Monday, June 23, 2014

RiotGRRRaveL Wrap up

A few weeks ago I was blogging about how scared I was riding on gravel and how I didn't think I would be able to finish the gravel race - RiotGRRRaveL - that I signed up to ride. I went through Gravel Fears ... and Gravel Tears but then managed to get my bike adjusted better so that I was more comfortable. A day before the RiotGRRRaveL ride, I was still pretty nervous about riding the 30 some miles but planned to go ahead and give it a go. My goals for the ride were pretty basic:
  1. finish the ride
  2. average 10 mph
  3. have fun
Well, guess what? I finished the RiotGRRRaveL gravel bike race on Saturday and accomplished my goals and then some!

Here's my RiotGRRRaveL Race Rundown:

First off, I finished the race! That is an accomplishment in itself because a couple of weeks ago I was about to give up on riding gravel. My longest gravel ride ever was only 16 miles long and my longest ride of the year so far was a road ride of 27 miles. I know 30 gravel miles is nothing to a lot of riders but it was a lot for me. And who is comparing anyway? I mean, who cares of someone else thinks 30 miles is easy? This was my race, not anyone else's race so what someone else can do just doesn't matter. I rode my race and I finished. I am happy!
Here's Lisa and I about to ride over the RiotGRRRaveL finish line (and the RiotGRRRaveL photographer, Kate)
Second,  I exceeded my goal speed of 10 mph and ended up averaging about 12 mph. To top it off, my knee didn't hurt, my wrist didn't hurt much and overall I felt pretty strong. I also really didn't stop to rest during the whole route - I took two short breaks of about 5 minutes each. Not stopping to rest is really rare for me - typically on a 30 mile ride I would stop for 15 minutes or more, have a cup of coffee, chat with people, etc. I like resting. I'm pretty convinced that I NEED to rest. But I discovered on Saturday that I can ride 30 miles without taking a significant break. This surprised me!

Here we are having FUN along the RiotGRRRaveL race route
Third - and most importantly - I had fun. FUN FUN FUN! Yes, I had a great time. My friend, Lisa, rode with me and she's a lot of the reason I had fun. We talked. We sang. We smiled. We laughed. We also pedaled and pedaled and pedaled worked hard and struggled up the hills. I know I found myself thinking that the miles would never end a few times. But we kept pedaling. And we finished the ride with some energy to spare - not much energy in my case - but enough energy so that I didn't fall over and only had to take a two hour nap when I got home (boy, did that nap feel good!)

Other things that contributed to the FUN factor of RiotGRRRaveL (yep, this gets kinda long but read on if you feel so moved)

FIRST OFF - Ellie, the person who came up with this RiotGRRRaveL race in the first place. I'm so grateful that Ellie decided to create "a fun, accessible ride that is woman & family friendly." When I saw the race announcement, I think it was on the Salsa Cycles Facebook page, I was SO excited! I'd wanted to do a gravel race but have been totally intimidated by the typical 100 mile ride length. I had been wishing for a ride just like RiotGRRRaveL and am just thrilled that Ellie forged ahead and made the ride happen. When I saw the info on RiotGRRRaveL I signed up immediately because I knew this ride would be perfect for me. And it was.

My family (husband, Owen, and kids, Rose and Ryan) acted as our cheering section along the route. They cheered as we took off from the start line, stopped at a couple of places to cheer for us enroute and were at the finish line to cheer for us and congratulate us when we finished - and they cheered for the other rides on the race, too. Also, Rose washed my bike the night before the race and Owen gave it a once over to make sure it was ready to go. In short, Owen, Rose and Ryan were wonderful and supportive. Thank you! Thank you!

Good weather - Mostly sunny. No rain. Not too hot. Pretty much perfect.

A Fine Race Route - the original race route had to be changed because of flooding. Though we missed out on a more challenging route, I was okay with the change as the new route was somewhat flatter than the original and the gravel was consistently nicer with very few loose gravel spots. In short, it was not too intimidating but still enough of a challenge to be, well, a challenge.
Kris, Myrna and Lisa before the RiotGRRRaveL race
Fabulous Women (the guys were pretty fab, too) - Of the 82 entries, I believe 80% of the riders were women. At ride start I discovered that Kris, a woman I know (her husband, Todd, works at Milltown Cycles and helped me adjust my Vaya) was also riding. Kris is fabulously fast and placed 9th overall! I also recognized a woman from Northfield and met her riding companions and met several other great people along the route. There were experienced cyclists who were definitely racing (averaging over 19 mph), people like me who like to ride but have never raced, and some who had never ridden gravel before the race. Wow!  There was even a mom who rode her cargo bike and took her toddler along for the ride. (note: previously I wrote that the mom rode with baby and toddler because I saw the baby seat and a toddler in the cargo bike. I was wrong - the mom, Morgen, rode with her toddler who sat in the cargo basket some of the time and her car seat some of the time - click HERE to read Morgen's account of her ride with Zinnia) I loved the variety of people and the overall positive vibe.

Cool Bikes - I like bikes and couldn't help but check out all the bikes on the ride. There was a Vaya just like mine, probably 20 fat bikes, lots of bikes from Salsa, Surly and All-City Cycles and all sorts of other cool bikes. There was also a tandem (the tandem riders came in 8th place) and the cool cargo bike.

Prizes and like that - Banjo Brothers, Twin Six and Erik's Bikes contributed cool prizes to the race (Lisa won a t-shirt from Twin Six and a phone wallet from Banjo Brothers). There were lots of prizes! I know Freewheel Bike hosted a few seminars on gravel riding and flat tire fixing as well. There were cool t-shirts and water bottles with the RiotGRRRaveL logo on them as well. I'm probably missing something or someone...

Kate the Awesome Photographer - at several spots along the route Kate the photographer would be alongside the road with her camera. Kate not only took great pictures (check them out at her Flickr page) but it was such a treat to see someone along the route who would smile and wave at us. Plus I felt sort of famous getting my picture taken a lot.
Another great picture by Kate Lockhart of a bunch of RiotGRRRaveL riders
Organized Event - an event with cool people isn't much fun if the event isn't well run. RiotGRRRaveL was well organized and everything ran smoothly from my perspective. Part of the organizational success was due, I'm sure,  to all of the ....

Awesome Volunteers - The RiotGRRRaveL race could not have happened without many great volunteers. There were people to sign us in, mark our times as we crossed the finish line, ride the route before the race and re-route the route the night before the race. There  were volunteers like Max (who I know from playing in the Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra and from LEGO League) who helped along the route and passed out snacks, and ride organizer, Ellie's, family (husband, Tony and daughters Cedar & Zelia) who, I'm sure, lived and breathed RiotGRRRavel these past few months. Our ride start and end was at Hope Lutheran Church and church members stepped up with snacks before and after the race and let us use the bathrooms - yay!

So that's it - RiotGRRRaveL 2014 is a wrap. It sounds like Ellie and crew may offer the ride again next year. If so, I'm looking forward to doing it again!

Thanks again, Ellie, for RiotGRRRaveL. You are fabulous!
Thanks again, Lisa, for pedaling every mile of the ride with me and for keeping me smiling :-)
Riding on down the RiotGRRRaveL road. Photo ©Kate Lockhart





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