Gravel Bike race (Gravel, pavement) 4:54:00  59.47 mi (12.1 mph)
Melting Mann -- 6th Annual
This event added a 60 mile version this year, so we signed up. It is a solid 4+ hour drive from our place, so we like to make it worthwhile ;)
For over a week, the forecast was for dry and sunny on race day, so I had decided to break out the Warbird. And holy cow, that held! It rained I think on Wednesday over there, but was crazy windy Friday (like at home), so that probably helped dry it out a bit. We stayed in Kalamazoo on Friday night, then drove the 45 minutes to Vandalia early Saturday morning. Early enough that we got a prime parking spot. One couple had camped in a teardrop trailer there (when I win the lottery.....), but they said it was cold! (it was -5C at race start). There was very little wind, but when I did a test ride with my kit, I decided that I needed a pair of leggings over my fuzzy bike pants for extra warmth. So I put on my red, leopard print leggings that I got for something like $5 at a discount store as a joke, but are surprisingly warm in situations like this. I promised Paul I wouldn't tell anyone I was with him (they are kinda funky......) I had already planned to wear my XC ski gloves that have the windstopper mitt covering for my fingers (they work very well for XC skiing and biking!).
The sun was shining brilliantly when we set off at 9 am. Everyone but me set off at 17 mph.....I thought 15 mph was pretty fast for me at the beginning of a 60 miler! I think there was one behind me, and within the first 10 miles, I passed 2 guys. And then I rode alone. It was great! Sun, very little wind, holy hills, great gravel roads, a few short stretches of pavement, rolling farmland, beautiful woods.....
About 20 or so miles in, I could see riders coming towards me, as the 36 mile course merged with the 60 mile course. I could also see an ambulance with flashing lights come at me. I pulled off to let it pass.....my phone wasn't ringing, so I figured it wasn't Paul. At the next intersection, there was a bike on the side of the road that wasn't Paul's.....whew. The 36 millers were zipping past me, then I got into a group that was going more my speed. The Warbird has this crazy 50 tooth front gear that I only use on special occasions like downhill on pavement with the wind at my back (well, maybe when 2 of the 3 line up....). When riding with the 36 milers, I was struggling on the uphills more than usual. I just felt like I couldn't get my bike in the bottom gear, so was contemplating stopping to adjust one of the barrel rollers. Then I got to a downhill on smooth gravel and went to put it over into the big chain ring and it wouldn't shift....'cuz I already had it in the big chain ring! No wonder I was having trouble! (sorry about putting the chain through the torture of stretching from big gear to big end of the cassette.)
Food and drink were going well, although I regretted not wearing my hydration pack, as that is a much easier for getting small sips as I go. The 60 milers did a 10 mile lolly pop loop at the 35 mile mark. On this loop, I stopped to take my XC ski gloves off and put lighter ones on, extract my PB and J sandwich from the depths of my jacket pockets (and eat it), and most importantly, turn my music on. Me and Lady Gaga (and Gord Downie and Panic at the Disco and a few other select guests) rocked the second half of the course.
I had to stop at one of the road crossings as the Sheriff indicated to me that the cross traffic was not going to stop. CRAMP. Cripes. So I worked harder on getting the Shot Bloks/SportsLegs/and a gel consumed in the next 5 miles. One more leg clamp of a cramp just before one of the last uphill stretches, but I pedalled on. Finally, there were just 2 miles to go (not flat!) and I got it done.
Best of all, there was still lots of food and beer left! Sadly, I did not win the fat bike draw prize.
There were 6 women in the 60 mile, and I was dead last. About 95 guys did it too (that ratio is SO wrong!!!!!!).....and 2-3 finished behind me (update....4 guys finished after me). But I was very happy with my >12 mph pace....by the time I am in the 60 and over category, I'll be up to 14-15 mph!