I woke up Sunday morning with a sense of dread. I just wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, I certainly didn’t want to go ride 60 miles of tough hills and gravel. I had spent the week working and getting over a cold, but I still didn’t feel good. I hadn’t ridden or even got my heart rate up all week and while I felt much better then last week, I just didn’t have the drive.
Fortunately I didn’t have a choice, this was my ride, as the leader of a ride I have responsibility. I dragged my ass out of bed and made ready. The Monte Carlo is back at 100% after Dad and I put on a catalytic converter, it purrs and now gets about 50% better gas mileage, so my car problems were no longer an excuse. I gathered up my supplies and headed out to cache them at Iron Furnace which would be our SAG stop.
I rolled into the parking area to see a healthy crowd getting ready for the ride. It’s a big ask for people to drive for a ride two weekends in a row and many of those finishing up last weekend weren’t planning on making this event. I was happy to see around 14 people for the ride.
The original route I had planned covered large sections of the River to River trail which are mostly gravel single track. After two snows I changed the route, sections of the trail were far too wet to ride cross bikes on, in fact that they were very difficult to just walk on. One of the biggest changes since we started these rides are the number of folks bringing gps devices with the map loaded. Which is great, except when the organizer releases 4 different maps.
After several years of making gains in my riding this year I’ve actually been back sliding a bit. The only significant riding I’ve got in so far this year have been the last two weekends, sure I’ve put in several hundred miles of spinning on the trainer, but as far as real multi hour base building rides I’m lacking.
The lack of preparation really showed about 40 miles into ride. Every hard effort on the pedals would result in a near cramp, my arms, back and shoulders ached. I was drinking my fluids up way too fast and I was losing my will to go on.
I decided to try my 28mm road tires, which didn’t offer quite as much grip, but the speed on smooth roads more then made up for it. Then again, maybe 28s aren’t quite tough enough, I pinch flatted twice and found myself without a tube. I tried my best to give up, but my friend Tom wouldn’t let me. Moe came back and hooked me up with a new tube and I carried on.
The ride had broken into two groups and eventually into 3 groups. The guy who finished first is named Justin and he’s a hardcore rider. Like 400 miles a week and eats gravel for breakfast kind of guy. He’s already ridden more miles in 3 months then many riders will do all year. I borrowed the pictures for this post from Justin’s facebook.
Those of us at the back were happy just to finish. At least I was, I tried to convince my fellow riders to take short cuts, and avoid the final climb up the dreaded BRUCE JOHNSON road. They would have none of it, they were in for the long haul. A fellow by the name of Shawn did the entire ride on a full suspension mountain bike, it took far more energy to drive those big tires through the ride, but when I cramped up so bad that I nearly fell off my bike within sight of the finish line he gave me a push to the end. I hate to say it but I really needed that push.
I’ve also got to give a big shout out to Hailey, the shop manager of Wood and Wave Cycles over in Grand Rivers Kentucky. She is the first woman to ride all 3 dirty south rides in the same year. Lets not forget, Tom, Moe, Tony, Caleb and JW who also completed the series this year.
This concludes the Dirty South Gravel series for the 2015 season. There is talk of trying to turn this thing into a more legit event next year, an actual race with support and whatnot. It’s a tough choice, we love the event and its underground nature, but we also want to see it grow and become more. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the last few years over 200 riders have showed up for these completely unsanctioned rides that take place in the middle of nowhere just because an internet post says there will be a ride taking place.
Thanks to everyone who came out, we’re really happy you came!