Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mammoth Gravel Classic

That ride was reminiscent of when I was in high school when I got nominated to participate in a game of "donkey basketball" as a fundraiser for our high school Ag program (I am pretty sure that this fundraising practice is outlawed nowadays)  It consisted of careening out of control, almost getting bucked off (don't doubt my ability to cover some hide), dragging a recalcitrant animal around, and getting the poop kicked out of me, repeatedly while trying to shoot hoops in the gym.  It was incredibly fun, had a ton of laughs, and I was wore slap out when it was all said and done.  The Mammoth Gravel Classic had all of these hallmarks (minus the donkey kicks).

When I rolled into the Cyclova XC shop in downtown Saint Croix Falls, I immediately saw several friendly faces as we got signed in, picked up Gandy Dancer Trail Passes, and shot the bull with Frank and Ben, the proprietors of Cyclova XC.  Got to visit with Wooly Race Organizer Matt Fisk, who was leading us out of town in a Chevy Volt.  Thought that was a nice touch.

Once we we hit River Road it was all business as a ton of people surged to the front, and the group was really zipping along at 22 mph.  Saw multiple Tandems, including the Salsa Prototype Tandem that was captained by Joe Meiser and powered by Jason Gaikowski.  I was really impressed with how Salsa spec'ed it. I also was please to see that instead of using a tandem specific crankset, they ran the timing chain on the drive side on the granny rings.  I saw a tandem at NAHMB that was set up the same way, and thought it was a great idea as there are so few decent, modern tandem cranks.

Once we hit Wolf Creek it was time to move up as the soft sand was making things pretty sketch.  Managed  to stay in the top 30 until we hit 310th Ave when the blow sand really started to pull the group apart.  I managed to stay clear and found myself in the top 5 with Jesse Rients trying to chase down the couple of mountain bikers that got away.  After a couple minutes of watching Jesse ride away, I heard Chad Sova and Barry Tungseth roll up behind me, and we started to give chase.  At the 25 mile mark I stopped for a PBR at the aid station that they so graciously provided.  That meant that Chad and Barry got away, but I had a PBR to keep me company.
Being on the SS leaves me under no illusions about my place in the world.....or at least the peleton.
I managed to catch back up to Barry a mile or two later.  Sova was gone.  Barry and I traded pulls on County Rd O until we got overtaken by the train that Ted Loosen was driving.  Barry and I tagged along for about 7 miles before I popped.  We had just made contact with Sova, but I just was not able to keep up the mad spinning that it took to compensate for the surging as guys were pulling through.  Barry was kind enough to fall of the back with me, and we pretty much occupied no mans land for the rest of the ride.

My thighs we starting to cramp pretty bad by the time we started to hit the climbs right before Luck.  I tried to walk up one of the climbs, but that did not really help.  I was able to spin it out once we hit the Gandy Dancer.  We rode with Jesse for a little while on the Gandy, as he was the only one from the lead group to stop for coffee at Cafe Wren, but we fell back about 6 miles from the finish.  With about 3 miles to go I whipped out the PBR that I picked up about 40 miles earlier, and split it with Barry.  Was a good way to finish the ride.

Was great route that was well marked, and I thought that it was a excellent way for Cyclova XC to highlight the great routes around that area.  Many thanks to all the people that put in the time and effort to make this awesome event happen.

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