Saturday, August 21, 2010

2010 Gravel Worlds

Here's Gravel Worlds through my eyes. It was a excellent event! Entry costs nothing and everyone is eligible. That is very cool. The Pirate Cycling League did an amazing job running the race. Sign up was fast and easy, thanks in part to an opportunity to sign waivers the night before in downtown Lincoln. Saturday morning all we had to do was check in and have a number wrote on our leg. Cornbread made some announcements before hand, and at 6am we started with a neutral roll out. There were 98(?) official racers that started and a few others that rode out as well. As the day wore on most dropped out. 30-some ended up pedaling the whole 150 miles. Congrats to each of them! It was an epic accomplishment! The roads of course were not closed, but we had very little traffic, and everyone was really cool about sharing the road as far as I could tell. There were separate classes for single speed, mens and womens, even tandem. The single speed riders (bikes with no gears) are hardcore and really were tested to the limit on some of those big hills! I got in behind Guitar Ted for a spell and snapped this picture. You should read his take on Gravel Worlds. There was a light fog as the sun rose. There was basically no wind most of the day. And some of the country we rode through was really scenic. Again, congrats needs to go out to the PCL guys for picking an amazing route. Yeah, I was sucking wind. Riding on gravel, or in many cases on dirt roads has a lot more resistance than pavement. And they don't grade the hills or fill in the valleys on the county roads like they do on the highways. Riding gravel is a true test. And riding in a big group gives you a sense of urgency and extra energy, the moral support we give each other is amazing. I always ride better when I'm with others. To prove we'd made it to the edges of the course we had to stop at three checkpoints and buy a Nebraska lottery ticket. Powerball tickets show what time they were purchased. These stops gave us a chance to pickup drinks and food too. Some of the dirt roads were still damp from rains earlier this week. The clay soil made for some tacky riding and since I was using my Felt road bike with the widest tires I could fit on it (28mm) the mud would pack up the fork making it even harder to pedal. Most riders use cycle cross. But there were mountain bikes and even some other road bikes. Between Valparaiso and Malcolm I was struggling to keep my core body temp down and was starting to bonk. Patches rode with me the whole time, and I was asking to take breaks more and more. In this picture I had to lay down in the ditch for a few minutes before getting back on to ride more. By the time we'd hit Malcolm it was about 12:15 (I think) and I was shot. I could have gone more but it would have been slow and painful. This is where it went from being fun to being brutal. And since I am a casual cyclist and not an athlete I had no problem calling my wife and getting my sorry butt hauled back to Lincoln. I left my phone with Patches and told him to call me when he got tired and I'd go get him. Patches took the liberty of snapping some pictures with my phone. This is a 'sign' directing racers to an 'oasis' for water, snacks and rest. A few locals that lived along the route offered up their property, food, water, hospitality and more and were a welcome site to riders who were feeling sapped after all those miles! When I got back to Lincoln I picked up some gallon jugs of water and left them on the route around 4th road & Hwy 2 at about mile 120 for anyone who might be running out of water at that point. Then I called Patches to see if he wanted picked up yet. He asked me to meet him in Hickman. I waited outside of Hickman with this group from Omaha that knew about Gravel Worlds and decided on their own that it'd be cool to set up a stop. They took a day to sit out in the sun and they spent their own money on pop, beer, ice, water, pizza, pb&j, candy, etc. to give out to cyclist. How cool is that? These guys rocked! The hospitality of everyone throughout the day was overwhelming. Here Patches rolls into the 3rd and final checkpoint before the end in Hickman. Yes, it's 98' on the bank clock. He had 115 miles on his mountain bike. Since he usually rides a recumbent, the first thing he said to me was, "I could keep going, but my ass is killing me. Next year we're going to train for this and finish it!" This was around 4pm after 10 hours of riding! I picked up a couple of others from Lincoln in Hickman who were too thrashed to go on and gave them a ride back to the fairgrounds where the race started and ended. When I was there Jon Vandracek rolled in and took 1st place in the Masters Men division. You can find all the results on the PCL blog. Take a look at the dust on my legs once I took my shoes and socks off!

All in all I made it to the first two out of the three checkpoints before pulling the plug. I felt pretty shelled and hot by the time I quit, but otherwise was ok. I quit the 150 mile gravel race with an average speed of 12.6 mph, average cadence of 72 rpm, ride time of 5 hrs 13 min, and a total of 66.1 miles.


  1. Having experienced the brutality of that ride twice, great job man. I was out with the kids on Saturday and kept thinking "dang, it's HOT out here".. I remember exactly what it's like on the gravel. Whew.

  2. Great job Shane. That was a tough day. Thanks for coming out and enjoying the ride.


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