My first Gravel Worlds was 2016, but you won’t find any pictures or even see me on the results page, although I collected all the pipe cleaners. Just nine months prior I had been cycling to a cross race and was run over from behind by a person driving a SUV. Among my injuries was a traumatic brain injury that affected my short-term memory. Although I was nearly completely recovered, the brain injury lingered. I normally always forget something on a ride and curiously wait to see what it is. This time I forgot my race number in the car so no official results. Guess I’m coming back in ’17!
Hurdle: In 2016, that power sucking wet gravel in the first section. Awful. In 2017, I had my stuff together and coming off a solid finish in the DK200, I was ready for Worlds. I even had my race number this year. But remember when I said I always forget something? This time I was about to Valparaiso when I reached to my back left pocket. I’m not sure why I checked then and not in the parking lot, but the pocket was empty. Half of my nutrition plan sat in the car where my race number was left the year prior. Well crap, I guess I’m refueling at gas stations. I was more bummed at the added stop time than fact I didn’t have my gear. No one gets upset at having to eat Casey’s all day.
Highest moment: Having my wife and sons meet me at the finish line. Last year they greeted me with a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. Best. Donuts. Ever.
Fav Story: I’ve ridden Worlds both times with one of my best friends. We’ll call him Daryl. Last year we agreed to not mess around and get the race done as fast as we can. Well, we stayed longer than planned in Roca, but whatever. A day on the bike beats about anything. Somewhere after that we got split up. He knew I was stopping at Casey’s so I figured he’d roll in anytime. As some other friends stopped in, I asked about him. They said, “He just rode by a few minutes ago.” I just got dropped at a gas station stop! I wasn’t gonna stand for that and Brad Oldfield and I rolled out. We buried the needle as much as you can after 120 miles, me pulling, Brad navigating. I had to take a chance on my sketchy navigation and pressed on alone sighting riders in the distance and picking them off one by one. Was that him? Nope. Now? Nope. I had nearly given up, but the race wasn’t over. Up on the next climb was a rider grinding it out and constantly looking over his shoulder. “Daaaarrrryyllll,” I called out. It was him. I reeled him in. As I rode up, I slapped him on the back and he snapped, “Don’t touch me.” He was cracked, a shell of a man at this point, but we’re friends, so I took the lead and pulled him in. Unfortunately, I also took him down a wrong turn and added four miles and some climbing. He reminds me often. Daryl is currently out crushing the Colorado Trail Race. He’s next level folks.
Finish: Finishing any bucket list race is a great feeling. I do what feels like a massive manual over the finish line, but it looks more like I’m pulling the front wheel over a pebble, whatever. Having my family see me finish is icing on the cake. Phrase: Fuller said it best, because it’s true. Gravel Worlds is the end of summer family reunion.