When was your first Gravel Worlds?
What was your biggest hurdle/most difficult challenge?
Knowing the nutritional needs of my body was one of the most difficult challenges for me over the course of the ride. Having to constantly remind myself to fuel and hydrate on the move takes more practice than I imagined.
What was your highest Gravel Worlds moment?
The ~151 mile ride had a lot to offer and I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment of it. Right from the start when we rolled out amidst mist-covered fields in the wee hours of the morning to my finish when the silhouettes of the windmills and barns against the rich, warm hues of the sunset made for dreamy sights, the day was full of incredible views of the Nebraskan landscape, some of which have been etched in my memory forever. As the riders spread out after the start, there were times when I was riding all by myself, feeling a bit dismal but all those feelings were eroded by the cheerful and infectious enthusiasm of the volunteers at the various checkpoints. It was incredible to see villages come together with such fervor to help the riders complete their personal challenges.
What is your favorite Gravel Worlds story?
Not having much experience with long endurance rides on hilly gravel, I miscalculated my nutritional needs and was cramping all over towards the end, quite literally squirming on the ground. After climbing one of the punchier hills towards the end, my legs gave out and I fell to the side of the road. As I lay there, trying to breathe as smoothly as possible for every breath would trigger another set of spasms in my tortured muscles, the grass on the roadside never felt so soft, the chirping of the crickets never so melodious, the breeze (by Nebraskan standards) on my face never so soothing. After what seemed like an eternity (it was more like 5 minutes in real time) and contemplating about all the decisions I had made in life, a bunch of fellow pirates came riding along, fed me some magical salt pills, helped me back on my bike and motivated/cheered me to finish the final leg of this beautiful ride and see it to completion. “What’s another 10 miles when you’ve been riding for 140 miles anyway?”; hard to counter that argument!
How did you feel when you finished?
It was an euphoric moment! The sight of the finish line, the energetic organisers eagerly waiting to partake in your celebration and fellow riders acknowledging each other’s struggles washed away the pain of the last 13 hours. I was exhausted yet invigorated, tired yet merry and triumphant yet grateful. And yeah, now I could carb-load without any guilt (for a little while anyway)!!
In one phrase, what is Gravel Worlds to you?
A communal experience that will make you hate yourself but one that’ll leave you immensely ecstatic in the end.