Friday, August 27, 2010

The Gravel World Championships

first of all, i'd like to thank all all the PCL folks for putting on an event that was: 1) well organized 2) challenging 3) fun 4) didn't cost an arm and a leg and 5) full riders who were skilled and friendly. special thanks to Cory for putting on the event and thanks to CVO for providing some mobile oasis action to riders on the route.

rafal and i headed to lincoln on friday night for rider check-in and enjoy some yia-yia's pizza with the PCL crew. after that, we ready the bikes and hit the hay. 4am, we are up and at em for the 515 rider check-in and pre-race meeting. we make small talk with the folks who we met the year before. 6am we are on the road. a flurry of bike lights hit the road in search of gravel glory. pretty soon the really fast group pulls away around mile 3, followed by the fast group around mile 5. the high dew point and fast pace quickly soaks your kit. no worries though, the low 70s temp makes things aight.
i pull into the first checkpoint feelin great! 38 miles down in under 2.5 hours. the really fast guys have come and gone. i fill up the water bottles and am back in the saddle. everything is going well until mile 50. hello cramps. i take it easy, push some electrolyte tabs and continue on. the temp continues to climb, but im feeling great. i arrive in in malcom, around mile 70 in under five hours. im feelin great. i push some calories and some fluids. miles 70-80 are cake and im cruising with a north wind. the oasis location at mile 80 proved to be a very welcoming place. shade, cool water, and friendly folks. i fill up two more water bottles, take a double shot of gatorade concentrate, enjoy some tasty tomatoes, make some small talk about oasis-host Jane's garden and am back on the road. Miles 80-100 were so so....and then...pain. my pace up to this point was somewhere around 14-15mph. From mile 100-111 the pace slowed down as the temps rose. it was at that point i realized there's no shame in walking up a hill at 4mph when you can only ride up it at 5mph. my strategy was to sprint down the hills, coast for a bit, and try to maintain as much momentum as i could on the uphill portion of the rollers. that works great for hills that are close to each other. not so much for the long 1/4mile hills. i pull into some shade, drink some water and some electrolyte tabs and assess the siuation. only 10 miles left to hickman, water supply is going down, and im starting to get headaches. the breaks are getting more frequent and longer. i know something wasnt right when i kept refering to my cue sheet every few minutes, stopped sweating, and started getting goose bumps. this is not good. i gotta hand it to CVO. that guy was crusing down the road and was filling up everybody's waterbottle. i fill three water bottles and hit the road again. the gas tank was empty. the last 10 miles took around 90 minutes. i pull into hickman and see jamie and fenway relaxing in some shade. jamie said i looked like hell and wasnt speaking in very coherent sentences. with 90+ temps and high humidity, i decided to pull the plug with 40 miles to go.

the takeaways from this are to maintain a better hydration plan. although i drank 14-some bottles of fluid, i should prolly pack a camel back for an extra 100oz of cold water. one positive takeaway was that I got to 111 miles faster on this ride than to 100 miles on the dirty kanza 200. This trend of DNF's will have to stop if i want to maintain any type of gravel glory. or maybe i just need to get some more training rides in hot weather or race when it's cooler weather.

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