Gravel cyclists from all over the country converged on Emporia, Kansas, ground zero for the gravel world this weekend. My Facebook feed was filled with weather reports, last minute crew scrambling, packing lists, and all the excitement that accompanies road trips and goal races. Me, I painted my dining room wall, went mountain biking, and stalked the internet for race updates.
The scenery looks incredible and, importantly, the Motherlode is 210 miles with around 13,000 feet of climbing. I'm not sure why I feel called to do these long races when perfectly good 70 and 110-mile routes are also available, but there it is. I'm one of three solo women and only 30 racers total registered for the long course. This promises a very different experience than Kanza.
Yes, my gravel family had its annual reunion, and I stayed home. After four years of obsessively thinking about and training for Dirty Kanza, I sat this one out. Not registering was surprisingly painless, but as race day approached I started suffering withdrawal pains. I love the yearly pilgrimage, seeing familiar faces every time I turn around. I love the incredible big-ness of the open range. I love coming home with epic stories and pictures from the amazing photographers.
Though the race sold out insanely fast, last-minute spots became available as plans changed. I could have raced again this year and definitely had the miles logged to support another finish, but skipping DK was a training decision. This year I'm trading the Flint Hills of Kansas for the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Two years ago some of the DDRP guys went west for Gold Rush and have only had good things to say about it. Jeff and I went to South Dakota the summer before Jacob was born and loved it. We've talking about going back every since. When Gold Rush caught my eye, a family vacation seemed like a great way to make us all happy, especially me.
|Photo credit for all pictures: Gold Rush Gravel Grinder Facebook page
I'm typically pretty comfortable tackling things on my own, but this time I'm glad my friend Renee will be there, too. Thinking about the distance, the elevation profile, and the potential for isolation gets overwhelming, Still, every time my holy shit meter hits the red zone, I look again at the pictures of where we'll be riding and realize how lucky I am.
I've certainly questioned myself, my sanity, and my ability to complete the race during some some shorter events this summer, but I guess the challenge is what makes it interesting. Where's the adventure in doing something you know you can do?