Last year on a whim and encouragement from my cycling buddies I signed up for Dirty South. I quickly did the N+1 purchase (formula for how many bikes you should own where N is the current number of bikes). We rode through winter and did some ‘hills’ and ‘gravel.’
What I learned last year was that training was not enough so this year I made an effort to do more miles, training, and harder rides before DSR. In February, we rode the Dirty Petersburg Route with 24-30mph head winds, did a metric heading out to Ashland and back, and did hill training in Oak Ridge Cemetery, tackled some dirt roads at Site M.
In the perfect world, I would have done even more training but life happens as husband, dad, and someone with a normal work schedule. However, it did help! I felt stronger this year and knocked off 37 minutes from last year’s time.
I was also aware of what the course had in store and was efficient at rest stops.
The day before the race, Central Illinois got hit with rain, wind, and snow. And in Southern Illinois they received almost 4 inches of rain. Course conditions were questionable before the race, but the weather passed, the ground dried out, and the sun came out.
We had trained in winter gear, but the day of the race I wore short bibs, with a regular jersey and a long sleeved thermal jersey and thin gloves. The temp started in the 40s and was in the mid 60s by the time I finished.
Making a comeback to my wife’s dismay was the “racing mustache.” Although it can’t be accurately measured, I think it gave me an extra 20-50 watts of power climbing those hills! And just like my racing season, it’s only an exhibition, so it will be disappearing till the next race.
We had a great group of riders show up from the Springfield Bicycle Club. A lot of the same riders suffered with me on those February training rides.
DSR is a hard race especially being in the beginning of March when there’s not ideal conditions to train. However, that last-last hill you have to climb into Alto Pass as you’re questioning why you like gravel cycling goes away as you crest your way into town and cross the finish line.