UNCLE JOHN'S DIRTY RIDE
I’ve always believed in the power of grit. That thing that can be transformational if you let it. Grit isn’t about natural ability or a developed talent. Grit combines a certain amount of desire with tough persistence and determination to guide you out of your comfort zone, push through hard stuff, and overcome challenges to achieve a goal.
Racing Michigan gravel takes some amount of grit and courage on my part. Training for gravel and participating in race events is a new and awesome experience that has aided my strength and endurance on the bike. I have a greater awareness and knowledge about hydration, nutrition, the necessity for hill repeat training and practicing on mixed terrain to improve balance and gain confidence on the bike. As a result, I’m an overall better cyclist.
Uncle John’s Dirty Ride on September 8th in St. John’s, Michigan, marked my fifth race of the season. Having successfully finished four hilly races this season, I was happily looking forward to a fast, flat, and short course. This race would give me a chance to catch and ride with a pack, something I have not experienced at MGRS due to my beginner skills. And, because Uncle John’s happens to take place at a family-owned 5th generation apple orchard, I looked forward to some award-winning blueberry apple cider at the finish.
So, I lined up at the start line a bit overconfident and mistakenly in too high a gear for the mass start. Realizing my worst nightmare (or anyone’s for that matter), I lost my balance on the grass and fell over before crossing the start line and my chain promptly popped off! Grit can be useful at times such as these, so I got up, put my chain back on, and rode off, jockeying for position and riding all out. With 200 racers in the short course, there were several packs still behind me and I caught the wheel of a passing pack. Given some luck and a bit of skill, I happily drafted and took my turn pulling for 24 miles all the while focusing on the wheel in front of me and realizing that all the preparation before this day prepared me for this moment.
The race was exhilarating, and I felt a sense of accomplishment—graduating to a new level of grit and gravel glory and 29th out of 43 gals in the short course. And, I achieved my season goal of crossing the finish line at five MGRS races this season.