This last weekend was this years Gravel Grovel. A few weeks ago I secured a bike for Kyle to ride again in this years event. The weekend before the race, my ride was not very good. This made me question how bad I really wanted to ride my SS for that long. I tried to figure out what kind of bike I could figure out to ride that would have gears and hold plenty of water. I had one of the other, but not too many options for both.
I ended up putting a 34t front ring on the 1×9 Misfit and swapped out the wheels from the set on the Surly. I ended up being busy all week and not working on my bike until Friday. I had trouble getting the chain to stay in the small gear in the back. No matter what I did, it would not work. This left me with a 1×8 and with out the largest gear combo. I gave up and loaded up for the weekend.
We were staying in one of the cabins. They were priced great and even had heat. This was a great thing with how cold it was going to get. Everyone else showed up and some good times were had. He headed to bed early enough to get a little rest. The morning came early enough and time to get ready. It was plenty cold outside. My Gatorade was more like a slushy. I messed up the coffee and the cookies were frozen like a rock. Things were off to a good start or well maybe not.
I thought I put enough gear on, but it was less than what I would have normally worn. At times it was warm and at more times it could have been a little warmer. Overall I could put up with all my parts freezing. Before I knew it, we were signed up and sitting at the start. Some directions were given soon we were off. I didn’t want to be too far toward the front, but this didn’t help when we hit the bridge. There was a bottle neck with people making sure they didn’t get a tire stuck in the gaps.
Everything started off good. We headed to the out and back with a couple of good groups of riders. On the way back Kyle slipped away from me with the rest of the group on one of the hills. I figured he would notice I was not there and wait up for me, but this didn’t really happen. I went to make a quick stop and the first rest area. I didn’t really need anything, but I knew it would be a little bit to get out to Story. I topped off a bottle and had a little snack. Things were on track right up to the point that Jonathan was looking for someone to be the first to take a beer. I was not the quickest to get there, but I did grab the second one.
This took a me a little longer to get out of the stop then it should have, but the beer sure was tasty. I hammered on toward Combs road. Before long I was past the gate and in the tight sections. I saw Kyle at the bottom of the big climb. I hollered a few things toward him and wanted to climb the hill. I powered on and climbed away. Some of the front runners came down the hill and I had to watch my line to keep from having to stop. After I worked my way to the top, I stopped to wait. After about a half hour, I figured that maybe he was already on his way back from Story and was mad I waited. I headed on to the next stop.
I took a quick break to use the warm bathroom. I then figured I already had one, I might as well have another beer. So, I talked to Charles a little and enjoyed another beer. I kept thinking that the next rider around the bend would be Kyle, but that never happened. The climb after the Nebo parking lot is just crazy. I kept turning the pedals over and trying to keep warm and off the bike as quickly as possible. It was not easy going past the last rest stop when the were yelling out that they had beer. I knew my time was not going to be what I wanted, so what would it hurt if I stopped. What would hurt is my backside when I got on the bike again.
From the stop on seemed like it was down hill and before I knew it, I was crossing the bridge. I knew that I didn’t have that far to go and kept on the gas. The last creek crossing put me in the parking lot and ready for some food. I changed quickly and headed for some good Yats. I really have no idea what I ate, but it sure was good. I hope to figure out where this place is so I can go eat there some time. After two plates of food, the awards were started.
My hope was to finish in under 5 hours. I have been real close to 5 two years ago and last year I finished in 5:21 with walking a flat tire the last several miles. Those times were all on a SS and since I was on a geared bike, I figured the 5 hours should be a reasonable goal. The goal was just not met. I felt like I was riding good enough to be close, but I ended up finishing in 6:05 and in 129th place overall. I also ended up 61st in the 40+ class. I guess that is not too bad, but not really what I had hoped. I knew I was not in the shape I should be.
Overall it was a good time. That was really my main goal. That and get some miles in my legs. I did have a great time and put the miles in. I won a Jersey and ended up catching a hat and bottle opener. I also ate some good food and hung out with some good friends. What else would one ask for.
I want to thank Tania and Jonathan for putting in the hard work to pull off such a great event. I want to thank all the volunteers that helped them make this happen. I also want to thank all the sponsors and the Midwest Trail Riders for allowing us to use there place as a start finish area. I want to thank Phil at Adventures Recreation for allowing Kyle to borrow his new bike that he had yet to ride. With all of this, it is no wonder I keep finding myself looking forward for Thanksgiving and the Gravel Grovel. I will be back again next year, but hard telling what king of bike I will have. See you there!