It’s taken about a week for this all to set in. Last weekend was the 2013 Almanzo100 located in southern Minnesota. An AMAZING 100 mile gravel road race put on by Mr. Chris Skogen. I’ve posted that video like 100 times. I even met him at the registration, super nice, little awkward, but I’m sure that comes with dealing with about a thousand strangers coming up and saying hi all day long. That must get tiresome, but it’s very much appreciated Chris. You are a true man.
Originally I wasn’t going to be able to do it, by the time I got a bike to do this ride this year, the registration had ended. Thanks to a friend who couldn’t or wouldn’t go (wuss bag), I was offered to take his place by Eric Alexander from the Twin Six Metal team.
Anyway, we started the “race” from Spring Valley, MN. My poor bike had way too much crap on it. I had a seat bag, small handlebar bag, and a Jandd frame bag with 70oz. Camel Back bladder in it. I also had two big bottles and one bottle in my jersey. As this was to be totally self supported with no check points or rest stops. There were however a couple of places to re-fill along the route. My bike took awhile to get used to with all that weight.
About 10min off the start we past some cameras and all of a sudden I hear a familiar voice shout, “SCHRATZ, no wheelie? WEAK SAUCE!” It was one of the guys ridding from NCC, a shop that puts on a similar event call the GRAVEL METRIC. That stuck with me the whole ride. Thank you Dean.
The route…was the most beautiful route I’ve ever been on my bike. It sounds kinda stupid, but it was one of those life changing bike rides. The gravel was fast and hard due to a long winter. Not like the loose golf ball gravel we have here in Illinois. climbs, real climbs. It was just shy of 7k feet of climbing. Which is a lot considering the most I’ve ever climbed was under 3k, and that was a lot of work to get it to be that much.
Personally, I was riding stronger than I could have imagined. Especially just finding out I was going a month earlier. I was pulling away from Eric quite a bit once we got going. Not wanting to ride alone or drop him, I would stop and take in the scenery until he came back up to me.
We stopped at the 40ish mile mark in a little town and picked up some more water and some snacks. I ran into my friend Annette from the Half Acre Cycling team. She had lost her cohorts and I offered her to ride with us.
Creek crossings, climbs, sun, cramping, climbs, diverted routes and yo-yoing was how the rest of the day went. The other creek crossing was so gnarly that people were getting swept away. The three of us stayed with in an eye-shot of each other. I cramped at 75ish cause I ran out of water, Eric was killing it from 70-90, Annette rode a steady strong pace.
After what seemed like a 10min long decent I was feeling better and happy, then Oriole Rd came up. F-THAT road. Cat 4 climb, apparently. I rode about 1/3 up and jumped off and walked 1/3 till I saw cameras and hooped back on and killed the rest of the ride. The last 8 or so miles I went for it, dropping Annette and Eric. I came off the gravel with another guy and turned into the “head wind” and I could hear him grown and course the headwind, which was barley 15mph. I looked at him and said, “your not from Illinois are you?” then dropped his ass, being used to riding in 40+mph head winds of the barren waste lands of Illinois. I finished strong and waited for Annette and Eric. Annette was right there, only like 5 min behind me.
I still can’t tell you how amazing this ride/race was. I finished about 341 out of close to 800. Not bad, pretty sure I can finish the top 100 next year. I felt so strong all day, and really happy with how well I did on the hills. My fat ass can’t climb for shit! haha.
I saw so many wonderful things and people. Minnesota is everything I ever wanted it to be and more. I can’t wait to go back. Thank you Chris Skogen, thank you.