Race Cascadia SuperG Recap

The team headed up to Olympia to start the gravel season with the Race Cascadia Super G event. This event is in its 3rd year and has been on the team radar as a great one to get into the season before the epic Gorge Grinder the following weekend. The only issue was the race coincided with Zone5Promotions Piece of Cake Road race. Unfortunately, we couldn’t have our cake and eat it to.

5:15am Opting for gravel, the team loaded the van and headed up to Olympia, WA early Saturday morning to what looked like a tough, tough, race with lots of climbing. It was a crispy 34F on our way up and we passed thoughts on kit around before all deciding base layer, arm warmers, and Pactimo Storm+ kit would be enough. To keep our minds occupied we threw a podcast on and listened to race recap of E3 and made our own plans for classics glory to unfold in a few hours time.

Our team of 5 consisted of one 70mi’er and four 50mi’ers. When we arrived the fog was lifting and the frost melting. It felt surprisingly warm.

8:30am The team assembled at the start area with the other 295 people who paid money to go up steep climbs and fast descents as fast as they can on gravel. We overheard discussion about snow falling two years ago, fairly epic race conditions. Someone remarked that there might be some hike-a-bike sections but we didn’t believe it. With the course topping out at only around 2800ft and the recent warm weather, it seemed unlikely.

At 845am the 70mi group went off and Brad was in it.

Full write up here

Towards the top I could feel myself going too deep so I let off just slightly and dropped off the wheels of Rob, a guy named Stephen Mull and a Canadian named Parker Bloom.

Tight pace lines, hopping pot holes, trying our best to float over chunky sections.  I felt in control… but just barely and had to remind myself you can’t finish a bike race with broken bones. 

Nobody needs water or food already surely.   Mechanicals!

Stephen, Parker, Erik, plus 3, plus me… 7.  Where’s Rob? 

Then we started the B-1000 climb.  My goodness.  We all rode together the first mile or two but I had no choice to back off and stay within myself.  Still 25 miles from finish, can’t bonk…yet.

I keep pace high but take the final turn onto the grass too wide!  He comes by and we drag race to the finish.  

-Brad Petersen 70mi Pro Division

At 8:50am the 50mi group rolled out. Michael recounts his race…

Full Write-up Here

Nervous start-line chatter leads to sizing up the competition.  Teammates snapping last minute photos reminds me that this is FUN, why so SERIOUS.

My plan going into the race was to stick with the leaders as long as possible, focus on hydration/nutrition, try not to flat or crash, and enjoy some incredible scenery along the way.  It was mission mostly accomplished across the board (minus the crashing part).

…put my head down and go as hard as I can for the next 2.5 hrs.

Something changes when no one is there to help you trade pulls, encourage you or offer you a gel or swig of water.  BELIEF.  I remind myself that I am strong, have trained for this, and can do it.

The next climb hits me hard.  7.5 mile Cat 2.  2,044 vertical feet at an average of 5% and pitches of 15%.  This one hurts. Bad.  I go deep..

My lead is short-lived as I hit an off-camber left-hander with a snow drift that sends me into a tumbling, cramping heap.  

-Michael Aylward 50mi Master 30-39 Division

Made possible by our Sponsors

Detailed Results


Oregon Triple Crown Gravel Epic Download

Oregon Triple Crown Gravel Epic Flyer

Up until last year, people referred to the Oregon Triple Crown’s Gravel Epic ride as the “blood road” as only the Ho-Chi-Min-Trail could compare to as many man eating craters. This year was different.
Pam Power, Brian Hunter and I sat on the start line, the weather was a perfect 50 degrees without any wind and pure sun. One person said, “I really feel sick to my stomach” in anticipating the ride. “That’s a good omen” I said, “Worry if you don’t have any anxiety or nausea”.

Mike Ripley gave his normal speech and we thanked all of the volunteers. “This year, 90% of the potholes are gone”. People thought he was joking, it would take thousands of hours to fill all of those craters. But magically, he was right—they were fixed and it was a very, very fast course.Bonk Collective Gravel Epic Start Line

This year I’ll be 50 and I have no illusions. I will never be among the top three racers after three grueling races (okay, I was 3rd overall 2 years ago, but I’m older now) Everyone needs a carrot, and/or a time to beat. So, I came up with mine: His name is Mr X. (Scott Carroll)

In every long grave/road race, the chaff and the wheat separate 75% of the way through, like riders find themselves riding together. This was the case for Mr X who beat me handily last year due to an 20% grade with baby-heads and my poor choice of gearing. For the past 3 years we somehow filtered out to riding beside each other at the end of long races.  Mr X is a Zwifter and I’ve studied his power online. Thanks to social media, I know what he does, where he lives, how many kids he has and what his favorite flavor of ice cream is. To him, Zwift rides are equivalent to the real racing world. Whenever he places well in a Zwift race, he takes a photo of the leader-boards as a kind of bragging rights ego-feeder and puts it on Strava.  I knew his FTP, down to the digit. I knew he had poor form—non-aero due to hours of riding upright with no incentive to be aero. I knew how long he could hold his top power before fading. In the back of my mind, I didn’t truly think I’d see him out there, he just became a figment of motivation. Everything I wasn’t—A good descender, high power, huge ego.

Oregon Triple Crown Gravel Epic

At mile 46, exactly 75% of the way through the race, Mr X appeared like a gorilla in the mist. There were 3 riders in our pod and he happily blended with us for an aero advantage. “He y’all, lets work together” he said happily and we all dropped like stones onto the deciding…….Smith river road.

It was here that I studied his form, his breathing, how much fluid was in his water bottles, and where his threshold was based on mine. There was one climb left after the last aid station and now was the time to make my move. Gently at first, I took longer pulls at the top of rises, just starting to gradually take his edge off. One of the other riders was clearly a good climber and on one rise, we dropped him for a minute.
(I pack a piece of duct tape in my jersey because 80% through each epic ride I get too chatty and would be much better off keeping my mouth shut instead of socializing.)

Before I knew it I said, “Hey, my name is Dan, what’s yours?” He looked at me, “I’m Ben, a School Counselor from Salem, nice to meet you. “Hey Ben, listen to me carefully” I said, “we have one chance”. He looked at me and nodded.

The podium has been been established by the 8 riders in front of us, we’re going for the age group podium and since you’re half my age, I think we can work together. “Sounds good” he said. I continued, “That guy back there is Mr X, his FTP is 320 and he descends like a stone, we have one chance so listen to me carefully” He nodded and said, “What is an FTP?” I said, it just means he’s got gorilla legs that can rip ours off, he’s a Zwifter and his hour of power is nearly over.

This is how is going to work, I said. Just after the last aid station, there’s one big climb left. We need to hit that climb like we’ve never climbed before. If he’s with us at the top, he’ll win. Other riders from the smaller ride will be blending in and slowing traffic.

You are a goat, Ben. I need to you give it everything you’ve got and if you distance me don’t look back. “Sounds good” he said, “But I have one problem—I’m out of water, I need to stop at the last aid station”. Bullshit, I said. I’ve only emptied one of three water bottles and have two left. Take my full water bottle, it has 500mg of sodium and 240 calories of chocolate heaven. Here’s a picky Bar….. Every second counts, don’t stop at the last aid station, it will give him the advantage.
So, we exchanged bottles and he looked at me like I was a millionaire who was giving him my last dollar. The climb began and we took off like birds. Suddenly, he let out a screech and I knew what it was, his legs were seizing up. I offered to stop and help if I could but he told me to keep my advantage and “Climb like you’ve never climbed before” So, I did. It put around 11 minutes on Mr X when it was all said and done.

Back at the finish, we did a cheers with our Podium glasses, he thanked me again and promised to keep in touch.

It was a good day for the Bonk Collective with three out of three podiums!

*Photos borrowed from BikePortland’s Ride Recap, read theirs here.


High Desert Gravel Grind Recap

We’ve been so busy that we neglected to recap the High Desert Gravel Grind so here’s a belated post about it.


Brad and Travis got up at 430am to head over to Tumalo for the HDGG.  The day actually started with Travis driving halfway towards Brads house and running into him coming his way on his bike.  We got a kick out of our 5am communications.  It was funny.  Nevertheless, we loaded the bike and gear and headed out.

The trip over was uneventful other than there was snow, yet again as we crested santiam summit.  The duo debated their kit choice to no end.  Brad was fairly confident he would just wear his cold weather bibs, sans knee warmers + arm warmers while Travis was left thinking he’d just freeze until it got warm.  A beet scramble was eaten 3 hrs out from race time…it wasn’t too bad but was a bold move from the typical oatmeal and honey with eggs that Travis typically eats before long days in the saddle.  Nothing like mixing the diet up before a 6 hour race!

They arrived on time, checked in and started race prep.  Number pinning, bathroom, kit donning, bike setup, bathroom again.  Spin, brrrrr, bathroom and then to the start.  They made an effort to get to the front at the start this time and it paid off with us standing amongst the other fast dudes 2nd or 3rd wave from front.

Bonk at the front


Neutral rollout was faster than anticipated and the race was on.  I won’t bore you with the entire race but some highlights.


  • Kesselman got unlucky and took a big gash on his tire and flatted.


  • Crash at the dam, less than 5 miles into the race.  Travis got caught up on it as he was on the right side heading into the dam section.


Dirt Naps

  • Brad was unscathed and ended up on the crazy double-track with the lead group.  While Travis was stuck working his way through people, with the leaders out of site.


  • First climb was long but Brad hung in while Travis went back and forth with a group that formed around him. 3rd group on road?


  • In typical fashion, Travis’ power meter was giving funky readings but he was pretty sure he was NOT doing 340NP for the first hour.  In fact the first few hours were so hard that he considered taking the short route at mile 40.


  • Short route actually ended up being more like mile 32, and neither Brad or Travis took it.  Brad remained at the front with the thinning group.


  • Another few climbs and a super chunky descent had Brad worried about his tire selection but he remained fairly close to the front of the race.

Epic Scenery on Chunky Gravel Descent

  • Travis is caught on descent by Wade Goff and holds his wheel up hwy 242 ascent but Wade chooses to bypass the aid station and Travis never sees him again.


  • The loop out and back to Black Butte is a horrible time.  The sand saps all the strength from the legs.


  • Brad settles in with two others and is racing for 3rd in the final hour while Travis consolidates his position against people arriving at aid stations when he leaves.


  • Rough descent ejects both of Travis’ bottles but he’s not caught.


  • Brad tips off his competitors of the early finish (IE, not at mile 90 like we all thought) but then gets out sprinted for 3rd.  He finishes 4th in men 18-39, about 18 minutes off the leader, Matt Lieto who finished in 4:52.


  • Travis caught a few masters in the last hour to the finish, and crossed the line 5th in men 18-39, 48min back from Lieto.  “It was hard”.


All in all, it was a great day for the Bonk Collective.  18 min back from the leader and mere seconds from a podium spot is a great day for Brad and neither of them suffered mechanicals on their journey over 90 of the roughest miles they’ve ever endured.  This was a seriously epic ride that will surely become a fixture in the early northwest gravel race calendar.  In 2017 the race contained a lot of roads, while this year 90% of the race was over gravel!


Congrats to the team for a great day of racing.

Solo riding to finish

All pics courtesy of Adam Lapeirre / Oregon Gravel Grind  See them all here!

Strava Upload

Bust Your Butte Gravel Race Races

No, Bust Your Butte, Gravel Race

Monday duldrums am I right?  The 2018 Oregon Bike Racing season is in full effect, and spring has finally decided to grace us with her presence, so it is a grand time!  I won’t bore you with too many words, but I, Pam Power, had to do a quick recap of the inaugural Bust Your Butte Gravel race in south east Bend.  This race was put on by TFG Racing and Mathew Lasala of Lasala Images fame.

I was stoked about this race because being located in Bend, the elevation climbed during the race was minimal, only 2100′ give or take.  As someone who lives in the Portland area, my baseline for elevation is 0′ – 100′.  I can go and do endurance zone rides till the cows come home, but racing, with climbing against people who live at the base altitude of 4600′, that always makes things a little nerve racking.  So to only have to climb 2000′ or so, sweet!

When I checked the list of registrations on Wednesday there were only six women registered for the event period.  Wowsers, chances are good!  I had already decided I would do the short course option, 53 miles, versus the 81 miles, because well elevation.  It was super tempting to do the long course though because the winner in the open category would get a brand new Orbea gravel bike!  Also I had to drive back to Portland so I needed to not be completely shattered.  Did I mention that I did this as a day trip?

In the end there were 15 women who ended up competing in Bust Your Butte across all categories.  There was the Open Long Course, Masters 40+ Long Course, Open Short Course & Masters 40+ short course.  I heard Matt say he had about 100 people show up.  I think this is great for a first year event, the Gorge Gravel Grinder, part of the Oregon Gravel Grind Series only had 37 women and they had three course lengths.  Nice job TFG!

Oh and a big shout out to our coffee provider, Dapper & Wise.  I did this trip as a day trip.  So at 4:30am I powered down one cup of coffee while I ate some breakfast and took two travel mugs with me.  Going Highway 20 at that early morning, I wanted to ensure I was wide awake.  Did you know we sell Dapper & Wise coffee?  Well we do!  It is how we fund raise for our team to help cover gas expenditures, food and other costs that are incurred by the team.  Check out our store here and we can even deliver your coffee to you via bike.

The start of the race was out at Horse Tooth Trailhead, super cool spot I had never been to, which is odd considering how often we are in Central Oregon.  Driving up in our team van was so much fun, because well at least 1/3 of the people there had camping vans!  If you hadn’t gotten the memo that camping vans are the big thing with cyclists, now you know.  AND I met the woman who drove from Bend to Hillsboro to buy the EXACT SAME VAN that our family had bought a week before.  D’Angelo Auto Sales, you are now the Ford Transit broker to some awesome cyclists!  And Stephanie it was so great to meet you.  Next time I am in Bend we will have to hit up the trails.

The race was just like any other race, people rode their bikes, had a bunch of fun, got some flats and finished.  The course is better explained via pictures.  The gravel was seriously some of the best gravel I have ridden and made me so excited to ride and race more of it.  Here are some pictures so you can see what I mean.  And Poop Pillow Prem’s, awesome.  The deal was you grab one and have to carry it the whole rest of the way and you got $50, sweet!

All Images BelowProperty of Lasala Images

Bust Your Butte Long Course Women's Winner Ryan Leverling
Bust Your Butte Long Course Women’s Winner Ryan Leverling

Carrie Carney Winner Hutch's Bend
Carrie Carney Winner Bust Your Butte Master’s Short Course

Bust Your Butte Gravel Race Sister's Mountains View
Bust Your Butte Gravel Race Sister’s Mountains View

Bust Your Butte Gravel Race Bust Your Butte Gravel Race




Bust Your Butte Gravel Race Sand Finish











The end of the race was your typical hang out, commiserate about the red sand “gravel” from H-E-Double Hockey Sticks, smile about how great the rest of the course was and how you can’t wait to do it again.  Grilled sandwiches were provided, beer from Deschutes Brewery BUT I was definitely missing my Xylem Cider!  Nick, you are getting a full write up AND we need more for this coming weekend.  🙂  I am not a huge beer person so I wished I could have opened up my growler from my fav local cidery which wait for quite a long time for my podium.  Oh, did I forget to mention I won the Short Course Women’s Open Category???  I did!  I was able to bring home Bonk Collective’s first podium, though it definitely won’t be our last, for the year.

Best of Both RegistrationAfter I collected my pictures on the podium and the schwag I headed over to Project Bike for the Best of Both Race registration event.  Dominic and his team have done a kick A job with promoting this event and getting everyone excited for it.  I mean is it June yet?  I was able to meet Dom, who is all over social media.  I dare you to tag or hashtag #bestofbothrace and see how fast it takes him to like or respond, it is crazyness!?!?  Don’t you sleep Dom?  I also got to chat and share a drink with the nicest recovering triathalete, Matt Lieto.  Which I totally awkwardly fan girled, because well any pro athlete will do that to me.  The drive, ambition, talent, work ethic, what isn’t to just find amazing?  And hey you want to coach me now???  I seriously could have sat there and talked all night to those two and hope to chat with them more sometime.  Seriously Dom next time in Bend I want to take you to coffee.  And if you haven’t heard of the race yet, go over check it out and even register!  The more the merrier!

Bust Your Butte Short Course Open Winner

Now a significant amount of money in race registrations later, some cool winner schwag heavier and super tired, I started the drive home.  I wished I had more coffee, that I had packed more food for the drive home, but I knew that would make me drive that much faster.  I had left Portland just shy of 5:30am and I rolled into our driveway at 9:30pm.  My legs felt good, my head was exploding due to a migraine from just the length and efforts of the day, and I said hi to my husband and rolled into bed.  I was done…all done.

I never saw myself as a huge racer but after a super fun cross season last year and consistent training over the winter, this is fun.  Man this is fun.

Thanks again TFG Racing, Dom with Best of Both Races and all the racers for such an awesome day.  Totally worth the seven hour drive.



Race Recap: Gorge Gravel Grind

The Dalles, Oregon. 9am.  Sunday April 8th 2018.


  • Brad Petersen Super Grinder – 105 miles.
  • Travis Power Big Grinder – 74 miles.
  • Dan Handorff Big Grinder – 74 miles.


We drove through an hour and a half of absolute demoralizing downpour to arrive in The Dalles, Oregon with nothing but a few drops of rain from partly cloudy skies.  The neutral roll-out over wet pavement threw up a considerable amount of rooster tails and everyone in the pack bartered GU shots for wheels behind those few with full fenders mounted.  Of the three of us, Brad took the lead, sliding through the pack like a wet fish in the hands of a toddler, wanting to be close to the front when all hell broke loose.  I followed, doing my best to avoid the taste of the road in my mouth and thinking to myself, “5 minutes in and my kit is already dirty”.  I looked down…no power numbers to my new wahoo bolt.  Sigh, so much for pacing myself on power.


We hit the first climb at mile 5 and it quickly became apparent who was racing and who was there for the aid stations, scenery, and camaraderie of others.  I survived the 3 mile ordeal and Brad found me a bit later after the first decent was like, “have you been here the whole time”?  Yeah man, I’m sneaky like that!  Kesselman was off the front already though!


The second gravel descent brought the first crash.  Dude got a bit too far into a power slide and flipped his bike in the corner.  We all kind of got hung up there though and it was a gentle reminder that gravel can be tricky.  John Whethers had an early rear wheel flat!  Suck! Brad and I kept at the front as the road pitched back up again 16mi into the race.  At the end of the climb 2 mi later I had trailed off the front group and gaps formed on the downhill.  The guys I were with just were not able to close them and so we hit the main climb at mile 19, apart from each other.  I asked the guy next to me, “Are we finally on the long climb”?  “I don’t think so, it starts at 20 and I only got 19”, he replied.  Well…that’s unfortunate because that was already the hardest hour I had spent on a bike since cross season!


At the front, Brad got to experience the Decker Pain Train as Carl Decker (Giant factory racing) rolls to the front and kicks it up a notch.  Brad hung tough, doing 375W over 20 minutes but the leaders, sans Kesselman, all got strung out.  Just as things began to reach their breaking point, Matt, Brig and Carl stopped at the aid station for some refreshments.  Brad caught up, and passed them, successfully closing that gap!  I was a bit back back at this point, clearly not experiencing the NOX boosting effects of the celery I at that morning and I look over and who’s there but John Whethers.  Dude patched his flat and came back so fast!


Soon it all came back together more or less and Brad was there, basking in the sun (wind) with the big dogs when his front tire punctured.  Lieto looked over and a smirk appeared, or something and that was that.  Eventually, I came around the corner to see black and neon hunched over a wheel, working on a new tube and a million ideas raced through my mind!  I first thought to stop and help…but, then realizing I was not the stronger rider, I headed up the hill at a slow pace with thoughts that once Brad got back up to me I’d power him back up to the front.  LOL what naivety!  I must have been suffering from extreme oxygen debt to even think that!


Once Brad caught up, halfway up the final pitch I hit the gas and carried us to the top of the crest.  Felt good until it didn’t because that 30 mph wind (or more?) came whipping over the top of the ridge we were on and even though we should have stopped climbing it felt like we hadn’t!  I quickly found out how spent I was and instead of dragging Brad back, he began dragging me!  I hid behind him like a little puppy, sheltering myself from the wind, and trying to find something left in my legs to help out.  I’d stick my wheel into the wind and try and pull through, only to get blown back into his wake.  We laughed a bit at the conditions.  Yelling at each other this and that like we were in a night club with music blaring.  The gorge wind tunnel was in full effect.

The truth though was Brad was in full on diesel mode.  All the climbers were getting blown around while he just laid the watts down.  He ended up pulling me to the group that I left when he flatted and once on the pavement they all hid behind him as well.  We gobbled most of the leaders of the big grind up on the top stretch into the wind.


Brad told me Kesselman and maybe others were opting for the big grinder instead of the super.  Oh great, I thought.  It was an even sadder moment though when I had to leave Brad for the turn onto the big grinder course.  I yelled something stupid like, “HAVE A GOOD RIDE BRAD”!  I don’t know if he heard.  I could barely even hear myself say it.


I settled into the group and we headed down the next gravel descent.  I was about mid-group and the wind was blowing at us from the left.  My 38mm tires felt like big sails in it and even at my weight I had to concentrate pretty hard to keep the bike headed straight.  Suddenly, John loses his front wheel to a gust, tries to save it, flips and takes a huge hit to the back of his head, body.  I hit the brakes and go by, looking back at the wreck and quickly deciding to stop.  Others blew by and I turned to see if he was ok.  Another guy had stopped as well.  John was on his back, his helmet crushed and seat bent all up.  The other guy asked if he was ok to which he replied, “no”!  We helped him to the side of the road and pulled his bike away as well.  I check my phone for coverage, 4 bars, could make a call if needed, then, realized I had no idea who to call.  I stayed with John for about 2 minutes and eventually another John showed up and said he was his friend.  I felt like things were under control and Whethers seemed ok so I decided to take off.  Maybe I could catch group?


For some reason the descent felt good despite knowing I could crash into a ditch and severely hurt myself.  I thought people were behind me but when I looked there was nobody in sight.  This let me open my mind to what was in front of me without worrying about what was behind me.  I averaged 30mph down the descent and gave myself hope that eventually the front group would cool their jets and I could catch them.  I passed one person just prior to the aid station, he looked cracked and didn’t even try to get on my wheel.  Could I catch others?


I hit the aid station quick, although my bike wouldn’t fit under the dang stand, oh what the heck.   I overheard the lady say that only 3 or so riders had gone though…how is this possible I thought?  Slammed PBJ and Nutella graham cracker sandwich, filled the bottles, grabbed 2 GU.  Was NOT stopping again.  Off I went.

View this post on Instagram

After being pummeled by 30mph gusts on a 50min gravel climb during the #gorgegravelgrinder a Wasco County "oasis" appeared. This mom/dad/son and daughter were slingin' Nutella and banana sandwiches along with the freakin' saltiest best tasting chips ever! Their van provided a much needed wind break as well as a heated santuary for one hypothermic rider. It was brutally cold, windy and desolate at this spot and this family was there for hours volunteering their time for the event. Shouts to this family and to all #volunteers who make events like this possible. Oh yeah…That view of 11,000' Mt Hood in the background made the climb worth it! * * * * * * #amaincycling #oregonbackroads #oregonbikeracing #cycling #gravelride #gravelgrinder #outsideisfree #mthood #cyclinglife #cyclist #cyclingphotography #cyclingpics #ridewithgps #wherethepavementends #explorenewroads #cyclingshots #roadslikethese #unlearnpavement #insearchofup #rideyourbike #traveloregon #onlyinoregon #roadcycling #fromwhereiride #thedalles #pnwlife

A post shared by KRhea (@krhea_frzfrmfoto) on


My soul got crushed not 5 minutes later at mile 42 when the gravel road pitched up like 9% into the sky.  I could see another rider but just could not close any on him!  I did the ole, shift to an easy gear maneuver, then realized I was already in my easiest gear.  I guess this is what it is like after hammering yourself for 2 hours 45 minutes straight.  Then after a short reprieve it got worse.

I didn’t really notice the climb at first because the guy I had come up on, Aaron, thought we were on 8 mile road and it sent me for a loop.  I tried to remember the profile but didn’t recall another long climb.  We chatted and I began to realize I was going really slow.  Maybe this was a climb?  I was laboring a bit when he asked if I thought 8 mile was actually 8 miles long.  I was confused as this was not 8 mile rd.  Either way, I hoped we were not on 8 mile because I really didn’t want to climb for 8 miles.  After a few more chats I came to understand that he was not racing, but just out for a ride with friends (who were nowhere to be seen).  When he had introduced himself as Aaron I thought, wait is this Aaron Borrill, a guy I follow on instagram?  So I said, Aaron Borrill? And he said yes, however, now that I see him on instagram there is no way it is Aaron.Borrill because that dude lives in South Africa!  Holy confusing times.

Anyhow, I ended up dropping him.  I seemed to be closing to the group ahead of me very briefly, but once I crested the final portion of the climb I could not see them.  I stopped to zip and then kept going down the other side, not to see another soul until after the 60mi aid station.  Pleasant ridge was fun.  The wind to my back made a huge difference in morale and the miles began ticking off more quickly.  There was a little kicker thrown into the middle of that extended my gap to the others.

Eventually, I hit Japanese Hollow and the sweeping pavement of 8 mile road.  The wind was at my back and 42×11 felt pretty easy to push.  I seemed to remember the course going steadily downhill all the way to the finish and I started feeling really good because A.) Nobody had caught me and B.) the hard parts of the race seemed to be over.  Little did I know that 8 mile road eventually heads into a wind tunnel and even though you’re going downhill it feels like you’ve hit a wall.  A massive wall of wind.

Medium grinder riders started popping up in front of me and I wanted to rest on their wheels but each time I approached it felt like they were standing still!  I went by one rider and yelled, “Heckuva way to end a ride huh”?  He yelled something obscene back.  I kept catching people but they were all medium grinder riders.  If you opened your mouth just right your cheeks would flap like a dog with their head out of the window going 60mph down the freeway.  It was hilarious!


I fought those final miles on 15 mile road.  I thought about taking a picture of a flag standing on end but declined.  I didn’t want to stop pedaling.  At this time I had another though that whoever settled The Dalles must be even less creative than me, can’t even name streets anything interesting, heck, can’t even name then after presidents at least.  I got a “good job” at the finish line and headed into town.  Felt good to be done.  Cramps were there but not debilitating.  It was a good ride.


I finished 10th in big grinder, 4th in my age bracket (men 18-30).  I was 7 min off the lead, 2 min off the podium.  Dang!


I waited and Brad finally came in with two others.  He worked hard to bridge up to them but said he got ANOTHER front flat.  Tubeless man, you need to go tubeless!  I had a beer while he pounded a burger.  We chatted about the race, enjoyed the sun, and hit the road home.  He ended up finishing 6th, 13th overall for the super grinder.  Great result considering the 2 flats.

In his words…

The hardest I’ve ever had to ride and mentally persevere to finish a bike ride.
Actually no, that title belongs to last years race in Bend.

Gimme a one liner summary…

Sailing a bike race!

When he got home his rear tire was flat…tubeless man, its time.


Dan was a bit worse off.  He had three flats, the last of which left him hanging for support.  He broke a tire lever too changing one of the flats.   Luckily, another rider was able to lend a hand and he was able to avoid a DNF for the day, finishing 35th in the big grinder.


As he put it…

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…many lessons.


Well, thats a wrap for the first race of the season.  Shout out to Chad and Breakaway promotions for the work put into the race.  Chip timing provided super fast results.  Totally dig the after party at Clock Tower Ales.  The Dalles is beautiful.  I really should have taken more pictures but for now hit up insagram #gorgegravelgrinder.  I probably would have had I felt like the wind would not rip the phone out of my hand!


See you next time!


Bonk Collective Racing