The Mix Tape Recap -early season Gravel race


#1

Today, I completed a 50 mile gravel race in Lakeville MA. This 50 mile race had about 20 miles of decent roads, 10 miles of decent dirt or single track and 20 miles of non-graded, washed out gravel or single track. This is pretty common on gravel adventure races in New England.

Background: For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a 51 year old female mostly mountain bike rider. I also ride a fair amount of gravel.
Last year I rode 5000 miles and have been coached by Theia since last January.
I have been struggling with sciatica which got much worse about 2 months ago. I am in PT for it.
I have had a hard time training consistently due to this injury.

Also, I am riding Rasputista (again) in northern Vermont in 2 weeks. This is a famous gravel race or should I say 43 mile, 4000 ft of climbing in mud, snow, and dirt. There are places you walk a mile through 18 inches of slush. It is quite the adventure.

Like last year, I do a long gravel event to dial in my setup and see what I need to change for equipment and fueling for one of my main events.

  1. Since I am coming back from injury, it was important for me to “take it easy” and just see what my leg and back can tolerate and to complete the event.

  2. Having done the Theia workouts for over a year, I am better at using the tools in my toolbox regarding cadence, VO2 work, climbing and pacing. This race had many surface changes -dirt, pavement, 3” loose rocks for roads, rocks and roots, sand, mud, and pine grove. Unlike, pavement, different surfaces require different power, pedaling and torque to get up. I thought I did pretty well here.

  3. The first 4 miles were a neutral roll out. Like Zwift, there were people racing from the get go. My goal was to find a group to pace-line with at a speed and tempo that I could do comfortably. We stayed in a fairly large group for 10 to 15 miles- then came the single-track and dirt (mud) roads with giant puddles. Picking good lines through the bombed out roads was quite difficult.
    This course, rattled the bike pretty well. ( Thank you core training).

  4. What could have gone better:

    1. Fueling and drinking. I had 2 water bottles on my bike with scratch. A 2L camelback with 1.5liters of water. Two pickybars. 1 pack of gels. 1 stroopwafel.
      There were long stretches of riding when you could not take your hands off the handlebars. Because of this, I did not eat or drink as much as I should have. I cannot only drink water for endurance events. Unfortunately, I didn’t drink enough water or skratch.
      I ate the waffle, and pack of gels and half a peanut butter jelly sandwich at the one rest stop. I will definitely bring a cut up sandwich to Rasputista. Real food on long trips is a must.
    2. Change what is on my wahoo screen. This was a well marked ride but I always download the map to my wahoo elemnt. On the map screen, I need to add time. I did not eat every 20 minutes like we planned since I didn’t know what time it was.
    3. Clothing- I had my clothing choices nailed down except for my glasses. I forgot to put my photochromatic lenses into my frames. This could have been a huge problem if it was sunny. We were lucky 50-60’s with no wind. Only needed arm warmers early in the ride. I wore light wool socks and toe covers.
    4. Bike- Tires were the right pressure - 40psi and right tread for conditions (Schwalbe G-one tubeless). My handlebars were not set correctly. The brake hoods were too high causing my wrist to be at the wrong angle. This was my fault from working on my bike earlier in the season. I leveled them out as soon as I got home.

My leg started burning around mile 43, which I actually expected to happen earlier.

I was happy with my effort and we had a great time!


#2

Great job @Petals! Thanks for all the details in your write up -it’s a great help to others of us just getting started with this kind of thing. I’ve had similar issues with nutrition during gravel events - lots of Skratch in the bottles and not enough “easy road” time to drink. Good luck at Rasputista!!


#3

Thanks for the detailed write-up Linda! As Alice said, these can be very helpful to others.

You did a fantastic job on this event!

One thing I would like to point out to everyone is that even though Linda has reduced her training hours due to the sciatica issue and treatment, she remained consistent. Meaning, she continued to do something every week, even if it meant only one or two rides/workouts in a given week and 3 times the next as she felt better. Of course this isn’t always possible depending on the injury or health issue. But my message here is that even if you have things in your life that mess up your schedule, doing something- even if just a little- is helpful and better than nothing at all. Even if you only have 30 minutes. That’s still better than nothing, and your athletic body will continue to benefit from it.

It is usually difficult to eat and drink during a gravel race. For an event like this with even more varied terrain it can be impossible while riding. Great points for your next ones, @Petals in terms of having your electrolyte drink in the Camelback and cutout food.

You might even try mixing some liquid nutrition in one of the bottles along with Skratch for the very technical sections. I use CarboPro. @dfriestedt used to drink CarboPro but that no longer agrees with his stomach so he is searching for an alternative. I recommended that he look into Infinity Nutrition. I did my last gravel race (3hs) entirely on Skratch and CarboPro (no solid foods) and did fine, but could tell that Drew needed some protein and solid food. For anything longer than 3hs I would go with solid foods and add some protein as well. You have to find what works best for you.

It’s great to use an earlier event to do a “dress rehearsal” like Linda did, or even during a longer ride before the main event.

#mixtape #gravelrace #gravel


#4

Great write up! I too need to (re)figure out how to eat on these races. Carbopro was my go to source. But for some reason I can’t stomach it like I could in the past. I’ve found recently that when I need to eat solid food it’s hard to get it down when there is so much hammering. I find it hard to breath and eat and not choke to death.

I think I just need to practice more because in 2018 I really did not eat much solid food. Cutting the tops off the bars is a good start. Maybe I need to find something that is less solid and easier to bite into.

As @Coach_Theia said, I might experiment with Infinity… I’ll let you know what I find.