The Gravel Millennium
After ten gravel centuries, I've finished seven and ridden almost 1000 miles of gravel.
2009 Almanzo 100 ("The Hurricane"). My first century attempt (gravel or otherwise). It was so windy, I had to pedal downhill. My 32 mm slick tires sucked on gravel and my legs were not up to the challenge. I made it to the checkpoint but not in time to finish -- which was good, because I was totally done.
2010 Almanzo 100. I trained hard and rode over 600 miles before the Almanzo. I also got a new bike which was much more comfortable. The training paid off and I finished (DFL with Garrick). It helped that the weather was perfect. The event was marred by Ben falling and breaking his collar bone.
2010 Westside Dirty Benjamin. Flatter and a bit longer than the Almanzo, but still a challenge. I finished a bit under my Almanzo time.
2010 Gentleman's Ride. The same course as the Almanzo, but you ride with a team. We had a decent time going when Garrick's seat post bolt broke around mile 80. He tied his saddle back on with string(!) but going up hills was treaturcous, so we called it and rode back to Spring Valley for a total mileage of around 90 miles.
2011 Ragnarok 105. This race was in April, the earliest I'd ever attempted such a ride, and very hilly. I signed up for a spinning class to get ready. There was still some snow on top of one of the hills and it threatened rain, but the weather cooperated and I finished. The race was actually 111 miles long.
2011 Almanzo 100. A month after the Ragnarok, the weather was incomparably worse. I was not prepared for the cold and wet conditions. My gloves soaked through within the first 10 miles and soon I could not feel my toes. We made it to the rest area at Preston and Garrick had some hot tea for us, which was nice. I decided I didn't want to be out in that weather for another 7 hours. I was crushed by gravel.
2011 Westside Dirty Benjamin. The roads where sandy like the year before, which makes riding difficult. I finished in under 10 hours, my best century time to date.
2011 Heck of the North. Probably the most beautiful ride I've ever been on. The scenery was amazing. I was out of shape from not riding much in the summer (we spent 5 weeks away from home without a bike). I'm pretty sure I finished last but there are no official results.
2012 Almanzo 100. Garrick called it the food dehydrator: hot and windy. This was the redemption ride after last year's failure. The 25 mph headwind was incredibly demoralizing, but I finished.
2012 Westside Dirty Benjamin. For some reason, I always let myself go after the Almanzo and the Dirty Benjamin is harder than it should be. Still, I think I could have beat my time from last year if I hadn't made 2 wrong turns. It rained which was somewhat unpleasant but kept the dust and heat down.
Every race I do is a challenge and I'm happy to finish. I'm know I won't win. It's a race against my own limits, to finish.