Eric's brilliant waffle making fueled the fun. Tuning in with 60km to go, there was plenty of time to enjoy and experiment with breakfast, with waffles and Nutella becoming the favorite combination of the morning. Tom Boonen's move off the front with Geraint Thomas and others caused a bit of a murmur, but with so many big names still in the hunt and not far behind, we were still focused on our food. When the groups combined, it got quiet, and Nikki Terpstra's attack from 6km out lit up the room. It was a great show, and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone more deserving than the reigning Dutch time trial championship.
Our own ride lucked out, with the rains holding off and letting us stretch our legs a bit. We boasted a soon-to-be dirty dozen rolling off toward the gravel, enjoying some smooth and soggy asphalt before hitting the soft stuff. The infamous There Will Be Blood route made it's first appearance of the season, and proved yet again that there needn't be a ton of climbing to be very, very tough. Eli Brown sniffed setting a record on the course, with groups rolling in covered in a mud and sand after a very enjoyable effort over the gravel roads. There Will Be Blood starts it's weekly slot this Saturday.
On the nerdy side of things, the ride brought out all sorts of bikes to tackle the wet, the potholes, and the soft mud of the route. Chief amongst them was Tim Pulliam's brand new Salsa Warbird Ti. Equipped with 33 Clements and ZIPP 303s, as well as some fancy carbon all over, it's a 19 pound rig with an extremely forgiving ride. The fatigue of potholes and rough roads can add up fast, and the more relaxed geometry of the Warbird certainly goes a long ways in keeping its rider feeling fresh hours into the ride.
Ryan Kennedy opted for his tried-and-true Focus Raven. An early adopter of 2.35 Schwalbe tires, he really likes to hold a wide foot print. It does a lot for ride quality, and provides a stable platform over the rough and loose gravel, especially when the most jarring of impacts are often hidden under mud puddles.
The popular ride for the day was the Focus Mares CX 1.0. Both Jason Whittaker and Jim Picotte pulled out their carbon cyclocross rigs, with 33m tires, 3T Ergo bars, Prologo saddles and one of the smoothest rides available.
There are so many options and set-ups, and it's really a marvel to see what works for different people. Join us for the ride, get some gravel on your knuckles and check out all the sweet rigs.
The next race on the radar is the HellKaat Hundie in Holland, Michigan. That's April 19th, a week ahead of the Rust Shaker, in Harrison, Michigan. It'll be the first true mountain bike race, and we have about ten folks heading town for the race. The rides and races are coming thick and fast now, so be sure to check our calendar to stay up to date.