August 29, 2020 - Cow Pie ~60 mile gravel road race...with some cyclocross type fun through a cow pasture!
Well, today was another race in the great state of Michigan! The ???? Classic! When the race was confirmed, I was hesitant at first. However, the race directors had a solid plan and both my son and I decided to give it a go. I registered for the 62 and put my son in the 17. Some Really fast guys decided to play as well, so I knew it was going to be a tough race. The weather leading up to the race was less than desirable with a lot of wind and rain. However, the rain stopped early in the morning and the wind dried the gravel nicely.
Social distancing requirements set the start up in 3 main groups separated by the distance of the race. Each group was then split into waves by estimated average speed. I ended up in wave 4, which did not seem that bad at first. With my 3 bottles of (newly tuned ??) custom Infinit, I was ready to go. The 1.4 mile roll out to the timing gate (official start) was nice and easy, but once we crossed the mates, GAME ON! The group quickly sorted itself out and we made it to the cow pasture pretty quickly. This is where the first separation occurred. The cow pasture was literally a pasture complete with ???? scattered throughout the path. It then turned into into a two track in the woods, and it became clear right away who had CX and MTB experience. The first sharp corner resulted in one rider just riding off into the woods! Once we came out of the woods, it was up a steep, loose hill of asphalt millings...so this because a run up with all of the people stopping. I made it back onto the gravel safely and the group I was with ended up being ~7 riders.
this is where the race became tough. Very few were willing to work together. One rider even kept yelling at the group to keep the pace but would not do any turns up front. I made several attempts to spit the group on the hills and ended up going solo three times and consequently I ended up getting caught three times. I burned a lot of matches, so I sat in for a little, polished off some Infinit, and tried to recover. With about 18 miles to go, one of the young guys in the group made a go. I was caught off guard and could not make the jump and yet again, no one was willing to work. I chatted with one other rider and he lamented about "Welch Wall" which gave me the idea to give it one more go. I put in a solid dig on the climb and at the top, it was myself and the guy I chatted with. We saw the space and worked together and established a nice gap. We traded off until about 1 mile from the finish when another rider made the bridge. At that point, I watched the elbows and fingers start getting twitchy as they set up for a sprint.
I literally emptied the tank, averaging 800 plus watts and was able to take the sprint with ~3 seconds of a gap. Not too bad for being up front in the group for the majority of the time. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have not been so conservative with my estimated average speed. I think if I were with the wave in front of me, the race would have been a bit different. I know I have more work to do, so I will plan for this one next year, as it was a great time. I will end with two things 1) my modified blend was perfect! And 2) my 10 year old son was 13th overall and 1st in AG for the 17 mile!