Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Odin's Revenge - Riding In A Sandbox

A few months ago I decided to throw my hat in the ring, metaphorically speaking of course, as it was actually a  postcard in the mail but either way I decided to enter Odin's Revenge, riding their short course  which is a mere 60 miles; like a walk in the park really. Okay, so in comparison to the long course, 168-ish miles, the short course isn't even half the distance but 60 miles is no joke either when you're talking an unsupported gravel ride in the heat. The short course is also technically not a race according to the event organizers, although it should be, but that didn't keep anyone "riding" the short course from pushing themselves hard and treating it like a race for the most part, myself included to an extent. There was a time a few years ago that I used to race... I also used to be thinner, younger, in much better shape, more of a type A, beat your chest and howl at the moon personality as well; of course gas used to be less than $2, people were nicer to each other and Al Gore hadn't yet invented the internet...  but shit changes, priorities change, life throws you curves, that's just the way it goes you either fight it or just role with it. Since I'm more of a racing has been that never really was, the 60 mile "ride" sounded like a great place to start to see what this gravel racing is all about. Don't get me wrong, I've put in my fair share of gravel miles but I'd never thrown my leg over a top tube in anything that amounted to an actual competition so this would be my first.

Photo Jun 26, 12 15 26 PM

After putting in a respectable 4 hours at work before punching the clock to start the weekend, I rushed home to collected my bike and gear before heading over Tyler's to grab him and his gear and then pointing the car west towards Gothenburg. Tyler opted for his cross bike, while I decided to stick with the Farley which has pretty much been my go to gravel bike since getting it, I have far less pucker moments on loose gravel on those wide, cushy tires.


A few hours later and we had arrived at Walker's Steakhouse for the rider check in.



From the looks of things we were a tad early as most of the riders were yet to show so we decided to go check in at the hotel and drop our bikes and gear off. Luckily for us we seemed to be one of the few people whose room was ready when we went to check in at the hotel, seems like quite a few folks were told that their rooms were not quite ready even as the hours ticked on towards 5 pm. My understanding is that the hotel was booked solid with Odin's racers and a wedding party and two employees had called in so it was kind of a perfect storm as far as timing went.

Photo Jun 26, 6 26 22 PM

Now this is more like it, by the time we got back to Walker's things were picking up and people were pouring in.


Saw a lot of familiar faces and met a few new ones, including Guitar Ted. I've read and enjoyed his blog and various website contributions for a few years so it was nice to finally shake the guys hand and say "hi" in person. It was almost like being in the presence of a celebrity, not like an Oprah or Madonna level celebrity but more like getting to meet Donald Trump or any of the cast of Jersey Shores but you know, who doesn't like Snooki? Kidding of course, he seemed like a good dude and someone you could sit and talk with for hours.


Can't remember what this guys name was because I have early on set of "I can't remember shit" but he was really good, I had my back to him initially and it took me a few minutes to realize it was live and not something from the jukebox he was that good.




Not being that far from Lincoln there was a good contingency of Lincolnites, Pirates and Rasta Riders.

Photo Jun 26, 7 27 51 PM

Conversations were great, food was good, beer was cold and went down smooth, heck I even managed to win a pair of sweet cycling socks in the raffle and scored some free Scratch Labs mixes.

Photo Jun 26, 9 26 46 PM

Once the meeting was over most people headed to wherever they called home for the night to do any last minute prep work that might need done before turning in for the night, I didn't have much to do myself except add this sticker to the Farley's fork, it was the missing piece that tied everything together. After the painstaking hours applying the sticker it was time to turn in for the night, Tyler was racing the long course so WTFour in the morning was going to come really quick.


Since I knew Rick was coming down, bringing his fat bike and we ride at similar speed, we loosely made a plan to ride Odin's together as well.


Thanks to Comfort Inn for starting breakfast early and Debe for snagging the bacon, the sticker from last night ended up being pretty prophetic.


Amazingly I didn't forget anything this go round, unfortunately the same was not true for Rick so he had to craft a custom Garmin mount the morning of the race. Is there anything, besides stupid, that duct tape can't fix?


Once the Garmin was adequately secured we headed over to the KOA and met up with a few other Cycle Works riders who were also having a few issues, Monsignor Tucker was having some tire seating problems but he was able to get them to work for him with Corey's assistance.

Odin's Revenge 2015.
Photo by Debe Dockhorn

Rastas had a strong showing for the short course.


Like I said, this was my first time riding in Odin's Revenge and my first time in Gothenburg so I can't swear to it but all this water doesn't look normal. Seems like everyone has been getting more than enough water this year.


Gratuitous crotch shot or a display of Travis's unique way of carrying his in ride nutrition?


This is Jeff and his daughter Piper, Jeff was planning on riding and attempting to win the long course but at the last minute decided to ride the short course on a tandem with his daughter instead. If you ask me he might not have won the long course but he was still a winner that day, especially to his daughter.


Prep time, crotch shots, water measuring and tire fixing time was officially over and it was time to get down to the riding/racing. At this point in the race I was holding a strong fourth place, the fact the race had just begun and that we were being paced out by a truck is of little consequence if you ask me, fourth is fourth.


There was about a mile and a half of asphalt at a moderate pace before we would be dumped into the gravel and I'm already dropping places.



And then we hit the gravel, if you can call this stuff gravel, to me it more resembled the sandbox type sand you'd find at an elementary school playground in both depth and consistency; not ideal for riding in and nothing like the gravel we have in Lincoln/Omaha. I was really glad at this point that I decided to bring the fat bike vs. the cross bike, that extra float kept me on top of most of the thick stuff.



As the flats started turning into rollers, I settled into a nice even pace that I was pretty sure I'd be able to maintain for the entire 60 miles. While the bigger tires might float on the gravel more than the thinner cross bike tires, they require a bit more effort to push up the hills and I didn't have anyone pick me up if I bonked so I decided it would be better to give up a few positions to keep from burning out too soon.





Rick and I spent most of the race trading places, he'd pull ahead for a bit, I'd eat a few gummy bears, get a second wind and catch up or pass him and then we'd repeat the whole process over and over and over again. I'm not complaining as it was nice to have the company and at our pace I was also able to look around and really appreciate the scenery of the land we were riding in.


Not sure if the cows were not used to seeing people or if the sight of people meant food but man did they seem to take an uncanny interest in us and just stare as we rode by.


A bit of a TMI moment, I started to feel like I needed to drop the deuce as soon as I got to the KOA even though I had tried several times before leaving the hotel, I didn't see a bathroom anywhere in sight and the gas station wasn't open yet so at his point there wasn't much to do but just ride and hope for the best. At about mile 10 it almost felt like I had a turtle head poking out at times but since bathrooms were at a premium I figured I'd just have pinch it closed, vent as necessary and hope for nothing solid to try to sneak out. Mile 30 brought us to Potter's Pasture and Porta-Potties, after struggling with the jersey/bibs for a few minutes I was finally able to free myself... and there I sat and sat and sat. Confronted with the perfect opportunity to evacuate, my previous impatient colon now seemed gun shy... gave up after 5 minutes with not a plop, drop or so much as a wet fart as time was burning and I still had 30 miles left. Rick had gone on so I had a bit of catching up to do but managed to get back up to him in a few miles and so the yo-yo continued. On the bright side the need to vent subsided after the failed attempt at Potter's, the sight of what was in the Porta-Potties must have scared it back up into the intestine.


The final 30 miles was mostly a gradual decent with a few "bumps" here and there to keep a person from just cruising home. The last 8 miles of dirt was Canal Road, about the only hard packed dirt we saw all day and it was a nice welcome over the loose, deep gravel we had been slogging along in for most of the ride, my average speed and legs appreciated it immensely.


After Canal Road all that was left was the same mile and a half of asphalt and then Odin's Revenge was done for me, 60 miles, 4 hours 48 minutes with an average of 12.4 mph according to the Garmin, the official time was three minutes more but whose splitting hairs as either way it was good for a share of 9th place with Rick as we rolled in at the same time which is good because I don't know if I would have followed had he decided to sprint it in.

Photo Jun 27, 8 00 38 PM

Odin's Revenge was a great time put on by fantastic people, it'll definitely be on my must do list again next year... the question is short course again or try my hand at the long course.

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