This weekend’s latest adventure was The Rad Dirt Fest gravel bike race down in Trinidad, CO. I was down this way two weeks ago for the Hi Lo Gravel event and pretty excited to come back down for more riding. I love riding down here!
This year’s “The Rad” was their first one and, in general, I think things went well. A few minor bobbles but nothing (for me) that was a big deal. I would likely do it again. Mostly to have a shot at a drier course. It rained a bunch on Friday afternoon and evening and that definitely made our roads on Saturday morning much more challenging for me. New experiences are good and I like to learn, but damn… fast descents on slimy muddy dirt roads are terrifying, you know?
TL;dr (for those of you with short attention spans)
I did the shorter 38 mile course and it took me 2:56 complete. My goal was to finish in the top third overall. I finished 54 out of 182, comfortably above the goal, so that’s cool.
I was 38 out of 95 men and just 12 out of 24 in the men 50 – 59 age group (these old guys are TOUGH!).
I needed new tires after the last race and, without much thought or analysis, opted to go with a completely new brand than what I’ve been running for the past two years. I chose Maxxis Ravagers in a 40mm width (40 is the only option) because a) width and b) I could find some in stock. Thankfully, my bike handles that width in the rear just fine.
The good: They handled the muck and the slimy mud just fine. No issues whatsoever, so that was awesome. I’m sure the width and the knobs really helped there.
The bad: They feel super heavy and sluggish. On the asphalt and dry roads I felt like I was working harder than normal to spin up and maintain speeds. It was a tricky course though since nothing was really ever flat so hard to say how accurate that perception was.
I’ll keep them mounted up over the off season and keep experimenting — I do think the wider 40mm width could be handy on sandy courses too… we’ll see.
This race was hard work! The wetter course was surely a factor. The course started with an immediate series of hill climbs which was a challenge to a guy who had just been sitting on the curb with his wife for the past 30 minutes. I definitely was above Zone 2 for heart rate much of the race.
Also, “peanut butter mud” is a real thing. Damn. It changes you, man. Really changes you.
I have struggled at the last few gravel events to get enough carbs in while riding (hard to find a spot to ride with one or no hands). This time, I added a top tube “bento” box to the bike and dumped in a few bags of sport beans and Stinger gummies. That made fueling carbs while on the course much more feasible. Just dip my hand in and grab a few. Definitely will be part of my ongoing setup.
The race itself was funny. I got passed a lot on the descents — I was still figuring out how much I needed to care about wet mud and sand and, frankly, I was a little freaked out about it, but I always eventually passed ’em back on the climbs. It was a short course but lots of climbing so, overall, I passed more than passed me back.
At the start I rolled out at the very back of the group, but moved up a lot in the first few miles with all the climbs. In fact, after doing a little rough math in my head, I may have passed over a 100 people in the first few miles just thanks to those initial climbs. Woah.
Also makes me realize maybe I should be a little less casual about choosing the hassle free back spots for these races.
Our hotel was just a few blocks from the downtown starting line and festivities which was fantastic. It was also right alongside the Interstate which was not so fantastic. ’nuff said. Left my truck unattended and unlocked for 5 minutes and had a goody bag (and shirt), loose change, and a lighter stolen. Rats.
Friday evening’s dinner at Las Animas grill was fantastic. Mrs. AdultOnset and I sat at the bar and had great talks with the owner and bartender over supper. She even went back the next day for breakfast. Highly recommended.
The only bobble I had with the race logistics was after I was finished. Found the food court/beer tent and got my free beer there. However, they didn’t take our free food coupon so I bought a burger. Then learned that the free food was at a different park a couple blocks away. Oops? Oh well, we walked down there and I had another burger. 😉 Hey, it was a hard ride…. don’t judge me.
As I said at the beginning, I would do this one again just like every other race I did this year. Trinidad is a cool little town and I really do love this part of the country.