An abridged version of this post is over on Instagram, if you want to see some lovely photos.
With race season over, I thought a little race recap was in order. Here are my thoughts on each race and stage:
- Old Man Winter Rally. Brrrrr. Incredibly cold feet by the end. And the conditions in a couple parts–like Bow Mountain Rd–were super dicey. Overall though, I would highly recommend, just with dedicated cold weather biking footwear and maybe an extra layer + warm gloves for the Sunshine descent.
- Boulder Roubaix. For a race we signed up for last minute in the middle of a training cycle, this was my favorite race of the year and I ended up with 5th place in Cat 5. If I had known that a podium spot was within reach, I would have changed my tires and pushed much harder in the beginning gravel sections to break the group apart. Who knew you could race gravel and be done in an hour?
- CO2UT. Canceled thanks to a heavy downpour the afternoon before turning parts of the course into deep, sticky mud. The Colorado Monument was a nice consolation prize. Still, I felt
readyfor this race and thought I was going to nail it. Bummer.
Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder (OTGG)
- Day 1. Miles of loose, deep sand. Oof! The short downhill volcanic rock bit hardly qualified as a trail but was crazy fun. The downhill sections on gravel roads were a bit cursed with many small branches on the road and dappled light, which made it a bit hard to make sure you were not going to hit a branch and crash. Those downhills made me want those fancy photochromic bike sungalsses.
- Day 2. The nearly 4000' climb in the beginning was boring. The latter half was way more fun, especially needing to navigate over short snowbanks. More dappled light on the gravel roads, which caused me to hit a pothole so hard that both water bottles went flying and I was fearful my gravel wheels were finished. Thankfully not.
- Day 3. Despite the warm temps and a stick in my derailleur, I hit the uphill TT hard and felt proud that I did as well as I did. The taco stand aid station was not appealing to me, I would have greatly preferred a cooler of ice with tasty drinks (the one they had was empty). The downhill TT was a bit nuts and my life flashed before my eyes when a rider in front of me fishtailed and nearly lost it.
- Day 4. Hot, dry conditions, one aid station without ice, next aid station without any drinks besides warm water. Miles and miles of loose sand at the end. Got bad heat exhaustion and probably needed a trip to the ER for an IV. Ended up feeling ill all night.
- Day 5. I bailed and got a ride to the finish. Another 80 miles in that heat and exposure seemed like a recipe for disaster.
- NedGravel Ultra. Got COVID less than 2 weeks before the race thanks to Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder and did not race. Bummer. I was looking forward to that course.
- Stage 1, Adventure Day. I survived and did not crash! I do not enjoy racing such tight, tough conditions with riders right on my tail, but I do always gain more skills on race days like this. Lost a nearly full water bottle with 59g of carbs in it, so I had to ration my water and snacks on the Harriman Trail section. Did not bonk but I was definitely drained at the end and needed a couple recovery shakes to rebound.
- Stage 2, Dollarhide Time Trial. Holy shit, Tina did not catch up to me! She only beat me by time by 0.6s. Maybe I'm not complete shit?
- Stage 3, Baked Potato. Fuck the heat. Fuck the dry, dusty roads. Curse the 20mph+ head winds. And large pickup trucks barreling down roads kicking up huge clouds of dust can go straight to hell. Even on day 4 of Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder I did not consider quitting but I almost quit during this stage of RPI. Fairly wrecked at the end and I have sworn off ever doing this race in the heat again.
My overall place for RPI:QSR was higher than expected and by the numbers I did well, especially considering how COVID kicked my ass and killed my fitness in July. Still, that race was almost entirely Type 3 fun, which is not how I like riding my bike, so I think QSR and OTGG are the sort of races I will be avoiding in the future. Bring on the autumn weather!