Written by Sarah Brown Thursday, 02 August 2018 00:00
I decided to do this race only a few days beforehand. Though it’s a gravel grinder, parts of the course are pretty sketchy and a mountain bike comes in handy.
The event takes place in Killington, VT, and is a mix of paved roads, gravel roads, and unmaintained roads. The 40 mile course climbs 4,400 feet. The majority of the 50 or so racers had gravel bikes. Just a handful of us were on mountain bikes.
I had been having trouble shifting my bike and planned to take it to the shop the following week. As I warmed up it was not shifting at all. The course started with 7 miles of pavement, 5 of which was downhill. I was stuck in a gear intended for climbing. As you can imagine, this didn’t work very well for me. I watched the pack pull away and leave me behind, pedaling as hard as I could without getting very far.
After mile 7 we hit gravel. We started some long, steep climbs with technical descents. Climbing is my strength, and my full suspension mountain bike fared much better than the gravel bikes on the descents. I started passing people at a faster rate than I thought I could.
The rain started coming down, and before long I was cold. That gave me even more motivation to push the pace so I could finish. I surprised myself by still feeling strong on the last few steep climbs. The final gravel descent was epic. Long, steep, and seriously fast. This put us on pavement for the last couple miles. At this point I had passed 22 riders out of the 50 or so of us out there, and enough women to put me on the podium in 3rd place. I was thrilled to have made that much of a recovery. I enjoyed this race course, and I hope to return next year to race with a fully functioning bike.
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