Veni, Vidi, and then I was Vici’d.
What an awesome ride.
Weather was a scorcher. It was in the nineties all day…started around 90 at 9, got up to a high of 98. On one asphalt road, BPaul’s bike computer reported 111 degrees. It was toasty. Toasty enough that if my legs grazed the top-tube on the Vaytanium, it was hot to the touch.
Pics that I show on the blog today are from a variety of sources. Some are mine, some are unattributed on Facebook, some are from Jon Schratz, and some are from the incredibly talented eye of Sir Chad, from the Brown County adventures. (Not Hand of Midas. The other Chad).
North Central Cyclery is the host of the event, and had the whole crew ready to help.
Had a HUUUUUGE turnout. Over 200 riders.
The Vaytanium was ready to rock. I was sporting 4 bottles, given the weather conditions.
I was also sporting the 700x35c Continental Cyclocross Speeds. With about 3,000 miles on them, they’re just not wearing out. Here’s the seatpost mount bottle cages:
Here’s Nice Jeff, shooting the breeze with Ben Berden.
Ben was super-nice, very easy to talk to, and a great guy to spend a bit of time with. More on that later. He was out riding for Clement, and there were a TON of bikes sporting Clement’s new line of gravel-oriented clinchers.
Ross, taking waivers:
Mudge, getting on his game face:
Nearly everyone at the shop rode the race. Ah-mazing.
We had an incredibly orderly lead-out through town this year. Right down Route 38, then up Annie Glidden Road, and then left on Twombly.
Cyclists had both lanes. They were running red lights, swinging through corners without stopping…wait–it’s not what you think.
DeKalb’s finest lead the way, providing a much-appreciated escort out of town. Here’s Nevdal and Tobie, at the head of the pack.
Smashing new NCC kit.
When we eventually got to Twombly, and it turned to gravel, things got real. Here’s yours truly, mixing it up with Ben, the professional cyclocross racer.
I believe this is his ‘game face’
Actually, I’m not sure we were mixing it up. He was just waiting for a nice spot to pass.
The lead group, early in the race:
That’s Dan Eiten up front in the NCC Kit, and I’m about 3 bikes back. But then again, that’s only a couple miles in.
I’ll do the ride review first, and my personal experience later.
Terrain was varied. Paved, gravel (tons of gravel), dirt, creek crossings, etc.
Some riders had difficulty with the creek crossing. The good line was far to the right, and it was a straight shot across, and then a little 5″ curb jump to get out.
Other lines were not as successful.
This is Ben, enjoying a leisurely ride in the country.
I rode a while with Rick, the organizer of Barry Roubaix (who complimented my B-R water bottle before I knew who he was). He was riding this beautiful Steelman cross bike:
He was a great guy, and was riding strong.
But this is what much of the ride looks like:
The Vaya makes any surface just a little bit better.
Part of the ride looked like this…although with no rain, it was totally dry and super-fast.
And after that, I didn’t take any pics on the ride.
Here’s the aftermath:
The Vaytanium rocked it hard.
It was an awesome ride. Hard, hot, fun. North Central Cyclery was the consummate host, and Dan and Tobie killed it on the ride. There should be more pictures forthcoming…I’ll link some in when they’re available.
As for my ride, I rode as well as I could, and am happy with how I did. The first 5 miles of actual “racing”, I was on the lead group and felt strong. That was 20-22mph on loose gravel. A number of guys went down in the pack (and on the day, there were a few injuries and some heatstroke). With all of the gravel riding we’ve been doing, I felt totally comfortable, regardless of how loose and sketchy the gravel was. I also knew enough to watch the road ahead, and when it got loose, I would get in a track. The guys I saw went down did so for predictable reasons…they rode into gravel that was unrideable at 20mph, lost control, and wiped out (usually while over braking with their rear brake).
The first 15 miles, I felt pretty darn good. I was rocking the Paul-o-ton with BPaul, running a nice rotating 2 person pace line into the wind.
Around mile 20, my strength started going, but my technique was still good. I know exactly what happened, it was totally predictable, and I learned from it. I didn’t ride as hard as I could have–but I know what I could have done and I’m comfortable with it. I also am very pleased to have picked a sustainable pace starting at that point, and riding to the finish. There’s no point belaboring what was really a slow result for me–it is what it is, I know why it happened, and hopefully, it’s a stage of life that’s behind me. Live and learn. Notwithstanding that, it was still a really fun ride. Wind was out of the SSW…the ride started going generally Northwest, then generally southwest, then east, south, east, south, north (out and back), and then generally Northwest. There was a nice tailwind on much of the way back to the shop, which was greatly appreciated.
1. Did not need 4 water bottles. Too much unnecessary weight.
2. At the start, get behind guys you know and trust. It was totally reassuring to be behind Dan and Tobie. I knew their riding, they were predictable, and I could be on their wheel without worrying that I was about to go down.
3. No matter what, stay on another bike. Riding significantly faster with a rotating pace line is easier than riding alone and going slower.
4. Practice gravel before the race. A lot. I had done this, and was totally ready for the gravel.
5. Practice single track on your cross bike. I had done this as well, and felt totally comfortable in ruts, dirt, creek crossings, hopping obstacles…totally comfortable.
6. Have fun. The extreme parts of the Metric are what make it memorable. Last year, it was hail, lightning, and flash flooding. This year, it was blowtorch heat. Some of the paved roads, with a hard crosswind, felt somewhat akin to a convection oven.
At the end of the ride, I was wasted. Wasted, as in when people ask you if you’re ok, you say, “No.” But some great friends at NCC took care of me, and with a little water (some in a bottle, some from a hose), I recovered quickly. It was a great ride. If you missed it, put it on the calendar for next year. Thanks, North Central!
I’m experimenting with a new “ceramic” chain lube and I’m not sure if I like it or not. I’ll have further thoughts on that in the coming months. For now, it’s time for a little more post-race R&R…back to the grind tomorrow.