Second, we were interviewed by a reporter from The Cardinal (U of L student newspaper) for an article which should be coming soon. The Cardinal is available for free at stands around campus.
Now, today's events. Marcus and I headed to Story, IN for the 2nd annual Gravel Grovel which featured lots of gravel and a fair amount of groveling to boot. It's a race over a 100km course consisting of mainly gravel fire roads but considerable sections of single/doubletrack and pavement as well. Mountain and cross bikes are both allowed. Marcus and I both palped our cross whips for this adventure.
The start/finish line was at the Story Inn, a collection of rustic buildings, in the Hosier National Forest. Temperatures were a little above freezing which is about optimum for riding a bike as far as i'm concerned. We rode out from the start line on pavement parade style past a narrow bridge to make sure everyone got across safely. Soon after we reached the first gravel: a steep winding climb with an equally steep descent on the back side. Hurtling down a loose gravel slope on 32c tires in a large pack of riders was one of my scariest/most exciting times on a bike!
Next was the half singletrack/half doubletrack. It was damp but not muddy from the recent rain and the creek crossings were flowing. I made it through with out incident and it was fun watching the long thin column of cross bikes (some mtn bikes too) navigate the trail. Marcus told me there were some mass dismounts at the creek crossings farther back in the pack.
More gravel after the trail. I was moving forward and eventually spotted the lead pack with aa mtn biker on my wheel. I closed the gap some but began to slow up. As I did the mtn biker came around me saying "Let's go catch em!" I was like "Yeah, we're gonna get there!" and accelerated with him. Not five seconds later I felt my front tire go flat! I was forced to stop and change the tube while Marcus and several other riders passed me by. (Marcus did yell to make sure i was ok)
I retook several riders before finding myself alone on the course for a couple long stretches. Props to the race organizers for the course marking as I never felt lost despite making many consecutive turns without another rider in sight. There were some really nice views of the scenery as the sun occasionally peeked through the partial cloud cover. At one point I beheld some amber waves of grain blowing in the wind.
The course was somewhat an out and back. Halfway through the return leg I caught up to Marcus and talked a bit before continuing on with another rider on a cross bike who I was able to hang with until he rode away from me on the singletrack. The return trip on the trail was far different from the first: quiet, peaceful, and much slower.
After that the big hill was the only remaining obstacle. I elected to ride it which probably wasn't the wisest tactical choice as the two hike-a-bikers i passed on the way up caught and passed me on the road back to the start finish line. I finished in about 4 hours with Marcus not far behind. Chili and Coke were waiting for us at the finish; props to the organizers again, both were delicious! No pictures but several photographers were on the course so maybe there will be some official photos I can link to later.
The Gravel Grovel was great event, one which I will be attending next year; circumstances permitting. My legs are way sore now. One of the veterans from the first race said we'll feel like we've been hit by a bus the next day and I can only believe that he'll be proven correct.
Now I'll leave you with a glimpse of me racing cross while dressed as a girl scout with skirt, sash, leggings and pigtails at OVCX #9: Storm the Greens. (seen at Velo Louisville) I come in from the left at 0:20. Girl power and thin mints helped me avoid that mess in the sand pit at 0:40. The leggings held up better than I thought they would, but they got a couple runs in them. I still need to give Sonya her skirt and sash back...