Photos pilfered from here: http://www.gravelcyclist.com/race-reports/race-report-k-doggs-take-on-the-standard-deluxe-dirt-road-century/
Oh damn was this a good weekend of racing.
Let’s start with the Sac o’ Suds 50 on Saturday.
I got my bike dialed in riding on the road and trails at Sope Creek over the past week. Changed out the heavy 36h wheels with the HED Tomcats from the DB that have been sitting unused, lighter wheels are the best!
I’ve been trying to take less of a racer mentality and just enjoy the ride this year as I’ve been a lot less fit and overall a lot less intelligent with my racing style. I’ve had some life stuff so I haven’t been eating the same as my previous racing diet and holy cow did it show. I ended up having very sore legs from my short opener ride on Friday. Might have been an issue that I went out and got pretty drunk too?
Race day was very nice, warm and clear. I took my camelbak and one water bottle and had more than enough water. Race started as normal, big group moving fast and rotating. I was being dumb and forgot what chainring I was in and got dropped after slipping the rear wheel on one of the first steep climbs. Had to unclip and stop to get back going again as the dirt was pretty loose. After this I just kind of rode my own race and had fun. The steel Soma is much a nicer ride than the aluminum cross/gravel bikes I’ve raced previously. This is a fairly flat course but still had a lot of rollers, I got caught and dropped several times on the way back and ended up 20 minutes off my prior year time. Oh well, still fun. I didn’t notice until I got home but my seatpost had slipped a couple of inches. This lead to me riding the race is a much lower position than normal. Really killed my quads, I got home and had the worst leg pain I’ve ever had from riding. It was like I was back doing 20 rep squats – very painful. So I loaded up on protein and took a hot bath. Once I got home for the evening I tried to massage my legs and did the foam roller even though it hurt so bad.
I think next time I should take a week off, ride regular a week and then race the next week. Might help keep my legs strong.
Anyway, since my legs were so blown I was so nervous for the 100 mile ride I’d registered for on Sunday, The Standard Deluxe Dirt Road Century in my adopted hometown of Waverly, AL. I woke up early, loaded the car with hurting legs and drove down. Stopped about a half hour away, got a starbucks double shot and funnily enough once I got there my legs were like 80% better. Weird?
I walk around a bit at registration and by that point my legs felt like normal (for a day after a 50 miles gravel ride). Even so I knew my mental house of cards was a little shaky so I hedged and took a 60 mile cue sheet as there was a turn off option at the first aid stop. Conditions were the same as the day before; clear, warm and dry. Alabama dirt is different than Georgia dirt – more packed and faster.
Race started in a big pack and was much slower than the previous day as it appeared most of the fast guys were doing the 100. I rotated a bit and then noticed my seatpost slipping. Fuck. Tried to hang tight but it kept dropping and after it was 3 inches down I stopped. Took it out, wiped off the friction paste I had added the night before (so stupid) took a handful of the sediment on the ground, rubbed down the post and reinstalled with as much torque as I dared. Rode a few hundred yards and dropped it about 5mm and then was fine the rest of the ride. No back pain, positions felt good. Funny how I always get things done under stress.
So I’m riding by myself when as SS fatbike guy comes hauling by. I jump on and we cruise for a bit. Catch another guy and then we catch the main pack right before the aid station. I start on the 100 mile route and then decide I’d rather be social tonight and I’ve excluded having a life for bike riding enough so I turn around and start on the 60. And then proceed to get lost, run out of water and have to take the paved way for the last 10 miles after missing a turn.
The course is well designed but there are two longish paved sections that combined with the relative flatness and compact dirt make me wonder if smooth tread tires may be a better choice? Although I guess the 40mm Kenda Happy Mediums I was running are pretty close.
Overall a very fun experience but I wasn’t able to stay with the main pack and did not have a navigation GPS so I was not competitive at all. I’d recommend either one if you want to “race” or be competitive. I’m happy to partici-race and stop to take pics if I see something cool.
Bike performed very well for both events. 100% shifting front and rear, brakes were great and the tires were good but maybe not the best for very dry and sometimes loose conditions?
My drivetrain is toast, gravel racing kills components like nothing else.
Legs are very sore and I’m tired but dang that was a lot of fun. Next year I’m going to plan better and really prepare for both rides.