“Back on May 6th I had the opportunity to take part in one of my favorite gravel races, the Hellkaat Hundie. More important that being a race, this is a fundraiser for JDRF. The organizers keep the entry cost low and encourage participants to make donations to JDRF.
My dad, partner in long dumb races Chris, and I piled into the car Saturday morning to make the drive to the west side of Michigan for the race. On the way over we made our religious stop at McDonald’s for something with a caloric value, and some hot brown water to encourage our bodies to get rid of any extra grams it was hiding inside. Shortly after this stop we rolled up to the race start and picked up our packet pickup, then took care of expelling extra weight from our bodies. We threw the necessary race snacks on our bikes and headed to the start.
After a short rollout some folks decided they wanted to ride faster and increased the pace, my legs typically like a nice long warmup so after a few miles I was out of the lead group and just picking through other riders as my body get the message that I wanted it to ride hard for a few hours. I found myself in a small group with 3 one speeders, a fat bike, and a few geared guys. We seemed to work pretty well together which was a welcome change for me since I’m used to spending copious amounts of time riding in no mans land wondering if I’d be better if I threw some shifty bits on my bike and quit the one speed life. We stayed together through the first of 3 checkpoints before hitting some hills where folks started dropping off.
Before I knew it our 8 man group was down to me, a fat bike, and a geared guy. As we closed in on the 2nd checkpoint around mile 50 the geared guy announced that he needed to fill his bottles, and that he couldn’t keep the pace anymore. Since the fat bike and I had plenty of snacks and liquid we just checked in before jumping back on course. A short time later the guy rolling a fatty told me he couldn’t pull at my speed so I told him to just sit on my wheel and see if his legs would come around. As we rolled into the 3rd checkpoint with about 25 miles remaining I could tell that he was going to fall off at any minute. A quick refill of our bottles, and a couple swigs of my pickle juice at the checkpoint and we were back on the course.
I looked back when I reached the top of couple rollers and my companion was gone, I decided to press on alone since I knew there was only a single one speeder ahead of me. Knowing I had no chance of catching Mike I focused on just not getting caught by anyone else. This final section was my least favorite since it seemed like there was a never ending headwind and some award winning washboard. I rolled into the finish and was joined a few minutes later by Chris who was able to snag 3rd place in the one speed class and join Mike and I on the podium.”