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.

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.