‘The Motherlode’ is the name given to the 210 mile course variant at the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder. The event leaves from Spearfish South Dakota and heads up and into the Black Hills. Last year I raced the 110 mile ‘Gold Rush’ course and decided to go for the big one this time around, more sightseeing opportunities… or something like that. There is also a ‘Gold Dust’ 70 mile option on offer.
This morning my alarm went off at 3h30am. On purpose… At 5h00am I am embarking on what will be the one hundredth century ride of my life. Ninety nine century rides are a marker of preparation for what I'm tackling today (and a marker of a scientist keeping good records) and I have hope that they are enough. Many of those 99 days have been solo rides, and I am expecting today to be largely solo, but many have been with people who have become my best friends. You all are my inspiration today, thank you for sharing this sport with me! #FindItGrindIt
A selection of 6 formed by the top of the first quarter mile rise and we rolled together for the first two hours, Jim and I pulling the flat grades and the skinnyboyz punching it on all the uphills steeper than 1%. I stopped for water at Aid1, four of them skipped it, and proceeded to smash the first proper climb. It was just as well that I stopped so I didn't have to mentally decide whether or not to hang on or ride a more sensible pace.
Tons of cattle on open range along Grand Canyon Road, had to wait for them a few times but never for more than a minute. The road surface is crushed limestone and rolled really fast compared to last year when it was freshly graded. Nice cool temperatures meant I made some quick progress without a whole lot of effort.
I was within sight of three leaders departing Aid2 as I rolled in but once back into the curvy roads in the woods I was alone again, not even clouds for company. Now in unfamiliar territory I settled into a routine of checking the route cues, checking the map, checking the odometer, checking the nutrition, checking the hydration, checking the legs, checking the breathing, and starting again from the top of the list. The miles started to tick by.
I caught the leaders at Aid3 and departed with Jim, Harley up the road about 3 minutes. Jim and I only managed to ride together ~5min before I left him, there would be no opportunity for cooperation in pursuit of the lead. At already 200km into the day it had got to the point that no bellies were happy, the views like this one did wonders to keep the mind in a good space though.
Aid4 was Moonshine Gulch Saloon, established 1878. 20 miles of some of the loosest gravel and steepest sustained climbing of the day to follow, Harley would gain 45 sec per mile here as I hit my mental low point of the day, blood sugar was down and I was force feeding myself jellybeans to sustain it. On the plus side, I learned I can still do 180 W for an hour when I feel like garbage.
Back at Trailshead for Aid5 I learned how much time Harley had put on me on the ascent and I no longer felt compelled to chase the lead which had been a bit of a burden. The jellybeans were starting to pay off too, and after a quick water refill I took off. A short puncher of a climb kicked off the final leg and then it was sweet sweet double track all the way down riflepit road. I was having so much fun I managed to set the KOM there, ahead of all of the 110 mile racers to boot! Roughlock Canyon was much firmer packed gravel than last year and made for smooth sailing too. All told the day wrapped up in 12h38, only 15 minutes of stopped-time which is pretty efficient considering racing without a support crew.
Quite possibly the coolest trophy ever won. 1st place Men under 39. pic.twitter.com/KV0advdmxY
— Joshua Krabbe (@jdkrabbe) June 12, 2017