Race Report: Hun-dirt 2018
This is year two of the Hun-dirt 100 and 50 mile gravel races in Alexandria, MN. This year the race was run one week later, which was a blessing because the weekend before saw heat advisories and temps in the high 90’s!
Pre-race training went well this summer. I did a lot more hill work and bigger mileage weeks in the lead up to the race. Not contracting Lyme’s disease this summer was also a big plus. I even pre-rode some sections of the course over the summer with the Big Ole bike club gravel group on a number of their weekly group rides, and came up 4 weeks before the race and did the half course for one of my 50 mile rides. I felt my preparation was good this year.
Race morning started off cold as 43 degree temps greeted everyone at check in. The forecast though called for it to get into the low 60’s and sunny. Beautiful race weather. The only drawback was the wind was 15-20 out of the SE which didn’t bode well for the last 30 miles where you turn and head back south. This year, the number of riders was down. Perhaps the wind forecast was a factor. In addition there was a few other events going on regionally including the Fergus Falls duathalon and a big trail race down in Starbuck at the State park. A number of the metro studs weren’t there as well, perhaps saving themselves for the Heck of the North the next weekend. Regardless, about 35 riders towed the start for the combined two races.
At the start the race headed west to near Andes Towers Hills ski area. For about the first 10 miles I was with a group of guys doing the half. About mile 10 I pulled away from them on an against the wind uphill and was pretty much on my own for the next 93 miles. The first uphill section about mile 11 starts with “the mule” a mile long climb with a nice downhill on the back side…..39.4 mph! Before the Minister Lake turn I saw a guy about 200 yards ahead of me ride past the turn. I yelled at him, but he never heard me. Sorry buddy, I made a similar mistake last year.
After that turn the race heads north and east for a long way. The tailwind made it fast, and the roads were in awesome shape for the most part. Through Millersville, past the statue of the Virgin Mary, past Inspiration peak, onto Hillview drive, up Norwegian MMR….It is still a sketchy 3 mile stretch of road. More like a mountain bike rock garden section with some soft sandy patches and mud puddles thrown in for good measure.
About mile 52 I made a nature break stop but was moving straight away. Still heading north. About mile 62 I heard the buzzing of bike tires coming up behind me. Boom guy was there. I said “wow, you came out of nowhere”. He said he made a wrong turn and did 6 extra miles. We said our good lucks and he just pulled away.
Mile 50 to mile 70 was a big net elevation gain, so lots of climbing in that section. About mile 70 you begin to head back south and into the stiff headwind. It wasn’t too bad at first because it is still pretty tree lined on the northern portion of the course. Down a MMR past a sawmill in the middle of nowhere at about mile 75 coming out of the woods and wham!! Cars and people everywhere crowding the road, walking on the road. Slam on the breaks and slowly make my way through. There was a big auction going on at the sawmill, hundreds of people.
A few miles later went through Parkers Prairie at mile 79. I didn’t have to stop there this year and kept moving right through onto Parkers Road. A 3 mile heavily wash boarded stretch into a cross head wind. That was a slow 3 miles. Make it to the Jakes Bikes aid station at mile 89 and pull in. I topped off my liquids and drank a Coke because it sounded good…..not a good idea. It didn’t sit well in my stomach so I sat there for about 10 minutes to let my stomach settle and make sure I wasn’t going to hurl. I didn’t so I headed out for the last 13 miles into the straight on head wind. At least the last stretch of road was nice and firm so all I had to battle was the wind, not the road conditions. The only problem in that last stretch was my legs began to get crampy. Every time I tried to stand and go up a hill my VMO’s would cramp and my calves began to cramp so every slight downhill I’d stand in the pedals and stretch them out. But by sitting on all the uphills and stretching calves out on the downhills I made good progress. 1 ½ miles from the finish I pass the last two fifty mile riders, yelling “we’re almost there!” as I went by. Two quick turns and I’m back at Brophy Park down the finishing straight on the Central Lakes Trail and done!
Total time was 7:24. Actual riding time was 7:11. The actual course distance is 103.3 miles. 5th place in the 100 out of 9 riders I believe. I felt great the whole day except for the leg cramps that last 10 miles. My goal was to finish in under 7:45 so I’m very pleased with my ride. The bike performed flawlessly, no mechanical issues at all. At the finish was beer and brats. Thank you to Deb at the Bike Ole Bike club for heading up this race.