Race Report

Race Report: 2021 Robidoux Quick & Dirty

I almost didn’t write a race report for this race, because really I think it can be summed up with “I rode for almost seven hours, soft pedaling, and hating life, and hating all the wind and sand, and why do I pay money for this? This is stupid, yeah, Dead Swede was better than this. I’m never doing another 100 mile race again.”

I mean, it really does sum it up!

Anyways, enough with my first world problems of whining about paying to race ride 100 miles. Robidoux Quick & Dirty was once again fantastic this year, and I really can’t blame Aaron for the wind and sand. I like this race because it has some pretty big corporate backing (like Specialized), but it keeps field sizes reasonable (about 500) and has the mom & pop feel to it. And, big plus, it is only 90 minutes from Cheyenne and a much more enjoyable drive than driving anywhere in Colorado!

I headed up the day before with my friend Julie, who has eagerly jumped into competitive cycling (and now is training for an Ironman because she’s awesome like that). We adventured a little bit to the national monument, had a snafu with a restaurant, and survived through me nearly crying at Which Wich, because ordering a sandwich is hard when you’re hangry. If you’re curious about our Scotts Bluff National Monument adventure, I direct you to click here, which is much better than reading this race report.

The start! I’m right… there!

Thankfully for forecasted high heat that never arrived, the race start was moved to 6:30am for both the 100 and 65 mile categories. This was challenging, as you really didn’t know what category people were in. The neutral rollout was shenanigans from law enforcement like always (I think the quote from the peloton was officially “15 mph my ass”), after a short bit of pavement we hit the gravel and racing was on. I managed to stay with the front group for about 8 miles or so (it’s all fuzzy now), before popping off. There was a consistent stream of people to regroup with, which was nice, but holy crap some people cannot handle a bike in a peloton, and this always just makes me much more stressed.

I ended up in a chasing group for the first 2.5 hours or so, fighting the high winds with ever rotating echelons and dodging snot blown on me by a woman who really had no concept of blowing her nose to ensure it didn’t blow onto everyone else. When we hit the pavement climb that eventually leads to the first aid station, I popped off as I absolutely hate climbing with surging. I climb by settling in and just climbing. I don’t do “100 watts to 400 watts to 120 watts to 350 watts to whatever” very well. I just ride the same pace. What this meant is I’d be preparing to ride the rest of the day by myself, but by then for some reason I was getting really grumpy and I just wanted to be by myself. Ugh.

For the first few hours it was easy to find a wind block (Photo by Tyler Whitworth)

Y’all, I do not like paying money to ride in wind, when I can do that for free from my house any day I wish. And Nebraska was bringing the wind. *insert Marge Simpson groan here because that’s the noise I make* I literally lost all desire to pedal. My legs felt fine, but mentally I was over it. When the brain fails, it makes it tough.

On the bright side, heading up Carter Canyon I passed a poor turtle in the middle of the road who appeared to be terrified of all the bikes zipping past, so I stopped and moved them into the marshy grass (and snapped a quick photo). Who cares about bike racing when there’s turtles to be rescued! This perked me up a bit mentally. Yay for turtles!

At the top of the pass it was really hard to not take the 65 mile route cut off. I debated the plausibly of whining my way into a distance change AFTER finishing the race, and realized I didn’t want to be *that* person and also reconciling the fact that if I finished the 100, I’d never have to do the damn course again. (In retrospect, I was ahead of the eventual winner of the 65 mile at this point, so nice to know I had a chance at winning the 65 if I wasn’t dumb and registered in the 100.)

After stopping at the aid station and trying to convince a teenage boy to finish out the race on my bike for me (it failed), I carried on in the wind and sand. Oh the sand. Tire eating baby powder bullsh!t of sand hell everywhere. Sigh. On the plus side, I’m ready to go for cyclocross season!

This descent would’ve been really fun if every corner wasn’t a sandtrap waiting to kill you (photo by Tyler Whitworth)
Uphill for miles into a headwind on pavement on knobby 38mm tires, my favorite thing ever! (That is sarcasm) (Photo by Tyler Whitworth)

Pedal pedal pedal, ever so softly. I wanted to beat 7 hours for this race, and every passing mile it seemed to be harder. After stopping at the final aid station, I felt a bit more perky, proving that my legs were quite fine. Then of course at mile 95 the horrendous foot pain commenced, so I undid my shoes and gritted through the pain. Finally the last climb – a short one up through the Scotts Bluff National Monument appeared. It was going well, and then my chain decided it was much better wedged between the baby ring and the bottom bracket. I finally had to throw my bike down in the weeds and finally got the chain to stay on a chain ring after three attempts. Are you freaking kidding me?!

Smiling because I only had a few more miles left! (Photo by Tyler Whitworth)

By then I figured 7 hours was shot, so I cruised down the descent and through the cemetery. Fitting way to end a race… through the cemetery. Because doing 100 mile races are kinda like death…

I enter the finishing shoot and wayyyy down it I see a timer clock and I noticed I had 20 seconds to beat 7 hours. Commence the 825 watt sprint (yay for finally have a power meter to document this stupidity I am able to accomplish at the end of races)…. hell yeah, take that, stupid wind and sand, I beat 7 hours!

9th Place overall, 5th place 30-39.

Back to car, scrub off top layer of Nebraska grit, find friends, drink beer. Tell everyone about rescuing a turtle and how that makes me the real winner.

So what lesson did I learn? Screw the snobby notion that the only “real” gravel racing that “counts” are the long courses. My niche, where I can still be competitive and have an ounce of fun at the same time, are 60-70 mile courses. Sure, it was an accomplishment to race/ride three- 100 mile races in a month. But overall it was not enjoyable, aside from CO2UT where I strangely enjoyed nearly all of it. I experimented, pushed myself more than I ever had before in 2021, but I’m done. Ima race the distance I feel is best for me, not what the snobby notion notates.

Usually I do a nutrition/stats run down, but it’s been a few weeks. But I took an SIS gel every 30 minutes starting at the one hour mark. I also ate an Uncrustable sometime in there. I ran pure water in my hydration pack, refilled. Two bottles with Nunn. Missing was Tailwind, as an experiment. I don’t think I really noticed it missing.

Will I be back? Well, of course, it’s only a 90 minute drive away! 🙂

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