In February ALP Coach, Alison Powers, disclosed that she had signed up for a bike race-Steamboat Gravel (SBT GRVL), a 141 mile race with 100 miles on dirt/gravel roads. Now, 4 weeks out from race day, she thought it would be fun and interesting to blog every day leading up to the race. She’ll blog about the specifics of her training, her preparation, head space, etc. All the things that lead up to race day that not everyone gets to see or understand.

On Saturday, while riding the flats around Avon with ALP Cycles Racing, it dawned on me that I hadn’t been doing any training on the flats. Most of my bigger rides have involved big climbs and big descents. While SBTGRVL will be my longest race (and one day ride), in terms of elevation gain, it will be one of the easiest. With “only” 9,000ft of climbing it is less than; Leadville 100, CB 100, Golden Granfondo, and 24hrs of Steamboat, all events I have done that are shorter, but involved big climbs with big descent (i.e. coasting). I figured I’d better get used to doing a little more pedaling and harder efforts on the flats.

First, I picked up my bike from Tin Shed Sports with my new race tires on. I was excited to ride it and test out my new tires. As for tires for race day, if you ask 5 different people what tires they suggest, you’ll get 5 different answers. So, I went with tires suggested by a trusted source who knows my goals, knows Colorado dirt/gravel roads, and knows how I ride. He suggested the Specialized Sawtooth tires, size 38.

My bike is dialed

My bike is dialed

Above is my race bike. It’s actually my CX bike turned temporary Gravel bike. It’s been a little bit annoying to invest money into this bike to make it more gravel race friendly, but I am enjoying it. The modifications I have made include-

  • putting on a 10/42 cassette and a 42t chain ring. I am enjoying the easier gears on the climbs. I get spun out at 39mph, which is a little worrisome, but oh well.

  • New bottle cage with swat multi tool

  • new tires

  • road pedals and road bike fit

  • the frame bag may or may not be part of the race. I’m still figuring out my hydration needs with the aid stations and temperature on race day.

28 days to go- Monday July 22nd

I filled my bottles (2 with NBS Hydration, 1 water), did my dynamic stretching/mobility/activation, prepared my food (PBJ, choco chip cookies), and took 4 grams BCAA’s. Side tangent; I’m a big fan of Stacy Sims. I like her research, I like her book “Roar”, I like her presentations, I like her suggestions. I feel better when I do what she suggests. My biggest pet peeve with coaching- both with ski racing and bike racing- is when athletes don’t apply new knowledge. When you learn something from your coach, a book, or a lesson learned while training or racing, take that new knowledge and apply it. If you just go through the motions of learning new things but never actually apply the new knowledge then you’ll never get better. You must be willing to try new things and let go of old habits in order to get better. Tangent over.

Today’s ride goal was 2 intervals to the Portal (the flattest road around here). The goal was steady/hardish riding. I wanted the second interval to be just as fast or faster than the first interval. Each interval was ~28min and the second was far more uncomfortable than the first (a sign that this was good training for my body). My bike and tires felt amazing! It felt very much like I was riding my road bike (which has been the goal) and I felt fast (yay tail wind). Unfortunately, my chain came off during the second interval, something that has never happened on this bike before, so that will need to be dealt with. My low back and left hip were also starting to be annoying (that went away the last 45min of the ride).

I finished with one more harder effort on a climb (~5min) and then just rode steady home.

3 hours with steady/hard riding on a pedal-y route and my legs and body were tired on the climb home. I drank all 3 bottles (could have used more) and ate both cookies (which melted in my pocket so they won’t work on race day), and my PBJ. I drank a NBS protein Recovery shake once I was home.

It was a good day.

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