This past Sunday was my second run at the FoCo Fondo gravel race up in Fort Collins. I did this one last year and had so much fun I couldn’t wait to sign up for it again this year and I’m sure glad I did. Great course, great weather, great fun!
Coach Jenn joined me again this year and we talked teammates Brent and Leslie into joining us as well. Brent did the 54 miles course too and this was his first gravel event and I’m happy to say he claims to have had fun. This was Leslie’s second(?) and she had a good time as well.
Last year the course was 59 miles. This year it was just over 54 [Strava link].
I had a fun “wrinkle” at the start… Just before the starter pistol was fired, my bike computer decided it had been waiting long enough and turned off! Well shit. I quickly moved out of the way of everyone while I booted it back up and loaded the course again. This ensured I started DFL (dead farging last) and kept things interesting. We like to add challenges on race day, right?
As of today, the stats show that 340 people started and I finished 112th. Which means I got to chase down and pass 228 other riders. And I won’t lie — I had a lot of fun doing it 🙂
Nitpicking note: I may not have passed that many riders. Some may have started early and I may never have seen them. But I really did pass a lot of bikes!
Other stats: I finished 24th [out of 57] in my age group. I have said it before: There are a lot of tough old guys my age! I finished 89th overall out of all the men.
Coach and I beat our last year’s efforts by approximately 45 minutes. That feels good.
Key take away: I have to find the difference between pushing hard at an “endurance”pace vs. going harder at a race pace. Assuming there is a difference. Or maybe I just need to be pushing my endurance pace harder. I’m not yet sure what that looks like, but I will keep working on it.
I was 31 minutes away from a podium spot (5th). 8 of those minutes were at the water stops. And I felt way too good at the end of the race, so I have to wonder about how much harder I could have/should have been pushing.
Tech note: This was my first race on WTB Vulpine tires (700 x 36) and I think they were fantastic for this course (or any other hard and dry course). There was rain the day before and the roads were in awesome shape. No dust and really no loose sand, just a little wet mud at a few corners to watch for. Definitely was a faster course than last year and, just as I said last year, I would consider going to an even narrower tire next year for more speed.
The organizers did a fantastic job. This course is an absolute blast with the super-fast gravel roads and the fun trails and pitchy little hills. The band, beer, and food afterwards did not disappoint, and I already look forward to going back up next year.