A Mammoth Gravel Classic Report

Here’s a great write up from Greg G…

“A few weeks ago CyclovaXC shop owner/Mammoth organizer, and fellow gravel aficionado, Frank Lundeen and I joined a few other adventurers to confirm the cue sheet for the upcoming Mammoth Gravel Classic April 18th.  We had an amazing day chronicled elsewhere on the Cup O Dirt bloggerama.

Last Saturday the event arrived abruptly with a late start for me.  I timed my departure from Gvale, my country home 18 miles south of the starting line perfectly.  The goal was to roll up, sign in, take my place at the front and get ready for whatever was to be delivered.  I was three miles from home when I realized my shoes were next to the door.  I confidently calmed myself with the ancient wisdom bestowed upon by years of riding and racing these types of events.  They never start on time, right?  Nonetheless, this disruption to the time-space continuum forced a rush to prepare upon arrival.  Despite of the self-imposed time penalty, I rolled up to CyclovaXC in time to chat with a few fellow riders and Mark Fisk, Wooly Bike Club trail nerd and bike race promoter.  After a minute or two of casual banter with Mark I asked him what time the 100 mile group was rolling out.  It was about 8:10 and many bikers were checking tires, padding pockets, stuffing frame bags…getting readly around the front and rear of the bike shop.  “Oh, they left about 10 minutes ago…”  Great.  Thanks for telling me when I rolled up!  No, “Hey Greg you better get going they left 10 minutes ago”, or “Dude, if you hurry you’ll catch them…”

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Photo credit: Cyclova.com

Now keep in mind the fact that this is not a race.  Its a ride.  Which is fine with me.  However it doesn’t mean the racer inside of me doesn’t want to ride fast and try catch the front.  After 25 minutes of what I will call a “solo pursuit” I saw the tail end of the riders.  I’m sure the group I intended to ride with is well off the front leaving  scattered carnage in their wake.  I picked through about 12 riders when I caught up to Jason and Nate.  They were with Frank and I when we confirmed the course a few weeks before.  Turns out they started late as well.  They were riding their own pace.  Smart.  I told them I planned to chase down the front and they should grab my wheel if they want to.   They jumped on and we bridged up to another group of friends.  We just hit the first gravel section, a mix of sandy substrate, class five and double track, Frank dubbed the “Sample Platter” the previous ride.

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Photo credit: Cyclova.com

I could see the group did not share my misguided plan of solo attack, so I put my head down and pushed on eyeing the next riders dropped from the lead.  After leap frogging a few more riders I noticed fellow Hollywood Cycles racer Mitch Bruns chasing me down.  He decided he would join me for the pursuit.  Shortly after that Ben Mullin joined us.  The three of us rode into the first real opportunity to refuel in Grantsburg, WI.  A few members of the lead group, including Frank Lundeen and Josh Stamper of Gravel Conspiracy fame were still there topping off bottles and mentally loading for the next section through the Crex Meadow to Siren, WI.  Josh took off solo.  A big group of about 10 rolled out to enjoy the beauty and magic of the Crex.  After hitting the first section of gravel, well sand actually, the crew blew apart.  About 10 miles from Siren we caught Stamper, tucked him in and rode in to Siren.  Frank looked at me and said, “How about wood fire pizza and beer?”.  That’s a combo hard to turn down.  Pressed for time, two riders kept going while Frank, Ben, Josh and myself stopped for a well deserved break.  We pulled into Tesora, ordered a round of pizzas…and I mean incredible artisan stuff here…and a few ciders and pale ales.  Sated, we jumped onto the Gandy Dancer trail for the remaining 35 miles back to St. Croix Falls.  We kept a lively pace, and unlike the last time we rode this course, the conditions were perfect.  Its amazing what a couple of weeks of sun and warm temps will do to a trail surface.  My soul and spirit will remain intact this time.

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Photo credit: Cyclova.com

The group that fell off after Grantsburg was reenlisted after a few miles on the trail.  We sent out a pizza beacon for them, but apparently they didn’t see the flares.  They rode right through Siren choosing the next food stop at the amazing Cafe Wren in Luck, WI right on the Gandy Dancer trail.  Caffeine and bean burritos were consumed by those missing the pizza party.  With only 15 miles to go, I was itching to get on my bike again and close out the day.  Besides, Frank was due back to the shop to hand out the swag at 4:30.  Frank and I left the group to finish their burritos.  We kicked up the pace clicking off the remaining miles.  Its so very satisfying to see the trail markers count down, 9, 7, 6, 5, 3…we jumped off the trail to coast in on Fair Grounds Road in St. Croix Falls just in time for the swag hand out, a few high-fives and stories shared from day’s adventure.  Awesome day, great company.Well done Frank!  

Best quotes of the day:
“You can soar like an eagle, but the weasel doesn’t get sucked into jet engines”-Stamper
“I’m riding well above my pay grade”-Ben
“Even if it sucks, it’s going to be awesome!”-Frank

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Jim

Cup O'Dirt Admin

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