January 29, 2019 - Great day and great race. Course was awesome, weather was awesome, and I had a decent day though I feel I left some out there. Finished 6th in the 50 mile race. Round 3 in two weeks!
After a disappointing start to my season with a DNF in Round 1 of the Mississippi Gravel Cup which took place in my hometown of Oxford, MS, I traveled down to South MS for Round 2. Round 2 took place around Camp Shelby, an army training base. There were lots of cool military items to be seen in and around the course.
After having a pretty rough two weeks between work and being sick, I opted to enter the 50 mile race (actually about 53 miles) rather than the 100 mile race. I still had a really bad cough and my head just wasn't into the 100, so I opted for teh 50 which turned out to be a great decision. As a bonus, I got to sleep in a bit, it was about 10 degrees warmer at the start, and I got to ride the whole day with my good buddy and former teammate who was in from Dallas (where I lived until April 2018).
The race started off fast as expected and I was feelign good. About 10 miles in, there was a series of pretty washed out and rutted descents. It was really difficult to stayon the leader's wheel here as it was just too risky not being able to see the ruts that he could see. Following the descent was a bridge crossing that had to be walked as the bridge was closed. Immediatly after the crossing, there was a nasty, rutted out climb. A group of 4 got away here having already created a small gap on the descent. 5 or 6 of us were strung out here but eventually organized a solid chase group of 4 a few miles down the road. We road hard the rest of the day and kept a great pace but the lead 4 were too far ahead. About mile 49 (3-3.5 miles from the finish), my buddy from Dallas attacked on a climb and got a good gap. I let him go initially, then decided to chase about .5 miles later. I kicked and neither of my companions came with me so it would be a solo chase which is what I wanted. I rode hard for the last 2.5 miles or so getting to within about 30 yds of my buddy at times but in the end he held me off. He rolled across 5th and I came in about 5 seconds later in 6th. We were about 11 minutes off the winner's pace and 6-7 off of 2 through 4.
Overall a fantastic day. I'm looking forward to Round 3 of the Mississippi Gravel Cup in another two weeks. Hopefully I'll have a top 5 in me if I can ditch this cough/congestion before then.
Some of the gravel roads were smooth, some were rough, and there were some pretty rutted out and washed out climbs and descents, but my ENVE G23s ate it all up and it was smooth sailing no matter the condition. Combined with my ENVE carbon stem and ENVE SES Aero carbon bars, I had a super smooth ride in even the roughest conditions. I've also been using the ENVE bottle cages this year and they are bombproof. Haven't dropped a bottle yet with them and I've been over some pretty rough terrain.