Sunday, April 1, 2012

Humilliated Limestone

Pre-Ragnarok Gravel Grinder.
Brett plans to ride about 70 miles of last years Ragnarok race and post something to Josh and he passes it to me. I consider myself lucky because I really needed the experience before my first real gravel grinder. I'm actually writing this after the real race and I used a lot of what I learned this day.

Josh and I get delayed leaving the cities. I was uncharacteristically late and then Josh forgets his wallet so we loop back and end up making a call to Brett telling him we are 20 minutes late. When we arrive we are not warmly greeted. We get the cue sheet and the pack leave. Josh and I kit up and roll out about 10 minutes later.
We catch the pack about an hour into the ride just after a major hill. All of us are hoping for sun as the temps and wind are making for cold rides.

The sun comes out and the leaders take a break to regroup and start talking about lunch. This photo is at the top of a massive hill that is a bit frightening and very loose. I was gripped on the ride down and almost had to eat some rock but luck or skill kept the wheel dirt side down and flesh side up.

This is the top of "Heaths Hill". It's savage. It's the road equivalent of chocolate chunk ice cream. It's soft dirt with chunky rocks. My computer told me it gains 400 feet in maybe 2000 feet.

Lunch at the gas station? It's actually a nice clean place but after turning the cranks for 4 hours anything with food and cold drinks will do. The sun came out and we were about 10 miles from the end so it was a long lunch and one flat tire got patched twice before we could get back.

Josh gets the itch for speed not long after we leave and he makes a break. I see it and bridge (sprint to close the gap before it gets too big) and catch him just before a large hill. I spin like mad to offload the work to my cardio system and recover enough leg power to hold on at the next road segment, then it's into the Lehrbach Hill and back to the car. Josh backed off the throttle and we cross 'the line' together but alone. We started 10 minutes behind but finish 10 minutes ahead of the pack. I'll never be the racer I could have been so I'll take the emotional highs of being 2nd when I get them, race or not.

Oh, I almost forgot, Humiliated Limestone. It's road gravel. The Ragnarok starts in Red Wing. They had a quarry that produced beautiful Limestone building then crushed the rest so we can grind it.

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