the canine world. most riders chose 23c or 25c road tires. there were maybe three or four cyclocross bikes. 28c tires were roundly declared "too wide." the course improved by the second lap. more riders would be welcomed next week. this is good shit. even though the route will be the same next week, the race will be completely different, because it will be even dryer, which should make it much faster. our time was 3 hours 43 minutes. sweet!