Steamboat Gravel Race Report - and a few lessons learned...
I had so much fun ‘racing’ at the inaugural Steamboat Gravel Race this August. You can see from the below that I wasn’t going so fast (or worried so much about my time) not to stop and chat up the Moots support crew at around mile 92 of the 100ish mile Blue Course that I wisely diverted to, instead of insisting I needed to finish 140 miles, which would include 4,000 extra feet of climbing.
If you’ve read my other adventure reports from this summer I have had a lot of fun riding a lot all over Colorado, but mostly in Steamboat. I was so nervous about this race that I did a Ramble Ride in July as a training camp. Let me just say that the race was so much easier than the Ramble Ride! But I’ll back up and describe a bit more about the weekend, my totally sick loaner bike from my pals at Moots, and the race.
We drove up to Steamboat Friday morning and opened up our VERY small one bedroom (without even a bedroom door!) that we had invited my parents to. OOPS I really should read more carefully. But in spite of, or maybe because of, the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory vibes, it was super fun! We headed out for an easy ride after I took our dog Sophie for a hike. Definitely what one should do when resting up for a big race… but she loved it!
Saturday we woke up, had an awesome breakfast with my parents, and took Sophie for another hike. After Sophie was worn out we headed to the expo. This was fairly standard, but well done for a first year event. One of the most fun experiences was running into friends from New York, Denver, and other places. Being cyclists for over 10 years will ensure you meet a lot of people, and being nice will ensure that they’re happy to see you! We also got to have a chat with the Moots team at their tent. Sophie enjoyed seeing the bikes.
Following the expo, we had a bit of a rest and headed to Moots to pick up our beautiful demo bikes, see the factory, and ride a bit of the course with a group of Moots owners. Moots is very cool to see in person, and the bikes are amazing. It is obviously not a wonderful idea to use a demo bike for the first time for a 100+ mile race, but no one ever said I’m a genius. I do have to say that I’ve never been a gearhead - but the Moots bike was amazing to ride. For gravel especially, the titanium material makes the bike so smooth and just rolls over all the rough parts of the road. I felt a very noticeable difference in the ride quality and the amount of momentum I was able to take on the gravel roads.
After the ride and the tour, we headed back to the tiny condo for dinner and an early bedtime. The race started at 6:30 am on Sunday, so we wanted to make sure to get some rest after a busy pre-race day.
Sunday morning started off chilly, with temperatures in the low 40’s. This created a bit of a dressing conundrum - highs would be in the 80’s, and no one wants to carry tons of clothes for 100 miles. I decided to start in arm warmers and a rain jacket, which is smart to carry anyway because you never know in the high country. I was freezing! But within an hour or two I felt fine. The start was honestly a bit of a mess. It was neutral for maybe a mile and felt crowded. I just tried to stay with Rod and not blow myself up or crash…. insert foreboding music here…
One thing I will say is that knowing the course was extremely helpful. I knew when the road was rough, when it was really narrow, etc. Groups would form and then blow up. People were going fast - I was feeling great and averaging over 16 MPH which was way faster than I had anticipated - and I was getting passed. But I just rode within myself, tried to look around and enjoy the scenery, and chatted here and there with some people I met. I stopped at almost every aid station, asked volunteers to put sunscreen on me, which they did because they’re wonderful, and slammed chocolate gu’s with caffeine. These were lifesavers. I drafted whenever I could to conserve energy. It was so much fun, and I loved every minute.
The Moots team was stationed just past the only ‘technical’ section of the course, which I wouldn’t really call technical, but it was a rocky descent where one could certainly run into trouble. I stopped to have a chat with them and thank them again for letting me use their awesome bike.
When I came back into Steamboat, I was still totally energized. I had been riding along with a few guys in the last few miles who were going SUPER fast. I did my best to stay with them and get a little more energy savings in the last miles. Coming into the finish, I didn’t sprint but I did pick things up. After crossing the finish line, I hit the timing mat bump and went flying. This was so annoying and such a stupid, crappy way to finish! Even with that little interlude, I had such a great time. We loved it so much that we have already booked accommodations for next year, when we will hopefully race on our own cool Moots bikes.
*** some photos credit Moots ***