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GW Hayduke

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hey all - 

   Anyone participate this year?  If so, care to share your experience and, if you felt you had a good ride, what training you did and maybe the specs on what you rode?

   I raced this year, and I got absolutely crushed.  I've never done anything like this ride before and am a total newb on gravel, but it took me 8+ hours to finish, and I walked a lot.  I mostly ride road, but I also ride a lot on gravel, but there's not a lot of places to ride around me that mimic those kind of conditions.  So, I try to make do with intervals and varied training on the trainer and outside.  Even having said that, I can't believe how hard this event was and am wondering if it was something in my training or bike setup that I missed, so I'd love to hear what others did.  I literally had nothing left in the last 10 miles or so...   

   FWIW, I rode a Salsa Warbird for this event, 1X gearing with 40 T up front and 11-36 in the back.  Tires were Panaracer gravelking SK 38s, tubeless.  The tire selection felt right gfiven the mix of gravel and road, but I definitely feel like I missed the gearing and should have had either a wider cassette or run 2X up front.  

Thanks all. 
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clarksonxc

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Reply with quote  #2 
Personally I haven't done this race, things keep coming up every year that prevent it.  But my friend who has finished TI has done this race, and your description matches his.  The elevation change is one thing, but the never ending tough surface conditions are another!  I'd like to hear some race recaps as well....
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jmal

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I didn't do it this year, but I did it in 2016.  I thought it was a great event. The aid stations were stocked and the staff were really friendly and helpful. It's a tough course with relentless hills, though none are that long.  Lots of mile long punches that really wear you down over the course of the day. I didn't train at all for it as I decided to do it sort of last minute. Going into it I just had my normal road and MTB miles without any real intensity.  I rode a 28 lb steel hardtail mtb with 2.30 Purgatory front and Ground Control rear.  The bike was fine, but I should have changed to some narrower, lighter gravel tires for the race.  Those tires were pretty heavy and had a ton of rolling resistance that I had to drag around all day. Not sure what I was thinking at the time, but I suspect I was just feeling lazy and didn't want to swap tires.

I rolled the initial paved section slowly, and then pushed too hard on the initial big climb. I definitely should have ridden within myself at that point. I continued to push as though it were a 40 miler ride which came back to haunt me later on.  Most of the day was spent back and forth with a dozen or so racers.  Near the end, my hamstrings started to cramp and I had to shut it down completely.  I watched a lot of people go by that I was certain I could best. This was my first experience with cramps, and strangely ever since then I have been more prone to them. I finished at around 7:20 if I remember correctly.  I think if I had ridden smarter and fueled better I could have come in 45-60 minutes sooner.

I agree that you were overgeared with the 40 up front.  The elite guys can push that gearing, but regular folks are going to suffer on those steep hills. I'm a fan of 2x and for the VA/WVA/PA/NC style climbs, I like MTB gearing.  I'm never completely spun out, and I always have enough to get up the hills.
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmal
I didn't do it this year, but I did it in 2016.  I thought it was a great event. The aid stations were stocked and the staff were really friendly and helpful. It's a tough course with relentless hills, though none are that long.  Lots of mile long punches that really wear you down over the course of the day. I didn't train at all for it as I decided to do it sort of last minute. Going into it I just had my normal road and MTB miles without any real intensity.  I rode a 28 lb steel hardtail mtb with 2.30 Purgatory front and Ground Control rear.  The bike was fine, but I should have changed to some narrower, lighter gravel tires for the race.  Those tires were pretty heavy and had a ton of rolling resistance that I had to drag around all day. Not sure what I was thinking at the time, but I suspect I was just feeling lazy and didn't want to swap tires.

I rolled the initial paved section slowly, and then pushed too hard on the initial big climb. I definitely should have ridden within myself at that point. I continued to push as though it were a 40 miler ride which came back to haunt me later on.  Most of the day was spent back and forth with a dozen or so racers.  Near the end, my hamstrings started to cramp and I had to shut it down completely.  I watched a lot of people go by that I was certain I could best. This was my first experience with cramps, and strangely ever since then I have been more prone to them. I finished at around 7:20 if I remember correctly.  I think if I had ridden smarter and fueled better I could have come in 45-60 minutes sooner.

I agree that you were overgeared with the 40 up front.  The elite guys can push that gearing, but regular folks are going to suffer on those steep hills. I'm a fan of 2x and for the VA/WVA/PA/NC style climbs, I like MTB gearing.  I'm never completely spun out, and I always have enough to get up the hills.


Nice ride report of this ride/race thanks. Thinking on doing this ride next year and might qualify for the oldest finisher ever. If you were going to do it again and ride 700 tires what would you ride 700 x 36 700 x 40 ETC.?  Have you ever tried Hammer Heed or other protein drinks to help with the cramping. I like that and have also tried acclelerade and know there are other protein drinks out there.

Zman

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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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jmal

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Reply with quote  #5 
Zman, I would run 700x40 such as the Panaracer Gravel King SK, which I think has been relabeled as a 700x43.  There are some fast descents that are worth having a little bit of cushion, but a 700x40ish tire rolls well enough on the paved connectors that you are not losing much compared to something narrower.

As for cramping, I think my issue is a combination of going too hard for my level of fitness, and not eating and drinking enough.  I tend to skimp on drinking a lot of the time.  It's something I'm working on, though in the past year we had a baby, so my rides have been so short that it's a non-issue right now.  I'll be back to the endurance events this fall. 

You should do the race if at all possible.  It's not the most scenic (but it is certainly nice in many places), but it is one of my favorites for some reason.  I drove four hours each way to get there and it was well worth it.
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmal
Zman, I would run 700x40 such as the Panaracer Gravel King SK, which I think has been relabeled as a 700x43.  There are some fast descents that are worth having a little bit of cushion, but a 700x40ish tire rolls well enough on the paved connectors that you are not losing much compared to something narrower.

As for cramping, I think my issue is a combination of going too hard for my level of fitness, and not eating and drinking enough.  I tend to skimp on drinking a lot of the time.  It's something I'm working on, though in the past year we had a baby, so my rides have been so short that it's a non-issue right now.  I'll be back to the endurance events this fall. 

You should do the race if at all possible.  It's not the most scenic (but it is certainly nice in many places), but it is one of my favorites for some reason.  I drove four hours each way to get there and it was well worth it.


jmal thanks for that info. You probably don't know it but my new goal after being hit by a drunk on a night roadie ride is to ride gravel in all 50 states but the kicker is it has to be a 50 mile ride for me to count. I am heading next weekend to WV to do the Gravel Race up Spruce Knob. One of the things that had keep me from doing this ride was I thought it might have some tech parts in it which I haven't done yet. I also understand about the not eating and drinking enough. In the excitement and not paying attention/and trying to watch my lines in a couple of the races so far I have not eaten or drank enough. On some others I have but there hasn't been enough of refueling stops or they have been too late. It's kind of what makes gravel racing unique and exciting as everyone is different on how they decide to do this. I have an invite from a local rider/racer that is pretty good to go down with him from Pa. Could you comment a little bit on whether there is some techy spots/aka single track or how much. The reason I ask this I know my friend is a long time mt. bike rider/racer and I didn't want to get into something way over my head. I do know that you can walk something that you aren't comfortable with but haven't had to do that yet except for a few uphills.lol

Thanks
Zman

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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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jmal

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Reply with quote  #7 
Zman, from what I remember, there is almost no technical riding at HBR.  I say this as one with a long history of riding MTB though.  There was one singletrack section that was literally about 100 feet long at the most, and it was not technical--just flat dirt.  Then there is the muddy road that you see in all the photos, I think it is called Little Indian Creek Rd or something like that.  It wasn't too bad the year I did it, but there were people falling over into the mud holes.  I just carried momentum right over the high ground and it was easy as can be.  Other than this, there are some slightly loose descents that are typical of hilly gravel roads, so you just keep your weight back, stay loose on the bars, and let the bike float under you. I don't remember anything that felt dangerous at all.  I've ridden plenty of mountainous gravel roads with washboarded switchbacks and very steep pitches that were treacherous, and a mistake could easily mean a trip to the hospital.  There is none of that at HBR, though you can get injured anywhere, so ride smart. Just do the race.  It is very well supported and a lot of fun.
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jmal

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Reply with quote  #8 
Zman, have you knocked Virginia off of your list?  If not, there are some great gravel rides that I can recommend.  My favorite is only 45 miles, but it is hard.  Just outside of Charlottesville.  Afterward, you can enjoy the town, a winery, a cidery, a brewery, restaurants, etc. 
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #9 
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Originally Posted by jmal
Zman, have you knocked Virginia off of your list?  If not, there are some great gravel rides that I can recommend.  My favorite is only 45 miles, but it is hard.  Just outside of Charlottesville.  Afterward, you can enjoy the town, a winery, a cidery, a brewery, restaurants, etc. 


No VA is still one I have to do. What is the 45 miler and are there any over 50 or 50? One thing I like in the gravel rides is low entry fees but I would pay a little bit more for one in Va. as I don't/wouldn't have airplane fares in it. 

Thanks 
Zman

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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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jmal

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Reply with quote  #10 
The Pantani Ride is the "45 miler."  I just looked up the garmin from the last one I did and it's actually 47 miles with 5,354 feet of climbing.  It has some horrendous climbs that make you wonder why you ride a bike.  It's a free event that runs in February, so the weather is often a factor. Some years it is in the teens, and the last one I did it was in the 70's which is very unusual.  Another one to look into is Gravelocity.  It runs in January and has a few distance options.  There is a 94 miler which fits your criteria for the 50 states goal. Lastly, there is Monstercross near Richmond in February. It is always the week after the Pantani ride.  It's more of an organized event that draws racers from the mid-atlantic region and beyond.  50 miles, but it's really two 25 mile laps.  It is fun, but probably not what you are looking for considering the drive.  The Pantani ride and Gravelocity are part of the Virginia Endurance Series, which is a series of free backcountry MTB, gravel, and rando events.  Look them up on Facebook.  Their regular website is really out of date.  There is another private event that I can provide more info on if you message me. It's free, happens in October, and is more of a mixed surface ride in the Blue Ridge.  You only need to bring two bottles of Chimay for the entry.  I'm sure there are more things happening that I'm not aware of, and of course I have routes that I used to ride that are not events, but fun nonetheless.  I'm not really too active on strava, so most of my rides are not recorded, but here is an example of a typical Virginia leg breaker:

https://www.strava.com/activities/699442371

Sadly, I no longer live in VA.  It's really an ideal state for cycling.
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GW Hayduke

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Reply with quote  #11 
Thanks for all of the info jmal.  Re: a 2x front setup, any recommendations?  I'm looking at either 47/32 or 46/30, but have never ridden either.  Thanks again.  

Zman - one point I can confirm from jmal's previous posts is that there is little to no singletrack on the Hilly Billy.  It's definitely not a super-technical ride.  Also, re: tires, I rode panaracer gravelking sk 38s, but i believe they measure close to 40.  In any event, they were all I could stuff in the rear triangle of my bike.  
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jmal

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Reply with quote  #12 
GW, If it were me, and I were doing long rides/races in hilly terrain, I would go for the 46/30.  The 30 is nice when you are deep into a day of riding and you hit steep/long climbs.  The 46 is plenty for any ride I've ever done. At 90 rpm, you are getting close to 31 mph with an 11t cog.  Nobody is maintaining that kind of speed on a gravel bike.  When descents get fast, I'm no longer pedaling, so a bigger gear is not necessary. 
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GW Hayduke

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Reply with quote  #13 
All good points - we're in the same same boat for sure.  I'm not likely to hit 31 mph unless it's downhill with a stiff wind!

Thanks jmal.    
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