It is getting to be about that time of year again. I normally sit here wondering if I will finally be able to go sub 5 hours for the Gravel Grovel. Even this year I am wondering almost the same thing, but with one change. Doing some research on my past efforts trying to figure out the magic plan, I came across some information that was a little shocking to me. It seems that in 2010 I finished with a time of 4:59 breaking that elusive sub 5 hour mark. To add to that shocking feat I found that I did it on a SS MTB with huge fat tires and at a time when there was a lot more road sections on the race course then more recent years. My next fastest time was done on that same SS MTB, but with smaller 35mm tires. I really think I would have surpassed that time that year, but I had a flat near the end of the race and walked to the finish. Changing the tire would have taken a little bit of work and I thought I was almost there. I came to find out that I was not near as close to the end as I thought, but after walking a while I was too frustrated to give up and fix the tire. I have no idea how much time I spent walking, but I am sure it was well over the 15 minutes that I was over the 5 hours.
I have put in a good amount of riding at the end of this year and probably in the best condition that I have been going in to this event. I think I have the bike set up as fast as I can and hope to have some good legs show up Saturday morning. The temperature does not look too bad, but the chances of rain leading up to the event and that morning are not looking too good. That can plan a big part in how fast I can finish. The one good thing I have going for me is that typically I ride fairly well in that kind of stuff. I hope to get past the tough sections without any issues and set the cruise control for the final stretch.
Over the last month or so I have put in a lot more gravel/trail miles around here. I have also made two different trips to check out the different sections of the race route. I am confident in all of the intersections now and have a much better idea of some things to expect. I really enjoy group rides like the two scouting trips. It lets me ride with some people that I might not see too often or meet new people. The people are what make things even more fun than just riding my bike around. I can do that all alone and still have fun, but doing it with friends make it even better. I hope to see a lot of familiar faces this weekend, be it at the start line, finish line or somewhere in between. Be safe and keep the rubber side down.