|Jeff Kerkove just after winning the 200 mile Spotted Horse Gravel Ultra- Image courtesy of the Spotted Horse|
I had him tabbed to win it all along, as soon as I heard he was on the roster for the Spotted Horse Gravel Ultra. He's not an unknown, at least not to me. I know not many have heard of Jeff on the gravel side of bicycle racing, but he's won lots of solo 24hr races, been a contender in really high altitude mtb ultras, and you know, he is from Iowa, after all.
Jeff cut his teeth, in terms of cycling, on gravel. He trained for miles, hundreds- maybe thousands of miles, all over Iowa on gravel roads. He raced in the first Trans Iowa. Gravel racing, riding techniques, and most importantly, how to ride for a hell of a long time, are not things foreign to this guy. That's why when I read things like, "It was only his fifth gravel race!", I have to snort with laughter.
But I know about this guy.
I haven't hung around Jeff for many years now, but in my short time that I was blessed to do so, I can tell you that I have never met anyone else with such a strong sense of discipline than he has. Jeff was determined, loyal to the plan he set for himself, and had that "it", that mental attribute, that you cannot teach. If everything went right, Jeff was going to contend for the win. I doubt he's changed much in the last decade, so when he won, I wasn't at all surprised.