Wild Horse Gravel - BNG is Back, Bitches!

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Dani and I headed out to Da Beque, Colorado earlier this month to kick off the 2019 season with a weekend of camping, gravel racing, and plenty of suffering to go around. We’ve both been deep in the world of work this spring so it was great to emerge from our laptop black holes and spend a whole weekend outside, out of service, and totally off the grid. 

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We were promised a wild course at Roll Mossif’s inaugural Wild Horse gravel race and boy, did they deliver. This incredibly beautiful and challenging 70+ mile race had a little bit of everything. From bumpy gravel roads to vibrant red dirt to giant ruts that would sneak up on you for an “oh crap!” moment about every mile or so. Wild Horse had it all. We both rode our Firefly CycloGravel adventure bikes and they were the perfect choice for this mixed terrain kind of riding.

Wild Horse is part of Colorado’s newest series of gravel events put on by Roll Massif and it’s going to be a regular stop on the Bitchn Grit schedule after such a fun race this year. The whole event is hosted on a private ranch just east of Palisade, Colorado and takes the more casual “segment racing” approach to gravel that I’ve come to love. Instead of racing from start to finish, there were two timed sections to throw down on. After finishing each segment, Dani and I could stop and hang out for a little, regroup, and then roll out to enjoy the ride together. This is the best way to start the season, a little racing to get the competitive juices flowing but plenty of fun to remember what this whole racing thing is all about.

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The first timed segment, the shorter of the two, was about 5 miles long and mostly uphill. There was a short, treacherous descent about halfway through and then finished with a leg-shattering steep kicker just for fun. Dani and I both kicked out some cobwebs on this section, reminding ourselves what it feels like to go that deep. Finishing strong, we snagged the two fastest women’s times on the day.

After gathering ourselves at the top, we head off for a spirited ride. Super steep descents and rugged, rut-filled roads had us both checking ourselves and reminding each other that we weren’t racing this part. But just because you’re not racing doesn’t mean the course isn’t difficult. Dani and I were huffing and puffing our way through the first half or the race, just imagining what was to come on the second half with the dreaded long climb segment to come.

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Thankfully, there was a great aid station halfway through the race with snacks, drinks, extra sunscreen, and Oreos to float our spirits. We fueled up and then set off to knock out the second half of the day, the one with a 15-ish mile uphill timed segment that I think we were both dreading. But we pedaled along with friends which made the miles pass faster and faster until we hit the start of the segment. From there, we both got after it, chasing each other and pushing each other to dig a little deeper.

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We both finished that segment completely shattered. Coasting down the final descent and then creeping across the finish line, we immediately sniffed out the post-race cookout that featured the most delicious BBQ as well as some much needed beers. It was quite the day of riding out there and we were ready sit back and relax and take in the gorgeous countryside views. It was also time to win some cowboy hats for going 1-2 for the overall podium. Not a bad way for the team to kick things off this season.

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Up next, we have some exciting events and trips planned. I’m heading to Kansas to attempt the 350-mile Dirty Kanza XL on the least amount of training that anyone has ever done before. OK, maybe that’s an overstatement but it sure feels like it after this nutsy spring of travel and little bike riding. Dani has some mountain bike races coming up and then we both head to Steamboat to see what we can do at the exciting and fiercely competitive SBTGV gravel race in Steamboat Springs. Emily is on a bikepacking mission this summer and we’ll all be setting out for some nights in the woods together with scary stories and s’mores in tow.

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It’ll be cross season and crummy cross weather before we know it. So now is the time to bask in the Colorado sun, get the big miles in, and enjoy the opportunities that summer always seems to bring. It’s going to be a big year. Better buckle up. 

Kristen LeganComment