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My Barry-Rube Report

My Barry-Rube Report

The old racer sat on the curb, legs splayed, right arm resting on the chubby medic's gloved palm as he rinsed gravel out of the old racer's elbow and hand. The old racer's face was recognizable, a face that exists in old photos of hobos or men standing next to penny farthings: "where was the tubular tire worn around the shoulders and why is he not sepia?" you would wonder except for the gaudy skin tight costume he was wearing, unzipped and shredded in places.

I was in a long line, in the upper third by my observation, slowly lumbering past, waiting to check my results. When it was my turn next, I realized I could've just checked for my placing online, with my phone, legs up, next to the pool back at the hotel and avoided this trope-a-dope procession.

The race was dusty and hot. Some kid, 19-24 years old, went 20 min faster than me for 36 miles. My 35mm file treads were nearly perfect for the terrain. I learned nothing.

~James Yoo

The Lowell 50

I opened my 2015 road/gravel campaign with the Lowell 50, which is dubbed a "Classic Gravel Road Race" by the promoters. It features smooth paved and unpaved roads, plenty of climbing, and small field sizes given that it follows on the coattails of Barry Roubaix by just a few weeks. I competed in the 34 mile race (they also offer a 57) and went in with the goal of finishing it in under 2:10. I smashed this and ended at 1:54:08, earning me 4th in my age group and an overall finish of 55 out of 264.

I lined up with the second wave at 10am, watching the competitors in the 57 mile race roll out with the blow of a whistle. I looked around and didn't recognize a single face. People seemed calm. I'm always a little nervous at the start of these things: will people hold their lines or chop wheels fighting for early position? Will things begin at tempo or with a violent CX type burst? It was a little of both. The event promoters tried to curtail the fast start that is common for gravel races by doing a neutral roll out to a covered bridge just at the bottom of a hill. However, nobody wants to just sit at the back of a field of almost three hundred riders and people were trying to move up. Two crashes before we even started racing had me a little worried. But we got through it, made it to the covered bridge, and we were off.

Folks didn't hesitate and we hit the gas as soon as the pace car dropped off. Up and down, up and down, something that I'm built for, but certainly not used to as a Chicago native. I had my goal and knew that I needed to average just under 17mph in order to hit it. I told myself going in that I wouldn't leap frog from group to group and try to move up. Of course, the racer in me wasn't content with sitting on an island or allowing other riders to blow by me. I ignored my MPH goal for now and stayed on the gas, keeping me closer to a 20mph average.

The up and down continued, along with the leap frogging and staying on the gas. The hills hurt, but I kept my rhythm. I tucked on the downhills and used them as an opportunity to recover.

I had my tire pressure dialed and I floated along those gravel roads in the brilliant Saturday morning sunshine. I felt very thankful for the day and the opportunity to race. At one point we passed a sheep dog, majestically standing atop a hill and keeping a watchful eye on all us racers.

Around mile twenty I settled in with a group of five or so riders and we took turns taking pulls. My legs hurt and I thought about sitting up a time or two. I looked down at my computer and saw that I was on track to smash my goal and stayed on it. This was a great lesson in the power of setting such things. Without it, I might have dropped off.

Things started to get chaotic around mile 30 as we caught groups and groups caught up with us. The fun thing about these types of races is that you have no idea who is and isn't in your age group so you end up just keeping an eye on everyone. Riders were taking up the entire road and trying to squeeze between one another. We bombed the downhills and I did my best to reel in anyone trying to escape, trading blows frequently with a rider on a white focus.

The pace really picked up as we approached mile 33. "We have to be close to the park" I told myself. Down and up, I saw a police office directing traffic and then I saw the sign letting us know we were close to the finish. I mustered up my final bits of strength and kicked hard. I dropped many of the folks from my group, except the guys on the tandem who were absolutely crushing it, and came flying across the line with cheers from my wife.

That was a fun sprint and I ended up beating the guy on the white focus by 2/10ths of a second, who happened to actually be in my age group.

Bill Guy

A Barry-Roubaix Flat How-to

Below is a summary of the flat clinic I held at the aid station during Barry-Roubaix 2015. Not an auspicious result for me, I suffered from a slow leak, tried to fix it once after Sager Rd. by topping it off with air and wishful thinking, tried again to fix it with a new tube at the aid station, and was still losing air through the finish. And I still haven't found the problem! Total time was 3:22 with moving time at 2:43 which I would have been happy with. Roads were absolutely gorgeous -- hands down the most painful fun I have ever had on gravel.


Yesterday, I led a flat clinic for three elderly gentlemen who didn't know how to fix a flat, but who were horrified at the thought of my having to fix it all by myself and without gloves in the freezing cold. Topics covered included:

1. How to retrieve tire levers as they go flying off your rim and spoke because your stupid Challenge tire is stuck so hard to your dumb A23 asymmetrical rear wheel and because a photographer with a tripod is taking pictures of your flat clinic and making you seriously self-conscious;
2. Why a Phillips head screwdriver is NOT a good idea even though I know y'all have been watching me try to pry this tire off for ten minutes now with these pathetic and unconvincing plastic tire levers;
(At this point, the gentlemen unanimously commandeered my wheel, but only after I convinced them not to use the screwdriver on it -- however, that wheel will never be true again so I'm not really sure why I cared so much other than the principle of it)
3. Why, yes, talcum powder IS a good idea and would have eliminated the herculean struggle we are all now engaged in as we wrestle the tube out of the tire it sealed itself to like a cat sticking to its crate at the vet;
4. Why it's NOT time efficient to take both beads off the rims (did I mention this wheel is asymmetrical?);
5. How to lay the tube into the tire flat even though the gentleman to the right of you is putting his part of the tube in upside down. And how upside down to you is right side up to him;
6. Alternative positions in which to change a flat other than four people standing in a circle holding up the wheel all together;
7. How to inflate a tire to 40psi by inflating it to at least 80psi a minimum of 5 times while one of us is yelling STOP! each time and feeling like a jerk for it.

Fixing my flat brought a whole community together. Afterwards, the gentlemen offered me water and a sandwich, we shook hands, and I finished my race. And now it is a beautiful memory.

Katie Casey

From Dust comes Gold

Someone had mentioned it earlier when we were getting our post ride grub on, but I I didn't pay much attention until arriving home and glancing in the mirror: a dirt mustache. I relished sweat rings on my kit...a badge of honor.

The Gravel Metric, our local darling gravel "ride", took place yesterday and is just what the name implies...a100km of (mostly) gravel. For those of you that can't do the math, that's 62 miles. 62 miles, no big whoop, right?!

Well, it is a whoop and here's why: gravel riding takes constant attention. Your mind is constantly working to pick the fastest/safest lines. The bike will float over gravel, if you let it, but it will also take you down if you jerk or over steer. As well, you typically don't carry the same momentum as pavement, so more push is needed.

The GM is notorious for some terrain mashup...from gravel to rutted out two tracks to a "starts fast then kills your soul" grassy stretch to more two track with a stream crossing...closed out with a seemingly merciful asphalt finish.  Ironic enough, that last section of smooth roads becomes "the Walking Dead". A trudge to the finish... broken spirits, beat into a mindless churn of pedals.

This years GM was quite fast and smooth, for the most part. A few teeth rattling ruts and some squirrelly gravel sections, but that was about it. Years past have been less kind with washouts, thick pasty mud, biblical rains, melt your brain heat. The heat did build up throughout the day and took its toll. Eternal gratitude to the residents that dragged out hoses and bottled waters.

A few notes about my ride: in the usual "get ahead of the fray" mindset, I tried to push somewhat hard to start. My legs and back moaned, setting off some alarms. I kept on for some miles, trying to stay with the mini packs and move up. I finally settled in with a foursome that were just right in the speed department. Soon after, my teammie, Jacob, appeared from ahead. He hooked on and declared "I'm working for you today, Groen". Knowing my back was acting up already, I was first tickled then terrified. I was stoked to have his giving wheel, but he's not a slow bloke by any means. What I later pieced together, he marked me to hold him accountable to a ride pace. He had gone gangbusters with the near front stampede. A mechanical caused him to pull over and not only was the bike adjusted, but his mentality. He decided that day was better served in push mode rather than bar room brawl.

He couldn't have been a kinder escort. Nothing but patience when I needed to stop and stretch. Relentless against the wind. Endless smiles and enthusiasm. He didn't let me slouch, but he also had an intuition about my limits. I nominate him "Sherpa of the Year"...and can't thank him enough.

The best part about these rides is the solidarity that occurs. Our rendition of "band of brothers". We all suffered together and came out the other end. We tell our tales of woe and glory at the finish. The insufferably slow grass, the windmills looking down on us with grandeur and smugness (I love wind), the incidental lemonade stand, the endless dust filling our eyes and lungs, the checkpoint high fives, the heat coming off the fields.  What a magnificent, albeit tough day.

With all that in mind, I give thanks to everyone who makes it happen and simply say... stay gold, Gravel Metric, stay gold.

--Jen Groen

Race Report: Barry-Roubaix 2014

Jacob Ortony at the start. Calm before the storm.

Jacob Ortony at the start. Calm before the storm.

By Jacob Ortony

The race was unbelievably painful for me. This was my first race with Half Acre, my first gravel race, and my first time combining a season opener with endurance racing. I was very well rested as my body has been recovering all winter from a nasty fall and hip injury.

With only two weeks of training for the race, I suffered for all the hours I didn't spend suffering; and as I was force-fed pain, these memories below are my pain foie gras. In the transition to fitness, my speeds usually drop while my body starts to adjust to the constant recovery of training. I was lucky that my speeds were relatively high, but I paid for the lack of preparation with epic unrelenting pain when my endurance ran out. My memories of race day seem like continuous disjointed fragments. There was the flash of morning and preparation drinking in the vast amounts of information of teammates going through various preparations, while running through my own thoughtlessly.

I ended up putting away a couple bowls of granola, a couple doughnut holes, a pint of beet juice, and 3 cups of coffee three hours before race time. I prepared 24 fl oz of fuel drink from 4 fl oz of agave nectar, two "5 hour energy drinks," and water. Reflecting on the horrendous taste, I kept one bottle filled with pure water as a chaser.

We arrived 20 minutes before the start and queued in the bullpen. I spent the time examining the racers around me and recognizing friendly faces (sensibly warming up) while I oscillated between worrying I was going to tip over from perched on my seat, dominoing a line of waiting racers, and searching out the strongest riders I have ridden with who give me a variety of inspiration. As the minutes dwindled in blinks, we were directed to the start area. Many more riders poured through gaps in the fences, warmed up and ready, as we packed into the crowd-contained column of street headed by a digital clock counting down the last 3 minutes. Here it was warm, and thousands of motivations affected sips of water, clicking, clacking, beeping, and deep breaths which were audible as the chatting quieted.

The start was dense! It seemed inevitable that crashes were impending as bars and wheels crossed, locked, and unlocked in the exponentially accelerating mass. With no easy transition, my thoughts quickly turned to pack tactics on an unknown road. The center line rule was out the window. There was never a time in the first 9 miles where only riding 2 abreast was a thought or concern (if it ever was). The column of cyclists distilled into fractions of varying fitness levels by flowing and catching on each other. My flow came in breaks up the left side trying to follow Paul-Brian who quickly disappeared. Being careful not to be caught in the left lane while representing Half Acre I made a surge for the front group. I jumped from group to group, looking for teammates to stay close to. I caught sight of Paul-Brian at the rear of the front pack, realizing that I was in the wind alone at an unsustainable pace. The fears hit me then; knowing I was not going to be able to keep this pace for minutes let alone 50 some miles. I dropped back with a sigh and a mental break to the second group just as we crested a hill and descended into new territory.

At 35 mph, the first of the pack hit deep mud, ruts and hiding holes. People slammed on their brakes and the pack reformed into lines following the deepest ruts. I chose a bad line and tried to hop across the ruts. As I hopped, my rear wheel caught the lip of the rut. As my weight came up and forward, my bike started to fishtail. I put a foot down and managed to stay up and steer to the road edge coming to a stop with a twinge of pain in my lower back. The second pack disappeared with me standing in 6-inch deep mud, wondering for a moment if I would kill my pedals if I tried to clip straight in. My Time ATACs gave me a little bit of happiness as I clipped in and seamlessly rode on.

Occasionally riders would pass in small groups, but for the most part I only had my hammering heart, pain pulsing up my back and the novel sound of my bike grinding gravel in every moving part. My mind broke with the pain of my back, and despair of being lost off the back with seemingly no-one behind me. I nearly lost to myself there nearly 9 miles into the race with 53 miles to go. Mike called out to me from a group zipping by, offering help, which I quickly declined. He looked like he had great rhythm and air enough to speak I wanted him to continue to enjoy it. Seeing him was enough to seed my second wind, though. I gained the resolve to fake a mechanical (concealing my weakness) and stretch my back while "examining my brakes." That 30-second stop was exactly what I needed. I decided the combination of the stresses of technical pack riding and inefficiencies of adapting to others' rhythms outweighed the benefits of aerodynamic efficiency at ~20mph.

I made a firm decision to make this my race and dropped into time trial mode. I regulated my breathing, worked on my form and technique. I stayed away from groups, passing quickly those I could and slowing to let others go ahead. The change in perspective changed the entire race for me. My warm muscles obeyed, my mind sang with endorphins, and I rapidly consumed miles for hours. I saw most of my teammates during this time. Ashley, Annette, and Mike. I was glad they saw me at my best. I danced up hills and even played with bunny hopping muddy craters with the freedom of not worrying about crashing anyone but myself. I did a lot of chatting as I passed people in their pain caves. Mostly 24-36 recreational riders, who smiled as I joked around with Thomas the Tank Engine quotes, and commiserating groans coupled with smiles. Some of the more serious riders looked a little grumpy and didn't respond to my friendly hellos. I caught up with Chernoh "The Train" Sesay and company from Johnny Sprockets. We passed each other back and forth until mile 44ish.

At the turn before mile 44, I crested a hill shortly before a turning point, which was signed by a mother and son. The son was playing with the sign throwing it up in the air spinning and catching it. When he saw me he was in the left lane holding the sign to go straight ahead. I zipped passed. Then, I noticed the mother running from her vehicle with a look of worry and frustration. I slowed down a bit, watching back for riders, nervous that I had been misdirected. As the volunteers shrunk in the distance I could just make riders turning left at the intersection. With a grumble, I turned back. Within a couple minutes I was back pointing the right direction with some sincere apologies given and accepted. I had a brief surge of energy to reclaim the time. I was flying past riders confused at my second passing and started to realize my impeding exhaustion. My shifting became clumsy and ill timed. When I hit the hills I would lose momentum and my legs seemed heavy and swollen. I switched my cyclocomputer away from the mileage as the constant calculation of time to go started to fray my resolve again. I kept looking for my next landmark which was the rejoining of the 62, 24, and 36 mile courses at the bottom of a steep hill into a right turn. I kept turning right at the bottom of fast descents, watching with extra caution for bicycle cross-traffic but the signs all were marked only for the killer course.

My overall average speed started to decline slowly from 17.5 to 17 mph. I calculated again and again that I would be done within the hour with a time of between 3 hours and 3:30, in the worst case that my overall average ended up being ~16mph. My math sucked. My speeds declined to 7 mph uphill, 19 in the flats.

With 8 miles to go, trundling along, I found some more motivation. One of my frequent commuting routes along the lakefront is about 8 miles along. I have ridden it many times in states of utter exhaustion at the end of very long rides. I just imagined that home was so close, I knew I could make it if I just gear it down and keep moving. It wasn't a race anymore. It was getting home. With 4 miles left to go I caught a single speed rider in agony. He was walking the hills and silent to my compliments of his singlespeed tenacity. He asked how long we had to go, and I told him that it was about 4 miles and that I had turned it into a commute to home which had a certainty of finishing soon. He told me that he couldn't often commute because his work was 20 miles away. I couldn't think of a response fast enough. After utilizing all of my gears and bombing down the next hill he disappeared.

With a couple miles to go I started passing cargo bikes with giant plastic bins strapped and racked on. I couldn't fathom what was going on and asked if there was a cargo category to enjoy their laughed reply. I saw the city limits sign and indulged in thinking about how wonderful it was that this was a small town. I would only be a mile or so away. I started pushing the pace. I passed the last group of cargo bike volunteers cleaning up trash and course debris. I asked one thick legged rider in florescent yellow if I could ride in his rack. He looked at me without a smile. I turned my attention to the hill and accelerated over the top. I entered the city on smooth pavement and pushed harder for my last show of strength at the finish line. Looking back I saw a lone rider a block back. I tucked down and hit the corners hard, yelling out for a hazard of pooled water at one of the last turns and then after a couple short corners I saw the finish line. The chasing rider had made up a lot of distance, and despite the scope of the race, I didn't want to lose a place with so little to go.

I gave it everything as an alien horrible sound broke out just behind me. I pulled to the left and was passed by the unsmiling volunteer with a rack half full of bouncing bottles and cans sprinting for the finish line. I shook my head in weary disapproval and bunny hopped over the finish line. After coming to a stop I looked around an recognized no one. I had no idea where I was, or where I should go. I had fantasized about collapsing into the waiting arms of my teammates, carried to the back seat of a warm car, and being given chocolate Ovaltine. Instead I was confused, wobbling along on the sideline wondering if I was going to fall over. I saw Lily Grumbles smiling and celebrating and I wobbled over to her. I don't even know what I said, but then I found myself looking at the grass and thinking I need to go lay down on that. I excused myself and wandered to the roadside and looked at the grass again. It was a mud pit splotchy with snow and grass and looked like a really bad idea. I started to wander towards the biggest crowd.

Realizing I was representing HAC, I put a hard game face on, straightened my kit slowly, and walked into the crowds. Warmth and sound grew and within minutes I had rested my bike against a barrier, hugged teammates, and was standing carefree next to the bonfire, steaming among warnings that it might be smoke drinking an Old Dirty Bastard and eating good warm food.

The post-race blended into evening and night with parties which has left me very impressed with my new team. I was totally wrong about my time, I had calculated it was going to be about 3:20:00 in the last 15 miles, but even two digit multiplication was beyond me then. I ended up finishing in 3:49 at 97th place. If I hadn't been misdirected I might have been able to ride it in with Chernoh from Johnny Sprockets, which would have been great. All of the other ifs and buts were fully in my control, and perhaps next year I can shave 45 minutes off my time and finish with the lead group... =) I also need to thank Chamois Buttr. While it might not be the intended effect, embro gave me something to focus on when things got fierce and allowed me to compete at a higher level despite the biting conditions. 

Leland: We Would Say 'Epic'

The Leland Kermesse was one of the hardest things i've ever done on a bike. there are two things that truly define the race: wind and gravel. both were in ample supply today.

the race was slated to be longer than last year's edition, with the Cat 4s doing 100km (approx 62 miles). last week's Hillsboro-Roubaix was the same distance, and i wasn't about to make the same mistake and not finish this one. all the preparation i made to do a very proper warm-up went to pot when we finally arrived, after a few detours. when we stepped out of the car, a cold northerly wind belted us into shivers. i registered as quickly as possible, got my bike set up and determined riding the trainer would have been far too uncomfortable. i spun up and down the roads leading into Leland for a while and lined up with the 4's sooner, rather than later. i had a decent spot behind Hemme and Ben. soon enough, we were off.

the course started off on some very fresh tarmac, some of the nicer surfaces i've ever been on. the wind came at the peloton from the side, and i thanked myself for choosing shallow-section rims for today. the deep carbon riders were waving side to side in the crosswinds, but everyone managed to stay upright if not quite in the right lane. i held ground in the top 1/3 of the field and filled as much space as i could, determined to not be on the wrong end of the accordion around the turns. we made a turn north and the pack buckled under the headwind to a crawl. i stayed in the field and did my best to keep my legs fresh for the inevitable attacks.

a few miles in, we took our first left turn onto the gravel. most of the transitional areas between gravel and pavement were extremely soft and deep, sending many of the first riders into disarray. an Iron Cycles rider lost his footing ahead of me and the field carved through the squishy gravel around him. as i passed, i suddenly saw, out of the corner of my eye, another rider heading nearly perpendicular to my direction. i tried to avoid him but we collided, sending me down across the gravel and into the grass shoulder opposite where i entered the road. another rider, with little steerage or brakes, crashed into my bike and into me, with one XXX rider attempting, but failing, a bunny hop over my body. i stood up, bruised, but surprisingly not broken. the Specialized Tricross i set up the week before was still in seemingly perfect shape so i picked myself up and kept going.

the rider who ran me over picked up and we worked a bit through the punishing wind and gravel, back onto pavement at the always-welcomed flag of the flemish lion and what seemed to be a nice respite ahead on a southbound turn onto more gravel. we cornered, and suddenly were at breakneck speed with the tailwind. we were behind the main field by no more than a half a mile. then, i glanced down at my stem and realized i didn't have my Garmin unit attached anymore. not wanting to sacrifice an expensive piece of equipment for a race i was unlikely to win, i turned and headed back to find it. i passed Joe from Super Ape, who had just flatted, and he informed me that the pit truck had seen it and picked it up. In turning around, i lost any hope of regaining the field! somewhat dejected but not willing to quit the race i headed back down the road.

i caught up with a few riders who had not hung on, and we worked a bit down the road into the second lap. through in the second lap, everyone dropped from us except Daryl from Cuttin Crew. we paired up and echeloned for quite a ways, picking up Ben VC, who struck a pothole and very nearly ruined his rear wheel. Ben eventually dropped on the mechanical, but Daryl and i kept it up, enjoying the ride and putting in the effort that the race deserved. the second lap fell, then on to the third, then onto the fourth lap. we exchanged electrolyte pills and what meager calories we had, and kept cranking.

the road was largely empty, save for some packs from other fields that had the benefit of more than just two people. we kept our distance, knowing that as long as we finished we'd be ahead of much of our race— if only because we finished. the war of attrition saw dozens of riders on the side of the road or dropping out. i needed to finish the race and do it as strong as possible. the old rally racing adage "Press On Regardless" kept turning over in my head. i kept my legs turning the pedals and after a while they were doing it on their own. i could feel them, but only in a detached sort of way.

after the most grueling gravel-into-headwind section on the fourth lap, we started catching more and more Cat 4 riders. up ahead were Jeremiah and Isaiah from Half Acre, Avi from Cuttin Crew and Lew from Rhythm Racing. we charged together into the southbound gravel. i could feel my legs ignoring the pain and some new life entered them, knowing that the end of the race was so close.

we turned left to head to the finish, and despite saying earlier that i didn't want to sprint, i asked our small group if they were in for a good finish after all, and we leaped to our feet. i took the sprint from Isaiah by a bike length and pantomimed a winning flourish across the line (to some jeers as well as cheers). i was spent, and was at odds between just crumpling into a ball of pain or spinning out as best i could. after a quick moon pie handup from Heenan (i think, i was dizzy), i fortunately decided to spin it out.

after that i collapsed. it was not only one of the hardest things i've ever done but one of the most awesome as well. i survived the war of attrition for 38th out of 95 starters. 28 out of those 95 didn't finish.

Flatlandia put together a race truly deserving of the word "epic" that i am sure to remember the rest of my days.

 -Chris Jensen

Announcing the NCC/HAC Gravel Metric

Mark your calendars for Sunday, May 30, 9am.  You won't want to miss this.

<a href="">North Central Cyclery</a> and Half Acre Cycling, the partnership that brings you the DeKalb 'cross race, is collaborating on something new-- something a little more classic.  This one promises 100km of gritty gravel with the kind of hills you'll only find in the exurbs and beyond.  No frills, no licenses, no points, just you, your bike, and 62 miles of gravel, self-supported, the way it used to be.

Details are forthcoming.  <a href="">RSVP on Facebook</a> and keep your eyes here for details.


Chillin' at Barry-Roubaix

Thirteen intrepid racers from Half Acre Cycling ventured out to Yankee Springs, Michigan this weekend for the 2nd staging of the Barry-Roubaix gravel road race. It was fun to have such a big presence of HAC riders there, especially considering some teammates had to get up by 3am to make it there (Tim wins the prize for commitment!) and others were coming off of 5 solid days of volunteering at the Gapers Block Crits (way to go, Erica!).

It was COLD at the start, so the fact the rolling mass start was on the slow side (over 400 riders), helped complete my warm-up. Ariel and I were riding the 35 mile race and caught attention from some other riders with our singing and laughing during the roll out, with one saying, “I wish I was having as much fun as you guys!”

I knew going into the race that there was going to be a lot of climbing, that it was mostly gravel and dirt roads, and that there was one section of loose, rocky, “true” off-road trail. I was surprised, though, to find that that loose n’ rocky section was only a couple miles into the race—and that it started with two fairly steep climbs! That section really separated out the pack, and ended with a heartbreaking series of fast flats that would dead-end into giant sandpits—the trick was to try to pass people in between the sandpits and then quickly move to the sides to avoid the sand. I did that well probably twice, and twice didn’t make it to the edge of the road in time and ended up getting stuck in the sand, getting passed by all the people I just cruised past. Oh well. My ‘cross bike handled pretty well in that section all in all, and that ended up being the only section where it would have been an advantage to have a mountain bike.

Other than that race progressed fairly uneventfully through lots (and lots, and lots, and lots) of rolling hills, fast gravelly corners (thanks to all the marshalls who did a great job directing us) and a couple killer climbs. I was riding in a loose group of folks most of the time—we were too spread out to really work together, but they were good company as we would pass and repass each other. I felt really good for most of the race (except for one nasty fall—shhh!) and though some of the climbing was hard, I could feel my hard work over the winter pay off. That was especially true at the end of the race when we got back on the pavement for the last 5 miles and I put it into the big ring and sped past a bunch of other folks who were tiring out. A big shout out to Kristen Meshberg and her Pedaling with a Purpose class—it really helped!

In the end, all the Half Acre riders finished strong, and we even ended up with three podiums: Jen Kick (her first ever race!), Sean Fitzpatrick, and Zach Thomas. Al Thom, Paul-Brian McInerney, Isaiah Jay, and Michael Hemme also placed near the top of their respective categories. The best part, though, was all the smiles on our faces when the race was over—to the person, everyone had a great time. We headed out en masse to Kalamazoo for some well deserved beer and burgers afterwards, where we dissected the race further and made plans for future adventures. We have a fantastic team of on and off-road riders this year…look out!


 -Jen Mosley