Ok, it's time to recap Gravel Worlds...or what I remember of it!
My family ended about a 2 week long vacation in Lincoln, NE for Gravel Worlds, after bopping around out west, visiting many National Parks. I had hoped to ride more while out there but it just never really worked. I did manage a few shorter rides to freshen up the legs. The trip was a blast and I'm sure one we won't forget.
To the race...
Standing around at the start of the race I was cold, yes cold! Overnight it rained a bunch and a cold front had made it's way into town. What a change from the oppressive heat and humidity of the previous year. The first 3 miles were on pavement and led out by a support vehicle. It was not your typical "neutral" roll out. We were flying! At 3 miles we took a left on to the gravel and the real race started. Because of the overnight rain the hard pack gravel I experienced the day before during course recon was replaced with soft, life sucking gravel.
I was no longer cold and sweating pretty good in efforts to keep on the groups wheel. Up a slight hill I was pushed to the side and all but stopped in the sand. That was enough to have me lose the group. For the next ten miles I put my head down and gave chase.
I was able to close the gap and joined the group of about 20 riders.
The group soft pedaled through a town, giving me false hope of hanging on! On the other side of town the pace quickened and I once again found myself off the back...chasing. I never felt "on". The legs were ok as were the lungs but I was just missing the extra something. I was bummed. I put a lot of effort and work into riding in hopes of maintaining or bettering my results from last year, 6th. I struggled with the head games a bit.
The first checkpoint came quickly and I stopped long enough to check in but didn't refuel, a benefit of the cooler temps. In doing so I passed several riders. I joined a group of about 6/7 riders. Which contained the previous 3 year winning single speeder, another single speeder, and a fat bike...what?! A few miles out of the second checkpoint I rode away from the group. As I rolled up I saw Ted Loosen waiting for me! Man was I stoked but also hated being "that" guy that someone had to wait for. I apologized to Ted and he reminded me never to say sorry and that who cares if you get 12th or 20th. The race up front was gone, it was time to ride for fun!
I filled the bottles, slammed a Coke, and we were gone. I was feeling pretty good and was able to ride with Ted pretty equally. We reeled in two riders, one of which was the 3th place finisher last year, and rode with them for several miles.
As the miles ticked by and the hills (never ending) continued I started to fade. Eventually I realized I hadn't been eating very much. Doh...I know better, damn. After the food made it's way into my system I felt better again. However the depletion of energy was there and would plague me the rest of the ride. My attitude, once again, got to me and I let the group of 3 ride away. I encouraged Ted to go on but he refused and stuck by me.
On the way to the last checkpoint we were joined by a few other riders. We took our time filling bottles, eating sandwiches, Dorritos, drinking Coke, etc. While there more riders trickled in. Not liking crowds while biking I was getting antsy to leave.
With a bit over 20 miles left the end was nearing! That alone gives you an extra push! We fell into a group of about 6 or so riders, one being the 2nd place finisher of RAAM this year. For the most part I felt pretty good during this stretch. Maybe I just need 100+ miles to warm up! We lost a rider or two on our way to the finish but nothing crazy happened.
I ended up finishing 16th, which is better than I would have thought, with a time of 9 hours and 8 minutes.
I wasn't as bummed as I thought I may be. A lot of that goes to Ted as he helped remind me it's for fun and that we all have good and bad days. Despite being a hilly (10,000 feet), long course I love Gravel Worlds. Never does a 150 (145) miles go by so fast.
I do think 2 weeks off prior to the race may have been a bit much...for me...mostly mental. I am still a bit annoyed I let my nutrition slide, I'm usually spot on. Live and learn I guess.
Already thinking about next year!
Thanks to Corey and the Pirates for a great event!