This years edition of the Killer gravel road race was a lot different than the 2011 edition. Last year the start boasted temps in the low 20's. Today it was warmer....low 50's at the start. It rained all day Friday and I am not sure when it stopped...but the roads were wet. I was hoping for the best considering the 35 miles I was going to ride today were mostly gravel roads.
The race started just like I thought it would.....BOOM. I was trying to hold onto a wheel but the speed was just too intense. I rode with a group, but not really in a group if that makes sense. Gun Lake Road was very fast. I was really just finding my groove and my own pace. We made the turn onto Hastings Point and there was a few people on the side of the road. A racer was holding her shoulder. I hope she was okay. I was getting caught and passed by the wave that started after me at this point....and I knew Sager Road was going to be a parking lot......it was.
When I made the turn onto Sager I cleared the first climb.....and the rest...well....lets just say that the traffic jam was rough. I had to walk a little bit....the ride some more....then walk some more. When I hit the final climb there was some separation and I was able to hit the corner full speed. I took about 20 places back on that section....and lost about 40 in the next mile. Around mile 7 there is a nasty downhill left. A guy on a cross bike and I were flying over the rollers and I screamed at him "HARD LEFT HARD LEFT" as we crested the hill. Good thing too....he would have taken me out because the downhill was all chattered up. We made it safely around the corner and I burned a match on that section because it is so fast. The problem....there is a super steep climb at the end of that section.
Around mile 15 I started feeling twinges.....and I was drinking enough so I am not sure what was going on. I was forced to back off and just finish. It was still a lot of fun....torture....but fun. Stayed with pretty much the same people for miles 20-30. Finally the new section.....Sager to Shaw road. I rode as far as I could and then I had to hike. I hiked until I got to a peak and I climbed back on. The downhill was so sandy.....I was saying out loud "I AM LITE LIKE A FEATHER....LITE LIKE A FEATHER!!!!!" and making a few guys laugh. It was brutal, but I had to keep going. I made it out to Gun Lake Road and I used what power I had left to get home. I was surprised that I could still hit speeds of 16 and 17 after how I was feeling, but I got home in 2:54. 123 out of 129 in my class. Finished.
Missed my goal by a long time, but I am still fairly positive about things. I really only have 3 months of training in my legs. After not riding for the second half of 2011 I am thankful my time was that fast. I got to see a bunch of friends, teammates, and awesome riders in general. What a way to kick off the season!