Thursday, August 27, 2015

Gravel Worlds '15: Final Thoughts

Checkpoint #2 Image courtesy of Scott Redd
The Gravel Worlds race didn't go as planned, and I sat in a hotel room on the edge of a bed watching it rain and lightning thinking about Tony still out there and the rest of the folks slugging it out for a finish. It was a bittersweet way to cap off what had been a great, fun, and physically tough weekend.

Tony did finish, by the way. It took him until 10:00pm, and he had to wait out a freight train and a thunderstorm, but he did it. I probably slowed him down a bit, but it was good to know he got it done.

My performance went about like Odin's. It was great until it got hot and then I wilted. Odin's wasn't like Gravel Worlds though, because I wasn't dehydrated like I was this past weekend. Ah well....... Things to work on. Things learned and to learn more about. My old friend Jeff Kerkove always said that everything has to be "just right" and if one thing gets off- be that mechanical, physical, nutritional, or environmental, then you have a lot less chance of finishing these longer distance races. I could not control the weather and maybe that was my downfall, but there are things I can improve upon on my end and some of those things I've already started doing.

I'm not having a pity party though. I am moving on, and I am pretty stoked about many things that were right last weekend. Not the least of which was how I was able to roll the big hills and in my bike handling, which was due in part to the Tamland Two.

The Tamland Two worked perfectly
The event was not as vastly different as I expected it to be after not having been to it for four years and certainly was worth all of the entry fee. The start was "okay", and was exactly as it had been in the past, only now the crowd is so big that if you stand in the back, you cannot hear what is being laid down. Not that this mattered to me, but for a first timer? Maybe they might feel a bit less apprehensive if the could hear the final instructions.

What was different was the level of the competition. With folks like Neil Shirley, Brian Jensen, Yuri Hauswald, and Rebecca Rusch coming out, this is more like Dirty Kanza, in terms of firepower, than it is many of the other events. I was interested in the tactics of the American Classic team that showed up. They had about five riders in the front group and tried to "road race" the event, but obviously, they misjudged how these events generally are won. Over the years, it always seems that a couple guys break away and just grind off the rest of the field, and that is exactly the way it went down at Gravel Worlds. In the gravel racing world, strong men and women tend to stand out on their own. Team tactics, for whatever reason, haven't been successful........yet. Maybe someday that will change. I'm just glad we don't have team cars, race radios, or any of that BS out there. That isn't what this is about.

The field was filled with all types of folks doing the event for all types of reasons. The set ups and garb were all over the place. It was as eclectic as ever, from my point of view, despite what some folks think. This is good, and this is representative of what gravel grinding is all about for me. Gravel Worlds is still one of the better events one could choose to go ride. That in itself is quite an accomplishment for the Pirate Cycling League. All involved should be proud, and I tip my hat to you great gals and guys on another event well done. Thank you!

The Reinkordts at their farm. Image courtesy of Scott Redd
Speaking of thank you's........

Thank You: Once again- thanks to Tony McGrane for being my traveling companion, doing all the driving to and from, and for patiently putting up with me during my meltdown at the end of my day. Congratulations on your longest ride ever! Thank you to all of the PCL- Corey, Schmidty, and all the rest of the volunteers. Top notch folks, and a well run event. Thank you to the Reinkordts. You are gracious and very kind people which the world needs more of. Thanks to Yuri Hauswald for your time before the event. Thank you to Cycle Works and Craig Sonderup for the pre-event venue. Thanks to the young couple and their baby daughter that gave me a lift back to Lincoln. I am sorry that I've forgotten your names, but I wasn't quite "all there". I do remember your faces and that you were extremely gracious to me.

If I've missed anyone- THANK YOU.

Okay, so that's a wrap on my "racing season", such as it was. Now I aim to have fun on bicycles, get T.I.v12 together, and work on becoming better at these long slogs, if I can. Thank you for reading! 

1 comment:

Rob E said...

Kris Sonderup is the owner of Cycle Works.