Once again...another belated race report. I have no excuse other then work, dogs, Hunger Games and more work :-)
So...I will be the first to admit that I was very, very, VERY nervous for this race. I think it was a combination of knowing that I was going to have tough competition, the fact that my last two Barry-Roubaix races were awful, and the fact that gravel road races (or any sort of road race format) are not something I would consider myself especially good at. Except maybe good at blowing up in the first couple of miles, but that's where it stops.
However, even with all the nervousness I was excited to race. The Fat Bikes took off in Wave 4 and I watched Waves 1-3 take off in a rush. I lined up in the front because my hope was to get sucked along in the pack during the road section as much as possible.
And then we were off! It was impossible to see where all the Fat Bikes were in the crowd, but it didn't really matter. All I cared about was staying near the front and not getting dropped!
Before the race I couldn't remember much about the course but instantly it all started coming back to me. It's killer, hence the name "killer gravel road race." Mostly dirt with a lot of little rolling hills and a few big ones. You basically have to be on the gas the entire freaking time or you will get dropped in a second. A couple miles in Tara passed me and quickly put distance between us. She is so stinking fast and instantly my mind started thinking, "oh no....it's happening again." This was where I got dropped the last two years by everyone and I did not want a repeat.
However, after a few miles I realized a few things. Tara was still in my sight, my legs felt good, and I was moving forward! Hurray!!!
Finally we hit the first bit of sandy doubletrack and it was awesome. The course is made for cyclocross bikes, but the doubletrack section is where Fat Bikes ruled! Racers were stopping and hiking left and right and I was able to ride around everyone. I still couldn't believe how awesome it was to ride my Mukluk over the sand just as easy as if I were riding on hard packed dirt. I could see Tara weaving around people ahead and finally caught up to her. I passed her on the next hill and went as hard as I could to make it stick.
Ouch...talking about being deep in the pain cave. The signs that a blow-up was imminent were all there. I was coughing, my eyes were blurry (and maybe bleeding) and I couldn't hold my head up straight. Somehow I managed to pedal through all of it and I was mentally thanking my coach for all of the hard workouts he gives me and Jason for always making me lift harder weights then I think I can.
The rest of the race went by in a hurry. I rode with a pack of cyclocross bikes and mountain bikes the entire time and worked my butt off. Towards the end there was one more mile of sandy doubletrack and once again it was the best ever. I can honestly say that I have never gotten so many cheers in my life. "Go, Fat Bike Go!" I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:05:56 which means I held a 17.2 mph average on my fat bike!!! Tara finished 2 minutes behind me and I am very, very proud of both of us. We managed to finish 2nd and 3rd overall in the Fat Bike class. It's just too bad we missed the actual podium ceremony because it would have been a good picture :-)
Tara and I after the race...it would be awesome to do a winter fat bike stage race with her. I don't think there is one (yet) but there should be!