This years gravel grovel has come and gone. I was not sure what to expect this year since my back had issues a few weeks ago. Before the start of the race, I had not been on my bike in 3 weeks except to ride around the driveway to see if my chain would drop from my new cog. For some reason my SS was on my mind a lot around the time that I signed up, so I entered the SS class. I knew I could ride it that far and figured it would be a good way to go. I also knew that there might not bee too many people signed up, so if I had a good day I might be able to finish well, but it seems that a few fast guys signed up too. I was not really doing this to finish well so it didn’t matter. This was more of just riding and having a good time and seeing how well I can do.
I am happy with my ride this year. I was not sure what gear to put on my bike because of all the road sections. I would have a better idea if it was all single track, but I have not rode as much road. Even with all the road sections, there was plenty of good climbs mixed in there to keep it interesting too. I was torn between going 34×18 and 34×16. I told myself not to go too easy and ended up deciding that the 34×16 would be best. The problem I had next was that I could not find my 16t cog that I thought I had. It had been a long time since I had used it, so hard telling where it was.
This left me with either running the 18t cog or using a 16t cog that had been part of an old cassette that I took apart for the spacers. I cleaned it up and it looked to be in good shape, but I was not sure if the ramps would cause me any issues. I put it on and did a little test with it and everything seemed to work. I just hoped that when I hit some of those big hills that I didn’t get enough flex to have it drop off the cog. I really did not want to eat my stem out there.
The ride went well over all. I loved heading back down combs road and passing a lot of cross bikes and even got some air. Most of the SS class had pulled away by now except for Chuck. He was riding fixed or I think he would have dropped me too. I just kept doing what I could do and that is just turning the pedals over. I maintained what ever speed I could hold and climbed as much stuff as I could. I wish I could have climbed a few more hills, but over all I think I did a good job overall. The SS class started in the back, so as the day went on I kept reeling in some of the geared riders. Sometimes we would chat a while and sometimes we would not be together long.
I did ride with the Little 500 guy from the turn around back to the rest stop. Most guys I rode with thought I was crazy to be using one gear. I think he was the crazy one out there riding a Little 500 bike. Coaster brake, slick tires and a huge gear. He had to take it easy on the down hills, but he was flying for the rest of the course. He eventually caught back up to me and proceeded to drop me with ease. I could not believe some of the hills he was climbing with that crazy gearing. Mad props to him! He is an animal.
I was worried about cramping like I did last year, but it didn’t happen or at least as bad. I had thought to myself at the half way point that I was half way there and feeling great. 2 miles down the road my legs started to feel sluggish and I thought cramps were on the way. I had been drinking often and trying to eat the best I could. Shot blocks don’t work as good in the cold. They turn from gummy bears in to jolly ranchers.
My legs eventually started feeling better and things were going good. The road section before and after the bridge really hurt for some reason. It should have been easier, but it was one of the harder sections of the ride. When I hit the paved hill in the middle of no where, I knew I was getting closer to heading back. I was thankful that we would not be taking that left this year for the out and back and instead we would be heading right and back toward combs road. I made a quick stop at the rest area to get some more water and took off. My right calf was starting to twinge on every pedal stroke. I had 13 miles to go and was starting to fade.
My calf never did fully cramp, but my right thigh did on a big climb. So, I was trying to baby my legs for the rest of the ride. Combs road was good except for the climb. After that, I knew there was one more big climb and it was all down hill from there. I was feeling good as I rolled past the Nebo parking lot, but that road section was much longer then I was thinking and it was getting hard to keep the pace up the whole way, but some how I didn’t do too bad.
The day by the numbers was right at 62 miles in 5 hours with 3,730 feet of elevation gain. This was 15 min. faster then last year and with a lot less gears. I ended up in 7th place in SS, but that really does not mean as much as it sounds. I had also lost my pump at some point. Probably the first trip down combs when it was the coldest and I was flying. The mount snapped off the frame and took my pump along. Good think I didn’t need it. I saw a lot of flat tires.
Congrats to all the won and to everyone who finished. This is not a easy ride, but it does have some good scenery. I am sure I will be back next year if Mike decided to do this again. We will have to see on what bike when the time comes.