Because of my schedule I can't do many cycling events. I had two planned for this year. The Colesburg Back 40, which would be a 45 mile race with about 4000 feet of climb. The second event was the Redfield Rock'N'Roll, which would be a 65 mile race with just under 4000 feet of climb. Both on gravel.
I showed up for the Colesburg race feeling good. That did not last long. It was 95 degrees when the race started. I knew I was in trouble when I started walking hills. I have completed this race four previous times, and despite these being the toughest hills that I have ever faced, I've never had to walk the hills. At 20 miles in, I stopped to help a rider in distress. After staying with her for 30 minutes, I started riding again. I did not feel good when I started but was hoping that I would snap out of it. About 5 miles later I had goose bumps and felt nauseous. When I pulled over to stop, both hands and forearms cramped so bad that I could not let go of the handlebars. Once my hands loosened up, I went to unclip from the pedals and both legs cramped. Barely managed to stay upright. At this point the temperature was 108. Called for a ride and DNF after 25 miles and just over 2000 ft of climb.
I was so disappointed in myself that I thought about hanging the bike up for a while. I know that through BaseCamp I have made a lot of progress. So two days later, I decided to jump into a gravel group ride. Although I hadn't ridden with this group for a year, I knew that they typically ride faster than me. I figured that I would just hang with them until I got dropped and then work my way back home. Not only did I not get dropped, I sat on the front for about 75% of the ride. This gave me a little more confidence for my next event.
The Redfield race started with a neutral rollout of about two miles. After the neutral rollout, I quickly dropped out of the front group, which included several cat 2 racers. Two other riders dropped in on my wheel. One of them said that if we could bridge up to two other riders that weren't far ahead of us, we would have a nice size group to work with. So I bridged the gap. Once we were all together, I just stayed on the front for about a mile. When I pulled out to let the next rider pull, the riders on his wheel dropped back, opening a gap. I jumped on to the lead rider's wheel, and the rest of the riders got back on my wheel. It was obvious that when we started hitting the punchy climbs, the lead rider was struggling. I went back to the front and tried just holding a steady pace. After about the third punchy climb, no one was on my wheel.
After a couple miles solo, a rider caught me from behind. He dropped in on my wheel, which was fine with me. I figured after he had a chance to recover we could work together. I started noticing that my bike did not feel right. Yep, front tire is completely flat. I stood on the side of the road changing my tube watching everyone else go by. This was only 13 miles into the race. I inspected the tire and could not determine the cause. I got back on my bike and started trying to pick off slower riders one at a time. Not going to blow myself up trying to get back to where I was. I still had over 50 miles to ride. At 40 miles in, I started feeling the twinges of cramps. I popped a Hammer Endurolyte Fizz in my mouth and sucked on it like a sweet tart. The twinges slowly went away.
At around mile 55, I noticed that my front tire was flat again. I hopped off of the bike and hit it with some co2. Five miles later it was completely flat again. I had no choice but to finish the last 5 miles on a flat tire. The ride finishes with a steep quarter mile gravel decent with two sweeping turns. One rider passed me on the decent, they were flying, I was creeping and praying that my tire would stay on the rim, and it did.
Thanks to BaseCamp, I increased my average power for this ride by 36 watts compared to last year!!