Sunrise: (from left) Peter Krause (Cycle City KC), eventual 2nd place finisher, Joe Fox (Cycle City KC), 3rd place finisher, Matt Gersib (Salsa Cycles/Monkey Wrench). Photo: CornbreadOfficial Results -- From Cornbread:
It might have been easy to think that because the Good Life Gravel Adventure was "just" 135 miles long, it was going to be significantly easier than the longer, rougher Dirty Kanza 200. For several reasons however -- deep gravel and sand, rough washboards and nasty dust -- it was a tough nine and a half hours in the saddle.
The course was significantly tougher than I thought it'd be. Two sections -- Pella Road from miles 64-75 and Branched Oak road from about miles 105-120 -- were definite decision makers. Pella Road especially... it was the one that "lost the race" for me. Ironically, it was there that I was trying so hard to win the race, but in the end, the only person I ended up beating was myself. You'd think I'd learn after all these years... but like a dog chasing after a juicy bone, I dutifully toiled away hill after hill, long pull after long pull until I no longer could pedal my bike and literally had to sit down on the side of the road and find food in my bag to feed myself at about mile 75. I thought I was done. It was dismal.
But that's the beauty of races this long. You have the time to recover from complete meltdown, and you can bring it around pretty well. And I did. I got a pretty good rally going after my little stop at mile 75 and it carried me through the rest of the race for all intents and purposes. I wasn't rocket fast, but I was consistent at least. And heading north towards Denton and onto Malcolm with the wind at my back, I was able to conserve a little energy on the rolling salt valley topography.
I had the enviable task of choosing my weapon for the Good Life Gravel Adventure, and I decided to go with the super light weight of my Salsa Chili Con Crosso. I lent my trusty Salsa La Cruz to my good buddy Fob, who rode it to 15th place in his second ride ever on the bike -- great ride, my friend. In many ways, I was wishing to be on my La Cruz, with its larger, softer and more compliant tires. It would have made the washboard roads and deep gravel a lot easier to take, but I also enjoyed having the light wheels and overall light, responsive weight of the Con Crosso on the other hand, and the Tufo tubular/clincher tires I was running (at 45psi) rode as compliant as a 30c 'cross tire could possibly be expected to ride, so I wasn't exactly being abused out there. It's just a matter of perspective. Regular blog readers know I typically skew towards fat tires.
Overall, the first Good Life Gravel Adventure was a total success, as far as I'm concerned. The course was tough, the event pulled people from out-of-state with virtually no marketing and the method of running the event (using lottery tickets at the towns we passed through) worked seamlessly). It was just about perfect! I'm looking forward to a bigger, even better event in 2009!
Great work and my sincere thanks to Cornbread and the Pirate Cycling League! Thanks also to my sponsors, Monkey Wrench Cycles, Salsa Cycles and Rob Versteegth at Oakley, for your support of my riding and racing!
Links to more:
Pirate Cycling League site -- results, events and more.
More pics on Cornbread's blog -- there are some good ones!