Gravel Grovel

November 29, 2014

Norman, IN

Tim Taylor was 16th in Masters and 35th overall out of 246!!

44 degrees, 10% pavement, 60% gravel,

30% dirt and single track with a lot of deer hunters.


The Gravel Grovel 60 mile UltraCX race was a unique event in the Hoosier State Park utilizing one lane paved, packed gravel, loose gravel, dirt trails, and mountain bike trails. 240+ riders on mountain bikes, cross bike, and frankenbikes rolled out like a century ride and then as we turned on the one lane paved road the speed accelerated to a good pace for about 3 miles. Then as we turned to some gravel and hills the pace went to warp speed and the field shattered into groups. Our new teammate, Justin Lowe, is a veteran of these races warned about the hard pace to split the field and get the hard core racers to the front. I managed to hold the front group through the first climbs and some gravel, but we hit a long climb and the field split again with me in the second group of about 25. I was maxed and hoping the pace would slack, but the variety of mountain bikers, single speeder, and cross bikes there was no cohesion. We just followed whoever was strong enough or had the bike skills to stay in front on the gravel. Our group stayed together and worked some to keep the speed reasonable catching riders that were dropped off the front. At about mile 10 we jumped a gate into a long section of unmaintained dirt road which had fallen trees, branches, ravines, creeks, and rocks. This started to break our small pack into with me probably being about average with the pace. Now this was a long slog that had some 18% climbs and a lot of wet bottoms to peddle through.
I thought it couldn’t get much worse than these miles and we came out on some hard packed gravel that I was able to make up some positions. Nice, but it was just enough time to eat and drink before plunging into single track MB trail that Daniel Boone must have made when he was drunk. I was totally out of my element in those trees on a skinny, slimey path that went up some bad climbs. Most of the I made over on my 34/30 gear, but a few we just had to hike and hope that it leveled enough to get back on and clip in before the hair raising descents. I went down one section for about 150 yds. with both brakes almost locked sliding on leaves, hitting rocks. The mountain bike guys were hooping and hollering with joy as they blew by me. I was like “I just passed you guys in the gravel climbs now you brush by me at a hundred miles a hour.” Finally we reached the end of the trail and climbed a gate to get on some gravel roads, I was passed by about 50 people in that section. Eat and drink again and try to put some speed back into the ride and wish there was no more single track, but in knew the course map showed two more sections.
We started to regroup and cruise until this 12-20% grade of a gravel hill smacked us in the face. After about a mile of this climb I passed most of the MBers that had went by me and the road switched to pavement for the descent. At the bottom I squeezed for brakes and just had enough to scrub speed, but not make the turn. Time for adjustment and to look at my rear wheel and hub. On one of the descents in the single track a group was stopped with bikes laying on the ground. I couldn’t stop because it was so steep, so I went through the trees, hit a stick that bent a spoke and messed up my hub, so that it was grinding every time I went to lower gears. Jumped back on course with my MB buddies and a few CX guys as they came off the hill. We had a good time riding the gravel to the second to last section of single track. I stayed with them on this short section and popped back out on gravel/pavement and they told me to just go on. I did, with one last single track section and then head to the finish, I slammed as much food and water as I could. I was in the bonk zone and just thought of my Giant road bike with those smooth Zipp wheels cutting the air on smooth pavement.
Getting off the single track we hit a 15 mile section of loose gravel. Very few hard pack wheel tracks to follow, just ride anyplace you could just to move forward. (sometimes the ditch was faster) My buddies caught me again and but no one was talking, just concentration to get to the finish. The loose gravel gave way to packed lanes and I went to the front again for some pulls. One of the CX guys started coming off the back and I let up, then one MB attacked as we started down a wicked descent. (I had rode this descent the day before and knew the turn at the bottom was no brakes.) Going into the turn I was 4th and the 2nd MB could not hold his line in lane one, touched his brakes and slid into lane two, which I had jumped to earlier to go with the attack. Both of us went into the ditch, but with all the other terrain and being so tired, I just stood and pedaled like a mad man going after the attack. It worked and I didn’t crash my brain out, but lost about 100 yds. Now our road switched to pavement and the finish was near, all that I had to do was catch a MB and CXer. They were turning and looking at me coming and started to work together before the last couple barriers. I caught them just as we entered the single track to an old iron bridge. Sub92014-14 Iron Bridge-2At the bridge they put their bike across the guardrail and blocked me from getting over. They ran the bridge length and I hopped on my bike and pedaled after them, caught just as the hit the second guard rail and again blocked. I rolled across it, jumped on the bike and sprinted after them. 20 yard lead at the final creek crossing and finish line, slammed my gears from 52/14 to 34/30 and dove down. I had scouted this out the day before with one of the organizers and he told me how to cross without slipping on the rocks. They were in the water as I started down the bank, turn left and 15 feet straight across the water to the other side. We crossed finish tire to tire just thankful for a safe race and blessed with excellent weather. My time was one hour after the leaders, but it was an good adventure and I learned a lot of bike handling skills the hard way.
Justin Lowe had a great race on his Frankenbike in 5th place and probably finished the UltraCX series on the podium.

by Tim Taylor

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Patrick Andre takes 2nd Memphis Velo Cross!

I just took second to Johnny Brown in the Cat1/2/3 Memphis Velo cross race with a heart rate average of nearly 180 for 50 minutes.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

5th Annual Take Your Girls Night Out 5K

The 5th Annual Take Your Girls Night Out 5K and One Mile Fun Run was put on by Jon Ewing and the Woman’s Clinic in Jackson, TN to raise money for the American Cancer Society. It was another great year with lots of participants. I was there as a participant in the 5K along with 3 of my 4 children, Claire, Ella, & Luke. Georg, Betsy, and the Pingen crew were there as well. The course was hilly and wound through the neighborhoods of the surrounding area. It started and finished at the Woman’s Clinic. The Piercey and Pingen families scored some nice hardware and have a lot of fun at the same time. Betsy Pingen was the overall female winner and both Jake and Jonah medaled in their respective age groups! Jake (7) was 2nd in the boys 7-9 age group and Jonah (5) was 1st in the boys 6 & under age group. Claire (12), Ella (9), & Luke (9) each were 1st in their age groups with Luke running an impressive 22:44! I finished 4th overall with a time of 18:43, which was good enough for 1st in my age group.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crankenstein 100 mile Team Time Trial

Casstown OH


Team 1st lap 2014

Crankenstein 100 is a unique event where three teammates ride a portion of the 100 miles. I was able to ride for Ft. Wayne Outfitters team, part of their Co-Ed Road Bike category to a first place ride of 4 hours 31 minutes.  This was a switch from time trial bike to road bike at the last moment to help win the different categories they targeted.  Crankenstein promoter pays out half the entry money of each category and how you place the riders with like strengths is important.  Out of the 6 Outfitters teams entered 4 won, so our payout was good split between all of our riders.
Our first rider, Don C. did his 22 mile leg when the weather was calm and cool, he lost about 2 minutes from the first place team. Valerie D. rode the second leg and made up about 1 minute. I rode the third leg, past the first place guy and then he past me back and caught a draft from another team and held 26 MPH for about three miles.  Since there was a no draft rule I was hoping he burnt himself out. By the end of the second lap he was faltering. I came in even with the first place team and then all three of us went into the last 34 mile leg.  The sun had come out and it was about 85 degrees. I told Don not to bring me a water bottle and thought I could do the 56 mile total with one bottle.   Not a wise choice, I was borrowing the teammates bottles by the end.   We chased the first place team down on the first lap and past them at mile 73 and then they came back around us at mile 77.  We held them at about 100 – 200 yards and my plan was the last lap come by them with about one mile to go.

2014 CO ED Winners 4hr 31min

At mile 80 there was an intersection with us having the stop sign.  The other team made it through, but we had to stop for three cars.  It was a mental killer to see the we were now a quarter mile behind.  I told Valerie and Don to stay calm and don’t panic we could reel them back if we continued our rotations and focus.  Valerie dropped her water bottle and now Don was the only one with water and about 18 miles to go.  As we finished our second lap we had reeled in the first place team at about 100 yards and the plan was to stay there and breathe a little before making the final push.  Valerie was on the front and quickly closing on first place team, they had a team member that cramped, and we were by them. Not knowing the issue with the other team all of us put in some hard pulls to get separation.   Later we found out they had to stop for the cramping issue and finished 10 minute down to us.  Our winning time was 4 hours 31 minutes, winners of the Co-ed Road Bike category.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment