Today’s guest blogger is Big Pig Racing’s Steven Thomson from down in Texas. Steven made the trip from Texas to Nebraska to race the Gravel World Championships on his fixie single speed. Here is how
2011 Gravel Worlds via Fixie
by Steven “cH4os” Thompson, Big Pig Racing
It all began for me soon after the devastating DNF (it hurts to even type those letters), at the Dirty Kanza 200, when Aaron Gammel, a PCL Champion Racer pinged me on Facebook, and asked if I was coming to the Gravel World Championships. “YEAH MAN! I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
As good Texans, my son Chris and I, jump in the truck and head north to race the unknown and unconquered terrain of Nebraskan Gravel. The World Championships! Of the World! On gravel! In Nebraska… I love it!
First Stop: We headed up to crash on the couch of a good friend Tommy, from BikeOne Oklahoma City, just to knock a few hours off the 10+ hour drive. After a night of sitting around around drinking Oklahoma 2% Corona’s (Damn — they sucked!). We woke early and started the next leg of the drive heading right into the storms, lightning and thunder that has already passed through our destination! We are committed. We know it will be wet and muddy, nothing would stop us this time.
Pre Race: The Good Life… We were staying with a dear friend, Sydney Brown, Womans MTB, Road and CX Bike Racer, Total and Complete Champion of the World. We arrive at 4:20 pm, to her warm home. Sydney has teenagers, so a night of fun was planned, and Chris’ arrival was perfect timing, they headed out for a night on the town.
Sydney and I, rode over to Register at CycleWorks shop. We were greeted by Malcolm standing at the keg, a very pleasant welcome indeed!
I got to know a few of the PCL Crew, from the DK, those guys are badass and I love them! I knew this was going to be a great race!! Saw another Texan, Ian Moore from Bicycles Outback, who broke his frame at DK. Just setting in from a 10+ hour drive, and a pending 13ish hour bicycle race, I had scheduled a massage for that night. We took a tour of the city on the singlespeeds. Lincoln is a very nice little college town, totally bike friendly. Then I headed over to an amazing massage, Thanks Jamie! I was able to get a good deep stretch, and a foot, leg and shoulder massage. Then off to Indian food for dinner (pre-race routine for cH4os), add Baklava for desert and the belly is full, ready for WAR. Well, Sydney was racing Singlespeed, cuz she is a total Badass! So I insisted on the full singlespeed racer life experience. Yes, martini bar!
Race: I am driving over in the wet streets, getting safe for the all day 153 mile race. I arrive 30 minutes late, sun is on the horizon, and the gravel is soft and wet! Syd hands me the Map, and off I go. Turn the GPS on, and start the Course, compliments of Spinistry, Thanks Kevin! 45 minutes behind, I have all day to catch up… I am racing FIXIE 42×17 on the Specialized Singlecross with CST Corporal Kevlar Cop tires. I settle in and follow all of the tire marks. 20 miles in I spot some racers! yes the back of the pack. I didn’t unclip for the descents, because I love to pedal them, while I’m alone.
Minimum Maintenance Roads: Mile 30ish we enter the Minimum Maintenance Roads, Dirt Roads, just add water = deep muddy roads! I am trying to make up time, so I ride as far as I can, until the bike won’t move. I have passed around 20 at this point. I have the bike on my shoulder and as I walk I see a girl in Pink, struggling with the mud and carrying the bike. With virtually no sleep, still kinda drunk and very safe, I mention how “Pretty in Pink” she looks knee deep in mud! Turns out it was Emily (Harrenstein). We hike for the 2 and 1/2 miles through the mud, I am providing motivation to continue for a few that fell discouraged. I am tracking the foot prints, and as we peak the hill top, there are less traffic. I look to the side and see a pasture! we jump up, clean the bikes, and ride!! Yeah back in the saddle. One more hill of mud, until the Gravel cross street. Now we have massive sticky mud, collecting 1/2 rocks and firing them off the wheels!! I race down to the Gas Station which is the first of 4 stops, I jump in a buy my Lotto Ticket (Lotto Tickets are used to checkin, and time stamp)
Checkpoint 1: Caught another 15 or 20 racers, had a Gatorade and filled up the water, and bolted! Dont remember much of this section, just really drove hard to make up time. My Average was 12.8 mph, as I was riding slow on the wet gravel and alone, I dont unclip so my down hill is not more than 18. I did hookup with another SSer Joe Savoie from Omaha on a Bianchi, we ended up leap frogging the rollers.
Checkpoint 2: Half Way pull into the General Store in this little town, and saw a gang of people! Matt Wills also rolling FIXIE!! Carl, Rihno, Matt Gersib… I had caught the pack! MattG had bailed, the mud destroyed his derailleur, but he just came off a killer Performance at DK!
I was stoked to get to this point! Stopped and chatted with everyone, and enjoyed a Sarsaparilla, drank more gatorade, still not hungry. My Mix of Hammer Sustained Energy (4 scoops) and 2 scoops of Gatorade Pro G2, with Keps Pollen Balls, was working well. My Average was up to 13.1 mph now it’s time to unclip the downhills and start passing!
I waited for Matt and Carl to start out, they had milk shakes from the local ice cream parlor! HA HA… I was having some safety concerns that needed attention. After getting sorted, we rode together for a 10 mile stretch or so. Matt was fixie, although we didnt know each other was fixed until after! Carl, from Monkey Wrench, had the most Beautiful Bike I had seen on the Race, definitely Best in Show! Fenders, basket and white walls. He carried the bike over all the mud, there wasnt a spec on the bike!!
I charge up a few hills and just keep going, my next goal is to make it before dark. So I am just rolling these big hills, never unclipping, just mashing up them, and I see a rider in the distance, it’s an Angel, Sydney (who decided to not start and support her friend Emily). She rolled up at 100 and back tracked. She was super fast, charging everything, not effected by the mud or grass, she charges at the next big muddy section. I, wise to the pasture scene, jumped an electric fence, and yes ZAP in the balls! Felt good after 125 miles though. With Sydney challenging every pedal stroke my average kept creeping, I now achieved 13.3 mph.
I love cows. Screaming down the fence line with all these cool cows hanging out, I met up with Malcolm on a Tandem and caught back with David on his SS. Glad to see them, right before the Gravel Worlds Oasis.
The Oasis was a beer filled checkpoint, with a special lotto scratcher, I didnt win the lotto. I was not in the mood for a beer, I didnt eat anything just liquid funkiness, tons of water, but was awesome for my mission!
Sun in the sky, 10 miles to go! Dave, Sydney and I take off North, till the last left turn west, right into the sunset! With all of the corn fields and a Barn, it was amazing, so beautiful. I had made it! 8th place Singlespeed Gravel World Champion! 14:24:30 from official start time! That is considered a CHAOS BIG PIG WIN!
Just an amazing feeling, I was thinking of Chris, and how my little Chaos is so awesome! and how the old souls of awesome people all come together to challenge and help one another in whacky ass situations like gravel racing!!!!
I LOVE IT!! IM ADDICTED TO THE ROCK!!
BIG PIG RACING IS ALL IN!!!