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Zurichman

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First before I go any further I would like to thank everybody on this forum who helped this newbie with getting my bike set up right.

2nd I dropped back(due to lack of proper training smart move) to the what was suppose to be the 66 mile ride but they had it set up as 74 and the 120 turned out to be 125. I ended up doing the ride self supported. 

If you love gravel riding doesn't have to be racing you need to go to this event. The town pulls out all the stops to help the riders and give them support. I sent numerous emails to them and they answered all my questions and did some things for me since I was an out of state rider. I was hoping to win a set of bar mitts for the rider that came the longest distance. One came from Md/FL/myself from Pa and the winner from Ca. They had a free spaghetti feed Friday night before the ride which was just ok. Was was really super was the swag giveaways after the rider's meeting.

They probably had 50-75 give away items. It probably lasted at least 1/2 hr. Lots was donated from the Pathfinder bike shop

The shop gave away what looked like a $1500 Specialized gravel bike
custom wheel build set from somewhere in FL $500 value built to your specs
lots of sets of bar mitts
something I had never seen before A nylon bottle holder sack that fastened to your handlebars to keep the dust off your bottle
lots of lubes and plenty of other giveaways.

I flew out Thursday. Did a shakedown ride on Friday which was a 14 mile out and back for a 28 mile ride. I rode out to what they called the KOM which was about a 200 ft. hill at 14% grade at around 12 miles. First man and woman to the top won something and think they even had it to 3 places. I went to drink from my water bottle and it seemed to have 1/4" of dust on top of it. Yikes Welcome to gravel grinding. [smile] Race day over slept as I couldn't sleep and then finally must went to sleep as it was time to get up. Threw on my cycling shorts finished packing out the car and grabbed a bit to eat at the hotel and off to the ride which was 3 miles from the hotel. Race is really low key from what I saw around 180 riders.

I knew I pretty much had to ride a perfect ride to finish. Because of collarbone pain I had been off the bike for 2 months about and managed a 28 mile training ride the Monday before the ride. I wanted to ride a couple of more but it was raining too hard.

Race day temps was 60 deg. F @ the 7 AM start perfect. Neutral roll out by police out of town for about a mile to the first left on river road. Because of being dry for a month all the gravel roads were really rutty. They went out and graded them which was much better but lots of loose dirt. I don't wear glasses so when the pack took off nothing but a cloud of dust. I was eating dust in the ole eyeballs for the first couple of miles.

Did manage to ride around one guy for awhile. Made it to the first rest stop CP-1 ok. Food there turkey wrap/Cherry Pepsi and a banana. My motto has always been If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. One guy was having that kind of day. He was running skinny hybrid tires tubed at that and was walking around the 32 mile marker saying he had 4 flats already and he was out of the ride. The kicker is he had to walk 4 miles to the rest stop. I want to thank for the suggestion of the Kenda Flintridge Pro 40 mm tubeless. I pretty much could throw the bike around any where I wanted to and not worry about flats. I guess I was around 200 lbs. for the ride. I rode 40 in the rear and 35 in the front. I was worried about the weight of the Tamland at 25 lbs but that wasn't a worry at all. The steel bike just seemed to soak up all the bumps. Once it started rolling no problem. Here is where I almost made a fatal mistake and was very lucky. Because of the excitement of the ride, at least looking for lines I wasn't eating while on the bike. I got lucky. After the 1st rest stop I pretty much rode alone but since it is so wide open I retty much could always see a rider ahead which is a morale booster. Arrived at the 2nd rest stop CP-2 and was having things heading South some. I knew I had to get some major calories in me. So another turkey wrap/Pepsi/ice tea/banana/ and some major Amish macaroni salad. Surprised they had that in Kansas. When things go South for me Ice tea works I filled up a bottle of ice tea and used that the rest of the ride. Starting out I always use a bottle of water followed by a bottle of Accelerade which helps me from cramping up.

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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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Zurichman

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Right away leaving the 2nd rest stop I had some tightness in both quads probably due to lack of calories. It also was warming up and now was around 90 deg. F Right around 62 miles I lost all but one of my cue sheets. I use Bar Map for road riding but it doesn't seem to like the bumps of gravel racing as this was the 2nd time I lost them. The first time they hit my leg and I stopped. They hit my leg again but on the last 2 sheets. It was really a bumpy downhill and I was letting it rip. It probably was the only time the bike felt squirrely but I was booking 30-32  mph downhill and was hitting some deep loose gravel. I think any tire would have busted loose there.

64.4 miles in the 75 miler they had the Brewski Hill Challenge for a free beer. Probably a good 200 feet not too steep but kind of rocky. As long as you could ride it without you putting a foot down you earned a free beer. They wanted you to win a free beer. Now came the technical section which I didn't have a chance to ride on the bike yet. It was in Alcove Spring Historical Trail Parks system. Started out with some windy steep not much of a chance to build speed up grass single track. Followed up by a really steep short rocky ruff section. They said something about this at the riders meeting but I didn't catch it. Somehow I locked both brakes up sand slid down the hill me and the bike as one. It happened way to fast to even have white knuckles. lol This was followed by some single windy single track. Pretty tired by now but just left the bike roll and after each turn was a wooden bridge to cross which had some tight turns in it. At least it was cool in the woods. At the beginning of the ride I was sitting up enjoying the ride so much that I didn't want it to be over. Now I had my head down and wanted it to be finished. It was windy at times and I had no one to tuck in behind of. I could see the water town from town and knew I was close to the finish. I kind of call this No Man's Land. In your head you pretty know you have it in the bag but then you know something can always happen and it could be tuff at the end. Both quads did start cramping up some about 2-3 miles from the finish but I soft pedaled some on the downhills to work that out. Made it to the finish line and sprinted the last 100 yards. I had a blast. After the race I had a chance to talk to some veteran gravel riders/racers and talk to them about races they had done/liked and would go back to again.

If I wasn't the newbie to gravel racing I would go to this race again. If you haven't gone you need to go to it.

My stats
75.34 miles
time 6:37:03
total time 7:10
avg. speed 11.38 mph
elevation gain 4,333 ft.

way too much fun.

If you haven't pick this up yet yes I think I will like gravel riding/racing

They also have some great pics on The Pony Express 120 Facebook site if you wanted to see them

Finally No Kansas isn't flat that is unless you are riding it in a SUV or Jeep

Thanks again to everybody
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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xhx

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Reply with quote  #3 
Glad you made it out, I was there too on the long course [smile]. Only change I would have made to my setup is higher volume tires, 37mm wasn't nearly enough especially on all that fresh singletrack. I'm definitely keeping this one on the calendar for next year. Awesome area to ride in, good promoter and the town was really cool. I'll bring my family along next year.
Edit: here's my ride data, I still think the climbing my Garmin reported is low. https://ridewithgps.com/trips/17574956
...and a shot from the KOH climb. It happened so early in the race it didn't seem that bad.

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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #4 
Coming from Pa. I somewhat laughed at the KOM xhx as we might not even call it a hill but hey you are in Kansas so it is what it is. I did think before riding there that Kansas was flatter and all of those rolling hills does take a somewhat of a toll on you after awhile because of all the other gravel riding. Someone on this forum told me to try the Kenda Flintridge Pro 40 mm and they worked really well for me. With all the races out there I don't think I will be back next year from Pa. to do the 120 but after doing some other races I will go back and do the 120. Limited vacation time/money etc. determines that.  I am glad you enjoyed the 120 and no I have never seen so much swag giveaways at a riders meeting. They also went over and beyond helping me out since I was flying in from out of state. I was really hoping to win the bar mitts for traveling the farthest but it wasn't in the cards.

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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dangle

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Reply with quote  #5 
Good job Zman. Congrats.
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dangle
Good job Zman. Congrats.


 Thanks if was a blast and became addicted to gravel racing/riding during the ride.

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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jruhlen1980

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xhx
Glad you made it out, I was there too on the long course [smile]. Only change I would have made to my setup is higher volume tires, 37mm wasn't nearly enough especially on all that fresh singletrack. I'm definitely keeping this one on the calendar for next year. Awesome area to ride in, good promoter and the town was really cool. I'll bring my family along next year. Edit: here's my ride data, I still think the climbing my Garmin reported is low. https://ridewithgps.com/trips/17574956 ...and a shot from the KOH climb. It happened so early in the race it didn't seem that bad.


Nice work man, and on a SS! I always think SS sounds like a good idea until I ride by one of you guys on the back half and see the pain faces...

Yeah with the races (especially in the midwest) there's never one single hill that's all that bad -- I especially thought they really oversold Brewski Hill at the end there -- it's the cumulative effect of getting worn down over 100-200 miles of repeated 50-foot climbs.


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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jruhlen1980


Nice work man, and on a SS! I always think SS sounds like a good idea until I ride by one of you guys on the back half and see the pain faces...

Yeah with the races (especially in the midwest) there's never one single hill that's all that bad -- I especially thought they really oversold Brewski Hill at the end there -- it's the cumulative effect of getting worn down over 100-200 miles of repeated 50-foot climbs.




jruhlen I became kind of close with the ride promoters since I was out of state and some of the help they gave me. Talking to them after the race they actually wanted ever body to climb that hill and win the free beer. They did have to clear a guy out of the course along with his bike as I was getting close as he had crashed 1/2 way up.  I know I had around 4,333 feet of climbing in the 75 miles which in itself is kind of wild with as flat as the rest of the course was. I live in rolling hills here in Pa. and would have about the same amount of climbing in a 75 mile ride so yes I found out Kansas isn't flat. lol Yes the cumulative shorts hills do beat you up after awhile. In the roadie background that I came from lots of rides like to bag that they have all this elevation gain(hoping that will draw you to their ride)and then when you do the ride it isn't what they have claimed. Three hardest single days on the East Coast that I have done Nightmare Tour of Lancaster County 178 miles 16,000 ft. or so Highlander tour in the Finger Lakes NY 100+ miles one spot was @ 23% slope I saw a guy fall off his bike he was going so slow. Finally The Assault on Mt. Mitchell.

xhx I didn't catch that you rode the single speed. Guessing because of being a roadie I see it as a fixie or fixed gears. Big time congrats man.

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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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #9 
Zman - congratulations. A few thoughts -- I hope the gravel racing scene stays like this. Most folks riding for fun and friendship; not glory. Maybe I'll join you one of these days -- but at something we can both drive to.
Cheers- Bob
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Zurichman

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobknh
Zman - congratulations. A few thoughts -- I hope the gravel racing scene stays like this. Most folks riding for fun and friendship; not glory. Maybe I'll join you one of these days -- but at something we can both drive to.
Cheers- Bob


Thanks Bob I would love to ride with you sometime. I would agree with you that I also hope gravel riding stays this way grass roots. You ride with people all day and make new friends and there doesn't have to be a sprint to the finish line. I compare it to rando or randonneuring riding which I also enjoy. Besides that you can never have too many cycling friends. I am thinking strong of flying out to Nebraska next spring to do Gravel Worlds. Is that too far of a drive for you or we could plan a ride together somewhere. Where ever it is in the MidWest I probably will be flying. I also would like to thank you and others here on the forum for giving me some tips and pointers. I know I have asked some of the dumb newbie questions but it has saved me some expenses and rookie mistakes.

Thanks Again
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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ridemagnetic

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Reply with quote  #11 
I've already marked this event in my 2018 calendar just based on Zman's accounts. Thanks for the great write up!
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ridemagnetic
I've already marked this event in my 2018 calendar just based on Zman's accounts. Thanks for the great write up!


You are quite welcome. I will give you one bit of advice though. The 120 which was I believe actual 125 miles was much harder than the 75 miler. Our 2 rides overlapped a lot but lots of times I would see a sign 120 this way and they had lots of what I would call goat trails or single track. But for sure it has that small town feeling of a ride/race with everybody trying to help/encourage you in anyway they can.

BTW I sent an article into gravelcyclist and they published it a couple of days ago and have some great pics of the ride in the article.

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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