Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Final Tune-up for Utah: Pony Xpress 160 Gravel Race

Carried Everything So I didn't have to stop at aid stations

Pony Xpress 160:
Man is was so nice to do a real race vs virtual. And it was awesome! Big kudos to Phil Schweizer for putting on such a great race while following strict COVID protocol. The course was splendid! I started with the lead group which may have been too fast. It was very cool though, because riding in a pack like that was the real version of riding in the packs I’ve been virtually riding in all summer on Zwift. Eventually the group broke into two and I was in the second group. I believe most of the people in these groups were doing the 80k vs the 160k. Eventually got dropped by the second group and rode alone for a while until my friend Tom Turney, with a group of five or so, caught me. We rode together, then about half turned off at the 80k turnoff. We caught stragglers of the groups ahead, who like me got dropped. I decided not to stop at the second aid station, which left three of us riding together from that point. Some rolling hills, and I discovered one of the riders was in my age group. He seemed strong and totally in control, riding a much lighter bike and carrying minimum stuff. I was able to gap him a bit on the climbs, did not have the gearing to stay with him on the pedaling descents. Finally, at about 48 miles we hit a big climb of 11+ miles, followed by another 5 mile climb shortly after. I managed to open a gap and catch others on these climbs. I motivated myself by telling myself I'm a climber, this is what I live for, I love to climb. It worked, although a couple times I had to back off just bit and remember to relax the upper body, before I got myself into trouble. I was worried on the descents since I didn't have the gearing to go as fast as some of the others, so all I could do is get in the most aerodynamic tuck possible when I couldn’t pedal fast enough. During the last 8 miles or so the skies opened up and made this race really epic. It was a deluge, like I haven't seen in years, complete with hail. Just kept riding, almost completely blind, wind gust that were incredible, flooded roads. Luckily the last 5 or so miles were on pavement, so the rain actually washed all the mud off my bike. Ended up winning the 60+ category by 11 minutes, finishing 23rd overall. It felt so good to be racing again, and it was so much fun! This is a real confidence booster for Utah. Now it’s time to rest, rest and rest some more. 

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