Gravel Worlds was last Saturday, it was a hell of a lot of fun and a kick in the shorts at the same time. I apologize for the tardiness of this post but the race was on Saturday and then on Sunday I jumped on a plane and flew to Kentucky for work and was out there taking care of business until yesterday but I'm back now so lets get this thing rolling...
Heading down to Lincoln early Friday afternoon I was really hoping that I had learned enough and rode enough since last year to be able to not repeat the events of the previous year. As has become the norm, I take a half day off of work to get to the registration early and help out where I can and then go check into the hotel and prep for the impending race. Cycle Works, the Pirate Cycling League and the Petervarys welcome you to Gravel Worlds 2016.
I tried to convince Tracey and Jay that I was super busy but they just followed me around until I promised to take a picture with them. Kidding of course, they are cool people and are very gracious as I am sure they get bombarded with requests for photos and such everywhere they go that people recognize them. I'm not sure if I could do that day in and day out myself so it was really rad of them to stop and pose for a shot with me.
In addition to the normal registration, this year Salsa Cycles and Club Ride Apparel came down and had bikes to ride and clothes to fondle if that was your sort of thing and really, who isn't into cycling clothes and bicycles... well, nobody I want to know.
During registration there was a little confusion as it turned out that there were two of me, well two Rob Evans' any way, one racing in the men's open and the other riding in the fat category... bike not dude, although there could be an argument made for that also. As it turned out this would be the closest I'd get to the other me as he simply crushed the course the next day, taking the overall win with a blistering time of 8 hours and 16 minutes. The lady photo bombing us is Amity Gregg and she is no slouch either, turning in a time of 9:44, which was good enough for third in the women's open division and 35th overall. So basically this photo was the only time I was even with the other Rob and in front of Amity, both are way too fast for this guy.
Since there was a demo going on and Salsa brought several of their new rides, I decided to give one or two a try. For all it's kooky, crazy looks I was pretty amazed at the ride of the Woodsmoke. Those uber short chain stays had the bike turning on a dime, yet the big 29+ tires provided enough stability so that you never felt out of control or twitchy like any 26" bike I get on does any more and in this more subdued colorway the asymmetrical chain stay isn't as noticeable.
Everyone seemed to want to take the Woodsmoke for a spin and it seemed like everyone really liked the way it rode, I think it'll be a big seller despite it's Franken-bike looks.
I also managed a ride on the Timberjack and the new Mukluk, the jack laced up with 27.5+ tires was fun to ride as well but it didn't awe me the way the Woodsmoke did. Don't get me wrong, I think the Timberjack is a great bike and a fitting replacement to the El Mariachi in the Salsa lineup but at the same time it didn't stand out or wow me like the Woodsmoke or even the new Mukluk did. The Mukluk was also a pleasure to ride, the carbon frame was light and stiff and even on those fat 5" tires it rode like a much more nimble bike than you'd think it would be by looking at it.
In addition to the bikes that were available to ride, it was great to talk to some of the fellow competitors that would be toeing the line at the race as well, some I see more frequently than others but all a pleasure to talk to.
This would be Sarah's first Gravel Worlds and what more badass of a way to show up for your first Gravel Worlds than on a Brompton, in a dress. While she might look like a cycling commuter I assure you, she's a super strong gravel crusher and you'd better bring your legs if you want to keep up.
The #sovag gang was well represented at Gravel Worlds with Janelle, Ed, Brian, Gary, Jamie, Sarah, Stephanie, Joe and myself all racing and Matt lending a hand as a volunteer due to prior family commitments that kept him from racing.
Haven't ridden much with Josh but he is a strong rider in his own regards, ended up 74th overall and 44th in his category. Great job Josh.
Scott and William came down for the registration, Scott as you might remember rode with Brian and I at the Tour of Dirt Roads and helped make it a great ride and a great day. I'm not sure if William is that into riding that he's crazy enough to take on a 145 miles of gravel but what he lacks in cycling desire he more than makes up for in general fun dude to hang out with-ness. We probably shouldn't have been allowed to hover around the kegs of beer unsupervised.
Always good to see Damon as well, he's always there in the background helping to make sure things are organized and running smooth but we need to get this guy back out from behind the scenes and atop a bicycle a little more often. His sock game was impeccable!
In an effort to not turn this post into a novel or a really long novella and put everyone to sleep I'm going to break it into two posts, the registration and then the race itself. So, with that said I'll leave you with a few shots of the bikes of Gravel Worlds for this post.
145 miles of gravel is tough, it's super tough on a fat bike but it's near impossible on a bicycle without wheels.
Several Powderkegs showed up for Gravel Worlds, if I can find a riding partner and a loaner Powederkeg I'd love to try one of these events aboard one of these bad boys. Imagine the pictures I could get if I wasn't concerned with that silly steering bit!
The Powderkeg wasn't the only flavor of tandem however, there were a total of 6 teams entered in Gravel Worlds... now those guys/gals are crazy.
Some really rad racing rigs for sure, it's always interesting to walk around and look at other racer's bike, gear and setup choices compared to your own, even if it does make you second guess yourself at times but the night before the race is not the time to go changing things.
After shooting enough pictures to keep a one hour photo in business for weeks in ye olden days of film, it was time to get to the hotel and unload before the dark clouds decided to unload themselves. Turned out to be a wise decision, I had just finished offloading the bike at the hotel and parking the car when the skies opened up and lots of water fell from the sky. That rain would play a part in tomorrows race for sure, soft or wet gravel is a whole different animal than dry, fast gravel; especially when faced with 145 miles of it.
But that's a tale for a different day, much like Jay and Tracey, this post is riding off into the sunset.
Next up is the race itself, stay tuned for the final Gravel Worlds 2016 chapter.