Written by John Sumner Monday, 26 August 2019 00:00
As I was sliding my gloves on, the organizer yelled 'go' through his bullhorn and two junior racers went full gas along with 20+ other folks of all ages. I realized this 'ride' was a 'race' and it was on. I quickly began to chase but realized what was to come (6500' of climbing) and backed off as soon as the first gravel section on a steep downhill with a sharp turn at the bottom caused a bottleneck. Slowly picking riders off for the first ten miles and trying to catch two guys wearing green and yellow jerseys, they vanished around mile ten.
The next 10 miles were spent trying to figure out where the next blue 100k marker was. I was not alone, about 15 others were also lost. Turning back on some vacant road with beautiful old homes I came across an aid station that was set up after I had passed by the first time. I was instructed back to the missed blue marker, however after two 2 mile loops finally saw the blue marker and continued on. I raced to catch the back of the 100k group for 15+ miles when suddenly I saw someone ahead of me, then another and another. This was motivating and made me push hard riding up steep hills others were walking.
The temperature was around 70 degrees with sunny skies. We did go onto segments that were very rough and almost like single track MTB trails, but not for long. The majority of this course, somewhere around 90% is all gravel. I think no more than 6 cars passed me all day. Aid stations offered ice, water, local treats and power bars. I carried too much, three water bottles and lots of gels and Cliff shots, one spare inner tube, bacon strips, and three Co2s. Fortunately, no flats thanks to my Schwable 33MM tires and Carver C50 rims.
At one point, I was chased down a long downhill road by Bikeman rider Colin Johannen and his wife on their tandem. This was an impressive sight as they were gaining and I, not knowing who they were, just kept pushing harder. At the aid station, they mentioned they entered the 50-mile race. Due to how steep the hills were, this is very impressive!
Around 2 miles from the finish, I was convinced I was off route. The blue arrows ended and I was now following pink arrows. Some guy with a curly mustache who I was lost with earlier crisscrossed my path two times. I mentioned to him I thought he was going the wrong way, all he mumbled was " Going this way." He may have been a ghost rider, still out there perhaps?
At the finish, just a very nice lady with a sign sticking out of her straw hat. I checked in and then proceeded to the potluck lunch offering everything from grilled chicken to home-baked cookies. Lunch was the reward.
So the ride was 62.3 miles, with my error, I rode 74 miles and climbed 7200' in 4:50 averaging 15.1mph and a top speed of 46mph.
This was a lot of fun and all ages and abilities came out. Great first experience with an organized gravel ride.
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