TL;dr version: Made a last-minute change from 75 miles to the 50k course. Got sixth overall (first in age group!) out of 350’ish finishers. Then drove 3 hours to pick up some puppies and 3 hours back to Lincoln. Then 500 miles home the next day [with 3 puppies, that was not a quick drive.] Obligatory Strava link.
I signed up for Garmin Gravel Worlds in Lincoln, NE originally intending to do the 75-mile course. It looked like a great “A” race with the challenging five thousand plus feet of climbing and I was cautiously excited to tackle this one. And maybe a bit nervous. Ok, actually, a lot bit nervous. But still excited.
The plan was that while I was on the course, Mrs. AdultOnset was going to drive up to Yankton, SD to pick up some puppies — one for us and two for friends. Alas, we had some events that forced a change in plans and Mrs. AdultOnset could no longer come along. Since I was now the one driving up to get puppies I opted to take the shorter 50K course to ensure time for driving (and not being too tired).
In hindsight, that change worked out great!
As I was leaving the house, Mrs. AO asked me what my goal for the day would be. I kinda laughed and said, “um, I want to break 2 hours” then laughed knowing that would be quite a stretch. (foreshadowing).
8 AM at race start, Coach Jenn and I rolled out towards the front of the pack and put down a solid pace as soon as we hit the gravel. We passed a lot of people early on and made great time. Then I got passed by a guy that I felt had no business passing me (lol!) and I mentally shifted gears and took it up another notch to get back in front of him and then just kept on dieseling down the road. I felt good, the legs felt strong, and I just went with it.
After 31 miles, I had a fantastic sprint to the finish with the two guys I rode with for the last ten miles and managed to just edge them out at the finish line. I was delightfully surprised to find I finished in 6th place! Jenn came in a few minutes later in 10th place and first overall for the women! We were both very happy with how that all went down.
The course was a fun one. Lots of country gravel roads out north of Lincoln. Not quite as fast as the FoCo Fondo; these roads had more silt or a little layer of sand on them which I felt made me work a bit harder. There were also a couple sections of two-track that added some variety and more than a few roads with lots of loose gravel and not really a clear groove to run down. That kept it challenging.
As far as equipment goes, I ran the same rear tire as I did at FoCo (a 700×36 WTB Vulpine) but changed the front to my usual standby, the 700×37 WTB Riddler. In hindsight, I think I would have been happier with a Riddler in back too. The loose stuff caused me to spin the rear tire too often when I would come out of the saddle. Hard to say though, as those Vulpines are really fast on the hard pack stuff.
The weather was [strangely] incredible. Mid 60’s at the start and low 70’s at the finish. Overcast and low humidity. Not at all what I was expecting for a race in Nebraska in August! Made for a really comfortable race.
Oh, and about that two-hour goal: I had about 8 miles left when I realized I legitimately had a shot at achieving it. I was bogging myself down with the math wondering if I could really do it when we hit a 2 mile stretch of hard packed and (mostly) flat road. I hit the drops and went into TT mode and pulled 25+ mph speeds through there for those 2 miles and then I knew I was going to make it. I was pretty stoked! When the guys I was riding with wanted to sprint to the finish that was just icing on the cake 🙂 Made with just over a 3-minute margin.
Random fun numbers for the geeks:
Normalized Power: 261 Watts
Max Power: 845 Watts
Intensity Factor: .83 (my goal was .80 – .85. I’m pleasantly stunned I was that close)
Avg Speed: 16.2 mph
Max Speed: 30.2
Avg Heart Rate: 140
Max Heart Rate: 164
Obligatory picture of puppies. Coach Jenn was a great sport riding along to pick them up and wrangling them with me all the way home the next day!