In North Lincoln, it's windy and humid as Jim, Jamie, Collin, and I roll from the parking lot over to the Gravel Worlds start/finish line.
I chat with gravel (see that?) friends prior to lining up for the start, and find a spot 3 or 4 rows off the front, next to Tim Mohn. Tim is missing the "Kristi" half of tandem team Mohn, and he's getting nervous. Shortly after the T-minus 5 minutes announcement, Tim takes me up on the offer to keep the Salsa Powderkeg upright while he finds Kristi. About a minute before the gun, they both show up, mount up, and get ready to ride, disaster averted. There's a few Godzilla and Mothra shout outs. Godzilla vs. Mothra is a friendly competition between DK200 legend, Dan Hughes, and all around GU Energy badass, Yuri Hauswald. Friendly in that, they want to destroy each other in every race. Adding fuel to rivalry fire, both are debuting appropriately themed bikes at Gravel Worlds. Dan and Yuri shared details of each bike Friday afternoon during registration at Cycle Works. Both bikes are works of art, highly functional works of art. Rebecca Rusch is toeing the line this morning as well. Evidently Gravel Worlds is serious business.
|Dan Hughes' Mothra themed Specialized|
|Yuri Hauswald's Godzilla themed Marin|
|Rebecca Rusch with her Niner post race.|
It's race time and all fun and games (really fast fun and games) until we hit the gravel about a mile from start. The fun and games are over.
It's at this point, I realize my "lite" light is woefully inadequate for this gravel. This Lincoln gravel was loose and sketchy for the first several miles and I was working to maintain control. I back off the pace a bit and eagerly await some assistance from the pre-dawn twilight.
|The early hours. Photo Credit to Someone at Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop|
A half hour of riding brings improved gravel conditions, and some natural light. There are still problem areas, and focus is required to keep blood from seeping out of your body.
|Photo Credit- Lisa Janssen|
Jim Phillips single speeds his way up to me at the 10 mile mark and we hang together to the 50 mile aid station at Garland. Collin and Jamie have put a 3-5 minute gap on us. We catch them here. I show a 16+ mph average, and all 4 of us are feeling good.
|Photo Credit- Lisa Janssen|
We have a 10 mile push Southeast to Malcolm, where race rules require you stop at a c-store and buy a Lottery ticket. I didn't win a dime! Collin and Jamie have a put a 2 minute gap on Jim and I, and depart the c-store ahead of us. Collin is having a great day, and keeping a strong pace. Jamie and Collin maintain the gap on us for some time. Around mile 73 we're met with a ~200 ft. stretch of loose base rock. It's difficult or impossible to ride. I've been at it for nearly 5 hrs. now, and feel the first dark period creeping in. I push through the loose stuff and continue pushing up a little roller. Jim gaps me.
Around mile 75, Collin starts pulling away from Jamie, and continues on without the benefit of his awesome gravel cohorts. I roll into the 85 mile aid station a few minutes behind Jim and Jamie. None of the 3 of us are feeling stellar. I find food and water and sit down, this was a bad idea, sitting that is. There's brief discussion about finding the shortest route back to Lincoln and calling it a day. That conversation prompted me to remount and ride. Jim and Jamie joined me, our enthusiasm is 2.5 on a scale of 1-10. At this point, Collin has 15+ minutes on the 3 of us.
The fat lady wasn't even close to singing.