David Pearcey takes third place!!
Tim Taylor and I kicked off our race season, leaving the snow behind with a 105 mile gravel race appropriately named the Texas Chainring Massacre (Coolest race name ever) The event is put on by Spinistry and it was held north of Dallas in Valley View, TX. Overall, there were about 300 participants. In the 105 mile open race, there were 70-80 racers. Tim and I were both in the open race. The temperature at race start was about 30 degrees with the high slated to be about 49. In typical fashion, I decided against leggings or knee warmers. Tim, on the other hand, was dressed for the occasion. Our bikes were setup similarly. Tim ran a SRAM CX1 44 chainring with an 11-32 cassette, while I had a similar chainring but with an 11-28 cassette.
The race was on right out of the gate and for about the first 25 miles. The course was a mix of gravel and paved roads with about 90% being gravel. Most of the gravel was of the fast, hard-packed type. The scenery included mostly pasture, a few houses, cattle, goats, dogs, people shooting guns, and miles of fencing.
Tim put in a hard dig off with anotherguy for about a mile breaking the group down. About 20 miles in, we came out of a creek bottom and started a wicked stair stepped ascent with chunky loose gravel. The group was shattered with only about 20 riders remaining upfront. I managed to stay with the front group and Tim fell back into one of the smaller groups. The course continued with some short steep climbs one right after the other and riders were shelled reducing the front group to about 12. Tim stayed strong and chased with the people that he was with.
Meanwhile, I made it to the halfway point timecheck with about 9 riders and I kept going without stopping for water or the bathroom. At this point, there were 3 of us that stayed out. I decided to go and ride strong but steady. My aim was to average around 20 mph. I was by myself for about 25 miles until Bob Cummings bridged up to me with a nice gravel bike set up with some Zipp aero bars. I had seen him a little ways back for several miles, but I was not going to gain much by working with him. We road together for about 5-10 miles. The word on the street was that Bob was known for his gravel racing and finished 4th at the Dirty Kanza, a famous 200 mile gravel race.
Tim came into the halfway point with about 5 riders and they all made a pit stop for about 3 minutes. Only Tim and 3 others came out of the pit stop together. About two miles in Bob Cummings Kansas teammate, Rob Bell, joined Tim in the chase with his aerobar gravel bike and young gun motor. Aerobar Rob tires got soft twice and we backed off the pace to allow a Co2 fill and another guy with tire issues, Iron Pig rider back into our group. For 50 miles this group composition changed until there was only one from the original chasers with Tim and Aerobar Rob. Both Tim and Aerobar Rob had teammates ahead and didn’t want to drag a group to the front three. I continued my quest for what was now 3rd place. Matt Stephens with Elevate Racing had gotten away around mile 25 and was known to be a strong contender. He was looking at 1st place while Bob had moved into 2nd place. I continued on for another 25 miles and I was glad to finally be on the asphalt homestretch section. I finished with a time of 5:23:19 for 3rd place!
Tim’s group had about 6 people in total and everyone hung on. Tim rode with Rob Bell and Iron Pig and it was essentially the three of them working for the last part of the race trading pulls. The last 4 miles were through town and into a gravel parking lot to the finish line timing strip. Aerobar Rob was on the back through this section and Tim though, since they had waited on him and given equipment he would not sprint. Iron Pig sacrificed his chances with pulls and at 150 yards from the parking lot Aerobar Rob jumped us for 4th place and Tim was 7th. Lesson learned “a race is a race”.
It was a very good day on the gravel and the Texas winds were kind to us all.