2018 Cascadia Super G

It looks so innocuous from here... 
It's been a while blog! Hi! Lots has been happening - training for Dirty Kanza, mountain bike racing, face surgery, a little bit of sickness, and this whole full-time job thing. But now that I'm moving out of mountain bike racing (race report to come on the BuDu Series, which ends April 15th), gravel season has opened and the real fun begins.

This past weekend, the gang and I did Cascadia Super G - a 54ish mile gravel race (yes, a real race!) with about 5400 feet of elevation gain in the mountains of Capitol Forest.  I had very low expectations for this race - it was the first time I entered anything with 'open' in it, seeing as this is my second year of racing and I still have much to learn. I also have been having mixed training for the past two months (life happens), and this was my first 'real' ride back from surgery (why do a normal ride when you can do a race? wheeeee). I just was pretty stoked to be on a bike and in the mountains again, and we won the weather lottery for this event!

Can you find a Lo at the start? One of the
only times I'm beating Maarten :'D
(photo cred: Machiko) 
Super G has a co-ed start, and I started with Daniel and Tom somewhere around 1/3 of the way into the pack. I glued myself to Sir Daniel Perry's wheel and set a micro goal - I was going to hold Dan's wheel as long as I could (within reason). Probably the most significant accomplishment of my day was comfortably-ish holding Dan's wheel for 5 miles before sliding off the back of the lead pack on the first paved climb. I found myself with Julie and a few others, who worked together until we hit the first real gravel climb.

This was a pretty big climb, with 1800 feet over 6-7 miles. Julie slipped away as I found myself chugging steadily along with my heart rate at 180+. I wish I was kidding, but it really did just hang out there in a terrifying way for the hour that climb took. At the top, I cruised past the aid station (Daniel Perry doesn't stop at aid stations, so he convinced me to try this strategy...) and unfortunately Dan with a flat :( and then hammered the descent. After months of mountain biking and hanging out with the master descenders Tom and Roger, I finally am starting to feel really good about descending (and it's fun now!). So I bombed down, catching the elusive Julie (ah, the other micro goal - catch Julie! It was a fleeting victory).

wow, I have no recollection of it looking this pretty (thanks Machiko!) 

The relief was temporary - we almost immediately began the second climb. I just ... didn't have it in me. This climb had steeper pitches (although shorter and not as much elevation gain). My heart rate this time around wouldn't go above 160 bpm, which is not a good sign; this means I'm beyond my endurance capability and basically have to stay in 'I could do this forever' pace. Not good. I lost so much time here, and Julie chipperly passed me early in the climb, never to be seen again.

There's me, losing the sprint finish by more
han a bike length... (thanks for the
photo Machiko!) 
Eventually all terrible things come to an end though, and the second descent was a piece of cake. From there, it was about 5 miles of pavement, which I found two delightful men to draft off of (thanks gentlemen!). When I recognized that we were close to the finish, I said "wait, this is the end! Guys we have to sprint!" The younger guy (also drafting) looked at me, his whole face lit up, "are we doing this?!" me: "of course!!" - we both take off, leaving the older man that we had just leeched off of for miles in the dust (I did not win the sprint, but it's the effort that counts).

Overall, I actually had a great finish for how terrible I felt. I finished 3rd overall for women at 3:56 and 2nd in Open (that's what you get Julie when you doubt yourself! 1st in a non-open category, haha). Tricia finished in the #1 spot, quite frankly destroying the rest of us (she made a 3 mile wrong turn and still won by a hefty margin on me; only 3ish minutes on Julie-I-eat-climbs-for-breakfast though). Jamie got 3rd in Open, so we had a really solid Egencia podium (join us Tricia!).

I hear the surroundings were beautiful and the aid stations were fantastic, but... I was in my own little pain cave the whole time. The gravel was loose and the predominant surface - I would only recommend 32+ mm tires for this race, preferably with some tread. I had my Schwalbe 38 mm G-Ones and can't imagine riding anything else. I had 2 water bottles and barely made it on those two without stopping and shoveled half a granola bar in my mouth at some point in the race (note to self: pre-open granola bars). My Rodeo Adventure Labs Flaanimal DK made the descents a piece of cake too (the slacked out geometry pays dividends).

Women's open podium woooooo! 
Lastly, there were a lot of other victories out of the gravel gang. This was Machiko and Michael's first gravel races, and Machiko came in with a time that if she had entered a competitive category, she would have come in 2nd (and she took pictures! what?!). Maarten got 3rd in Amateur men (nice!!). My DK comrade Chelsey came in 1st for Amateur women (right on girl!). There are more, but now I kind of feel like I'm reading off the results page... (here! )

Perhaps the best part of the day was hanging out in the sun after, eating chili, and spending time with friends. I mean, it wouldn't have been as much fun if we hadn't completely destroyed ourselves on bikes for hours first, but...

Amazing job to the race organizers! I'd do this event again (not anytime soon though... still hurting...)

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