This was an excellent race. I’ve got some notes below
This is definitely a mountain pedal/shoe race. I originally had my road pedals on since I thought it might be like the Red Clay Ramble but after getting to the venue and seeing some mud I switched out to my mountain pedals and shoes. This saved my race, there are a couple hike-a-bike sections as well as some sections where the leaders backed up on the steep power line climb that required a dismount.
To a degree, weather dictates what I eat. Race was about 2:40 and I ate three gels and a powerbar as well as two bottles of water. If it was even a little hotter I would have needed a lot more water. I brought my camelbak but it was so cool at the start I decided against it.
Always bring gloves! It was pretty cool at the start and I was lucky to find some gloves in the glovebox (ha!) of my car. I only wore them for the first 15-20 minutes but it was very important.
I spent the entire previous weekend moving a ton of boxes down from the 3rd floor walkup apartment and didn’t ride at all until the day before. I did a pretty solid hour, hit up the foam roller and stretched a bunch. This seems to work really well. My legs felt so awful on Friday but come race day I was in pretty good shape.
My technical skills are awful, I got dropped from the main pack of about 10 due to overly cautious descending on the gravel roads. I hit the brakes anytime I encountered washboarding or loose gravel or mud or pretty much anything not smooth. This is a huge failing, need to work on descending.
I had a protein with creatine about 3 hours before the start and then an apple and a gel about 15-30 minutes before the start. Did a short warm-up 2-3 minutes.
This is the first time I’ve ridden this bike with 700×40 wheels/tires since the ramble. My handling was ok on the road and in the pack but it really fell apart on the powerline trail and double track. Need to do a little monster cross before racing next time.
Ran my tires at 35ish in the front and 45ish in the rear, I think I could have gone down a little but there were some significant roots and rocks that may be a liability at lower pressures.
Pics below from GravelCyclist.com
I saw a similar post on Bikeforums and it got me thinking. Over the past four years and about 33,000 miles I’ve had the following mechanical failures while riding.
2015: In progress; 7,420
Fall 2011: Broken rear axle (road bike)
Spring 2012: Broken spoke (fixed gear)
Summer 2012: Broken spoke (fixed gear)
Fall 2012: Broken spoke (fixed gear)
Fall 2012: Broke bottom bracket shell (fixed gear)
Summer 2013: Broken spoke (road bike)
Summer 2013: Destroyed rear wheel (road bike)
Spring 2014: Broken quick link (mountain bike)
Fall 2014: Broken bottom bracket weld (fixed gear)
Spring 2015: Broken spoke (road bike)
Summer 2015: Broken seat stay weld (road bike)
Fall 2015: Broken chain (single speed)
Fall 2015: Broken front derailleur (allroad bike)
I swear stuff like this happens all the time.
What a race. Snapped my chain on some rough pavement about 10 miles in. Lost the lead group so I just rode in. Still a great time. Those first 10 miles were amazing. Blasting through intersections, heart pounding, and spinning my cranks a million miles and hour trying to keep up with the larger geared riders.
So here are some notes for next year.
- Depending on the route, there are shortcuts available. Plan to take go straight up Northside Parkway, left on Garmon and so forth.
- Stick with the main group, don’t need to pull ahead during the first section through the city. This race in won on Powers Ferry and Peachtree St.
- Bigger gears! 50:17 is a good starting point but 48:16 is worth considering.
- Caffeine order is important. 50mg first, 100mg next.
- Plan to eat 1 gel right before the start, 1 gel on Howell Mill before Northside, one gel at the top of Northside and one gel at the top of Powers Ferry.
- 200mg of caffeine over 3 gels is probably the best.
- Breakfast should be small, one power bar only! I ate two (at 10:45) as well as had a protein (at 7:45) this year and that was too much.
- Creatine is helpful.
- Training for this race is group rides and racing at the track. 150/9 hours rides are very fun but do not make a winner.
- Plan to switch gearing? Run 50/18 before and after the race but put on 50/17 or larger for the race?
- Proper chain tension, either run shorter or run a derailleur. My chain broke because the tensioner flexed upwards and the chain popped off. Next revolution broke it.
- Dial my race fit in earlier. I only had four rides and about 6 hours on my bike before the race. I need to at least triple this.
- Get a better fitting frame, the performance frame was the economical choice but a better racing frame that fits properly could be a big improvement.