ENVE Racing

Gravel Locos Hico Texas - Suffering!

The heat at Gravel Locos this year was brutal. I suffered from cramping and nausea. Just happy I finished and super happy I didn’t choose the 150 mile route!

This weekend was Gravel Locos Hico Texas.  It’s a gravel race in the small town of Hico Texas (about 90 mins NW of the closest big city, Waco), with the proceeds going to the local VFD, who need a new truck.  The first event was last year, put on by a guy who had never done a race before, in association with Ted King.  They did it right, and brought in a huge group of pros, including Ted, Lauren’s ten Dam, Alison Tetrick, Jess Cerra, Laura King, Peter Stetina, Dylan Johnson, Mat Stephens, Sam Boardman, The Vegan Cyclist, Lauren Stephens, Emily Newsom, and more.  It was a massive success as the small amount of regular riders got to hang and ride with the pros.  Rob Rudge (another Enve Athlete) did it last year and really encouraged me to join him this year.

Fast forward to this year, and Rob had to back out, so I went solo.  I got there early because there was a thigh deep water crossing last year that I was worried about and I wanted to pre-ride it.  The pre-ride went great, and the water was only about a foot deep, but on my way back, I slashed a tire badly.  I ended up walking back to the car, and driving to Waco, still in my kit, where I found an amazing shop that installed two new tubeless tires the same day.  I got back to my hotel 8 hours after I left for a short pre-ride, still in my kit!  The next morning, I went and did ANOTHER pre ride because I was on new tires I had never used before and wanted to get a feel for how they handled (great on loose over hard, great on gravel, great on pavement, ok in water, TERRIBLE on sand).  Thankfully this race had almost no sand, so I was good to go.

Race day, up at 4am for a 7:30 start.  Drove to Hico, ran into several friends from Houston who had signed up for the 150 mile gravel route, and talked about the heat.  I had decided to only do the 70 mile route because of the heat.  They all said they weren’t too worried and still were going for 150, so we went our separate ways.

At 7:45, the race organizer came on the PA to tell us a promising new gravel racer, Moriah (Mo) Wilson, who had come in 2nd at Leadville, 1st at Big Sugar, Belgian Waffle Ride, and Sea Otter, had been murdered the night before in Austin.  It put a total damper on the whole start, as she was friends with most of the pros and was supposed to join us.  It was decided that we would do a neutral rollout, with a moment of silence for Mo. It was a heavy situation.

Then the race began for real!  It was after 8am by then, and the heat was rising.  Temps for a large part of the day had feels likes well into 100+. I was doing great for the first 20 miles or so and rolled into the steepest climb of the day followed by the first rest stop feeling strong.  I refilled my camelback, my two water bottles with m personal malto/fructose mix, and grabbed a stroopwafel.  A LOT of people blew through the first rest stop (this is foreshadowing).

It was all downhill for me from there.  The heat hit hard.  There was zero cover and zero shade.  Just miles and miles and miles of dusty hot gravel roads.  I got to the 2nd rest stop feeling pretty low, my stomach nauseous, and fighting off cramping in my left leg.  I was in the bottom of the top 1/3 of the back, and they were already COMPLETELY out of water and the only food was Chex mix, pickles, and oranges.  I died a little, dumped some ice in my camelback, thanked the universe that I had stopped at the first rest stop and brought a camelback, and rode on.  That was when the true cramping kicked in.  I couldn’t put any pressure on the pedals without my left leg flaring.  I couldn’t climb without getting out of the saddle as a result, but I was just happy I could even do that. I was working at about 60% FTP and that was the most I had left.  I started passing people who were laying on the ground under bushes trying to get a little shade.  That went on for about the last 20 MILES.  I finally rolled into town, and made a terrible error.  With maybe a mile to go, I must have pushed too hard knowing the end was in sight, and that was when my left leg absolutely started SCREAMING.  I had to unclip, and i was doing one legged drills with my right leg pedaling and left leg sticking straight out.  Another half mile and my right leg gave in.  I couldn’t spin the full circle.  I was ratcheting my right leg through the allowable motion right to the finish.  At the last 100 feet, I clipped my left leg in for the picture you see here.  Got 10 feet past the line and jumped off my bike!

I eventually waddled my way to the staging area, grabbed an Untapped Maple Creamee, and sat under a tree.

I knew a few dozen people who started that race and all but 1 who planned to do the 150 or the 110 went down to the distance below after the heat kicked up.  It was one of the worst days I’ve ever had on a bike.  We started at 8am and there were people who didn’t finish until almost midnight!!  It’s two days later and my head is finally starting to clear up.  My legs are both still crampy two days later.  I never thought 70 miles could be so damn brutal!!

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