Northern Vermont. Pouring rain, sleet, snow, hail. Temp never cracked 40F. 95% on race is on “dirt” roads better known as mud. 40 miles, 4600 ft of climbing.
This time of year is mud season in northern Vermont. Vermont has seen record rainfall this year, which was quite noticeable.
As many of you know, I have been rehabbing sciatica for the past couple months. So, while not on my A game, I was still going to give it everything I got - which included my brakes.
1600 people registered, 1300 started, 863 finished. And Rick and I were part of the finishers!
My husband and I brought literally everything for clothing- except for our cold weather surfing wetsuits (which in hindsight- would have been a good choice).
What I brought:
Clothing: Midweight wool baselayer, rapha windproof front wool LS Jersey, team SS Jersey, SS baselayer, rapha bibs, midweight tights, 2 pair midweight wool socks, PI waterproof jacket, 2 winter cycling hats, 2 pair winter “waterproof” cycling gloves, thermal arm and leg warmers, PI thermal amfib jacket, glasses.
Gear: sidi winter boots, lg camelback, waterbottle, multitool, duct tape, valve stem, valve stem tool, extra cleat with screws, Co2, bike pump, skratch, gels, picky bars, gu chews, tube, tire levers, 2 plastic baggies. My cross bike with schwalbe g-one 40mm tires.
The race was separated by waves, with 3 mile neutral start at 9am. Lucky us, it poured all night and was still raining at the start.
I packed and repacked my Camelback about 5 times. In one baggie I placed an extra pair of gloves, wool socks, cap and my second baggie, I wrapped my thermal arm and leg warmers, wind vest. I wore all the other clothes but my warmer PI amfib jacket. Amazingly, I was warm enough to ride the whole race. At the start, we realized we forgot our water bottles, so good thing we put skratch in our camelbacks.
Rasputitsa 2019 was the worst weather conditions in the history of the race . Even some of the pros needed to stop due to hypothermia.
75% of people who didnt finish had stopped by rest stop #2 at mile 20. At mile 18, I could no longer feel my left foot since my shoe was filled with water. Rick and I stopped and I replaced my socks and wrapped my feet with the baggies I wrapped my clothes in. Within 5 minutes, I could feel both my feet. I switched my waterproof gloves, since the first pair were like wet sponges.
Now, most (smart) people would have stopped at this point…but not us!
I kept my head down and sang the mantra “pedal, pedal, pedal” in my head. I knew to limit my stopping so I wouldn’t cool off. We did stop at the 4 feed zones to grab water and food. It was so wet, we could not take off our gloves to open food, so we had to grab food at the feed zones.
How did the rest of the race go?
Rick stated to cramp in both thighs at mile 26. By mile 30, I no longer had a front brake and barely any back brake (yes- i had new disc pads on) so I just “let it fly” on the downhills. Thank goodness there was so much climbing to keep us warm. Rick and I stuck together with 2 other guys we met and worked our way through the course. I had a heart stopping moment 1/2 mile from the finish where i could not take the sharp left turn to the finish line so I had to go all the way down a hill until I stopped and ride back up the hill and down to the finish. Amazingly we all made it to the finish.
The finish at Rasputista was amazing! Many of the racers were there laughing and congratulating the finishers. The food was excellent!
The next morning, I got to go to a women’s breakfast with many of the women and female pros, including my idols Lea and Sabra Davison - the founder’s of Little Bellas.
So, what did I learn?
- You can never be too prepared. Bring multiple changes of clothes. Bring plastic baggies (great for waterproofing). Bring a pair of surgical gloves (also a great waterproof barrier).
- Practice different scenarios and feeding schedules. As much as you prepare, be flexible. Long, challenging rides can throw some curveballs. Deal with each problem as they arise.
- We are tougher than we believe we are. I was like Dory from Finding Nemo “Just keep swimming.” I went at a steady pace and broke the ride into small, bite-size pieces. My training has been limited due to injury, but that doesn’t mean I’m not in shape.
- Also- know your limitations. The weather was dangerous and no joke. Five of the people I went with stopped due to hypothermia- all before mile 20.
The sweep vehicles and company did an amazing job! When Rick was cramping, the sweep stopped and gave him a Hotshot. They would check on him multiple times after that.
- The Northeast Kingdom area of Vermont is an amazing community!!! They were out cheering! They helped bring bikes back to the start. They participated in the party, foodzones, and cheering sections.
Yes- Rick and I will be back for another year!