Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Rolla, MO
Bikes: 2014 Giant defy advanced 0 with DI-2, 2013 Blue Triad TT Bike, 2015 Fuji Altamira CX 1.3 Gravel Bike
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RED DOG 100 Gravel Race
Just wanted to give a report on the red dog 100 Gravel race which I and another 100 folks did on saturday November 5. The weather was bit strange with starting temperatures (at 8:00 AM) about 44 degrees. Wasn't sure how to dress as I knew temperatures would be climbing, but forecast called for 47 at 9 AM, and 51, at 10:00 so it wasn't going to rise very fast. Ended up going with mid weight Bib tights with a light gore tex jacket over a short sleeve jersey, figuring i would be done about 11:30 AM. Time would prove me right on the clothes choice, as I was quite comfortable the entire race.
The Red Dog 100 gravel race is a 100+ mile venue North of Jefferson City, Missouri over Callaway County Gravel Roads. They also offer a little Pup Race of 50 Miles which is what I rode in. The 50 Miler had no categories, everybody raced against each other. The 100 mile race had 50+ masters, Women, single speed, and Tandem. My description will describe the 50 mile race. Before the race started I found some friends I planned on riding with, which included Tim Clair (my friend from KC area) and Jamie and Dennis Noel. All of these guys have very similar ability to me and figured we would be riding together. I also saw Mike Barrett from illinois, that i had rode the cuban gravel crisis with.
We started at red wheel bicycle shop and were guided across the Missouri river bridge and ramp with a neutral rollout for the first couple of miles, and then we were off on some flat missouri river bottom roads chip and seal for a couple of miles then gravel, but totally flat for the first 10 miles. I wanted to get out quick and up front with the faster guys because going across the bridge entails a narrow slick path and a series of circling ramps to climb up to the bridge. Its basically single file and being towards the end would have meant getting woefully far back to start.
I was at the back of the front group which had about 15 riders. It was a very fast pace right away as in 20 MPH fast on gravel bikes. I noticed Tim and I were the only guys from our group that were sucking wheel with this fast group. First it was rough pavement but then went to gravel and the pace stayed at 19MPH very consistently. This gravel was not the greatest, after doing this about 8 Miles I was beginning to wonder if I could hold this pace. Heart rate was climbing to 150+, but the draft I was getting from this group was great and really got us separated from the rest of the other 85 riders behind us. It was just TIM and I with these guys, and about the time I was fading, I would see tim pulling up so I kept on going hard. The we turned North out of the river bottom and got into a long steep pavement Hill, and instantly the front of this pack just took off. Neither Tim or I are great climbers, and these guys obviously were, so they instantly put a big lead on us up the first Hill.
As a side note all the racers took of together and there were about 50 (50 milers) and about 50 (100 milers) and it was unclear which riders were doing what race because we all road together until 20 miles in, where the two sets of racers went separate ways.
So Later we would find out that the entire group of front riders that were going so fast that we hung onto were all 100 mile riders and it had separated me and Tim a good distance ahead of all the other 50 Milers. I had looked at a profile of the race before we started and the course was most unusual in that the first 10 were flat, second 20 had all the hills (1750' of elevation) and the last 20 was flat. It definitely was in my mind to go hard on the flat sections (beginning and end)and survive the hilly section in the middle.
So Tim and I continued through the next 20 miles of hills. The pavement quickly ended and we were into gravel hills. And hills they were, in that there were several that were long and steep. I remember one in the middle that was so steep, i had to stand up (even on my 1X 44 front 36 rear combo). Stand up to pedal on steep gravel is a challenge, in that you have lean back or you spin out. So that is what I did stand and lean back. The extreme challenge of this hill was that it was also wash boarded which added some extra spin potential. Most of the gravel was pretty good with not too much rounded creek run (rough and loose) and most of the gravel has somewhat of a good line where it was packed and hard. A lot of the gravel on the flat sections did have a lot of pot holes that you had to watch very carefully, or they would swallow you up.
On most of the hills, I would get slightly ahead of Tim as I geuss I am a better climber, (although I am not that good). Tim would quickly catch me on the flats and when we would go down the hills together so we were a very good riding team. The course was marked fairly well with painted arrows at the turns, but some were pretty hard to read, and were just marked in one location at the intersections. If you missed the arrow, it was easy to miss the turn. Later we found out several people had missed turns at various locations and got lost on the course, Included my friends, Jamie & Dennis.
As we continued through the hills and got back on the river bottom flat gravel we still never saw anyone Behind or ahead of us, and we didn't know until later that all the guys in the front group were 100 milers. So we were thinking that we were probably leading but not entirely sure. We continued a strong pace on the flat gravel because we didn't want anyone to catch us from behind. When we reached to only aid station for the 50 mile ride at about mile 30, the guy was just setting up his trailer, but he wasn't close to having it ready so He offered us a beer, but we were both ok on liquids so we rode on, directions were confusing at this point with no markings, so he told us where to go and we were on our way. We did see Mike Barret at this location, which I knew was doing the 50 miler. But he was already there when we got there, which didn't make sense, because we never saw him go by us. (Later found out he had taken a wrong turn and short circuited some of the course).
Undeterred we road on, on the flat final 20 miles of gravel. Tim and I just took turns pulling, pushing as hard as we could. It is such and advantage to ride a gravel ride with someone. Pushing against gravel is very mentally and physically taxing as you never really get a break. There is always resistance, so it is a constant effort. The gravel is also rough so it pounds you physically over time. Having person with you just makes it so much better and you can push each other when you don't feel like pushing.
We got through all the gravel and we got back on the pavement again and were preparing to go back over the missouri river bridge, and the markings went away. Luckily I had done a katy Trail ride around this area with my wife one week earlier, and it came back to me as I rode a bit where i had to go. It probably cost us maybe two minutes of wasted time hunting for the right way to get to the bridge access. I guess we were leading the 3rd and fourth place finishers by at least that much as we still finished a couple minutes ahead of them. Once I saw the street with the Bike Sharrows I knew i had found my way and told Tim , "Follow ME", as I was now sure of our way to finish. We climbed the bridge and crossed over the river, and there was about a mile sprint to go through the finish line. I was there a couple of seconds ahead of Tim but looking back we really both should have got first place as I definitely wouldn't have done as well as I did without, Tim's help.
So We had to ask as we crossed the finish line are we first? And they said yes you are. What relief floods over you, as you just don't know till you hit the finish, that indeed you are on top. But I won, top dog for the 50 Miler
So, for gravel the course was pretty tame with just 20 miles of hills and 30 miles of flat mostly gravel. It definitely favored my fast FUJI Altamira CX bike which is light and has 32MM gravel kings which roll very fast on the flats sections.
I have enclosed some pictures of Tim & I on the podium and of the neat unique hat that they give to the top finishers. Average speed for the 48 mile course was 15.7MPH with 1755 feet of climbing.
Last edited by Jackmen; 11-08-16 at 08:35 PM.