"This Will Leave A Mark" – Alison Tetrick Unpacks Unbound Gravel 2021
Don’t worry, I am a professional. But let me tell you about a roller coaster of a day at Unbound 200 (which is in fact 206 miles and not 200 miles, but, hey, semantics).
I have been sharing my story in waves because it was a long day on the bike. And for me, it was much longer than expected. I had a fortune cookie once tell me to prepare for the worst but hope for the best—I should have remembered those foreboding words prior to embarking on my Flint Hill journey.
But. There are those that learn by hearing, those that learn by doing, and those that never learn at all. It is debatable where I fit into that equation.
Alright, let’s take you through this ride data. First of all, I love using my Lezyne Mega XL GPS. The battery life is to die for, and by that, I mean, it sure takes a lot to die! I use it for navigation and turn-by-turn and it just keeps going and going. Longer than I want to ride that’s for sure. It also grabs important information like my speed, time, distance, power, heart rate, cadence, etc. All the data. I love data. I am a biochemist by trade after all. But I only like to look at the data after the event. Training is a different story, but I prefer to ride off of feel during “racing” and just fixate on my next turn—and the song in my heart—instead of worrying about anything else.
As you can see, every gravel event starts out spicy. Everyone thinks they are world champion at this moment. I tend to make jokes like, what is the hurry? We have 12 hours to sort this out. But no one is that funny at 6AM. It was surge, brake, crash, surge, brake, crash, float. There is nothing insane about my power, but my heart rate slowly starts elevating throughout the day.
It got hot.
I was involved in two crashes and you can see them. A sweaty bike embrace if you will. I really would have preferred them practicing social distancing at this point, but it’s ok. That’s bikes.
I was racing until I couldn’t. My body was in shock from the increasing heat and humidity. It was chills and cramps and spinning head. My heart rate was through the roof. Darn pandemic. I blame you. I hadn’t done an event this long for over 18 months and this was a big ask for my body. I settled into ride mode and literally stopped to smell the flowers—wild roses are delightful.
I also met new critter friends. I love talking to the horses and cows. You can see that in the data. My power comes down, my speed decreases and goes on a jungle cruise of a Kansas magic carpet ride.
And then I saw friends! My pace increased. I followed wheels. It was so much fun. I wasn’t alone. You can see the spikes and ebbs and flows of me resetting and feeling better. The race is back on and I feel great. And then I didn’t. Kaboom. Cramp city.
I went from race to ride to race to ride to survival. The finish was a death march in itself. I was playing Russian Gut-lette seeing what food I could keep down. I stared two feet in front of me and swerved around the road. It was a doomsday struggle bus. My friends passed me. I didn’t know my name. But I knew I would finish. I would honor the race and all the efforts of the kings and queens out there. It is our race. And it always will be.
Elapsed Time: 15:25:44 Ride Time: 13:40:45
Distance: 214.24 mi Elevation: 8,671.26 ft
Calories: 8,094 kcal Total Work: 7,780.71 kJ Training Stress Score: 542 TSS
The moral of the story, I actually think I paced the event really well and was operating in my scope of ability. However, I just had a bad day with some random luck..really just one of those days, as they say. I am thankful for all of those that encouraged me along the way and gave me a wheel or two when I needed it...even if I couldn’t stay on it!
You know the drill. You can always prepare and eat and drink early and often for your best day ever. And sometimes that best day ever is an elusive carrot up the road, and you stare at it longingly. Pacing is key and staying positive is paramount. I was thrilled to finish and be able to ride with my gravel family. It was right where I wanted to be.
Well, not exaaaaaactly where I wanted to be...eagle-eyed readers will notice my finish time and my elapsed time don't quite match up....Finishing the event as a true gravel connoisseur should, I went straight to the local pub, Mulready's, and cheersed the day with my gravel family and got behind the bar and poured some beers for all before I finally made it home. And with that, here's one more cheers to any day we get to ride bikes!
Photos: Pure Gravel's Steve Driscoll