Race Report – Saluda Roubaix – Chris Spurrier
This report is seeming to be a little harder to write, after all, it was basically a training ride for me. When we were planning out my DK training plan I was looking for a few events that I could use to test and validate strategy, pace, logistics, and fitness. This race, in its second year, was a great opportunity to test much of this. In addition, it was an opportunity to connect with several teammates who would be out at DK with me. So what about the race?
Grassroots I think sums up the event pretty well. Very low key but well laid out and fun course. The overall goal was to simply push a faster-sustained pace for the duration, and thanks to a little help I was able to do so, and have fun at the same time. Nestled west of Columbia South Carolina we camped out at a small baseball field. We pre-rode a little of the course and enjoyed some great food. We woke up in plenty of time for the 1000 start where about 200 people circled around the start line.
Quietly I heard a “go” and next thing I know we were off on a slight downhill pavement section. 30 mins in we were sprinting to stay on with the lead group and shortly loose touch. Just then the second wave comes blowing by and we settle in picking up stragglers and forming a third group. My legs were screaming and I am was looking for a little recovery as I look at my IF and realize that we were pretty much-maintaining threshold for the first full hour.
We settled in and roll up to the first aid station, realizing we were good on nutrition we just roll by and stay on the gas. Working with Keith we start doing public math and established our goals for the race (better late than never?). We quickly realize that we were in a good spot and set our 40 and 50-mile goals knowing the last 18 would be easy to push through. The theme Saturday was that this race was more Roubaix then gravel, as we rolled through mile 40 we realized that this wasn’t truly the case. We worked together to get to the second aid station and roll in prepared to fill the bottles and go. In under two minutes, we were back on track and heading for the 50-mile mark. We knew to hit 4 hrs we had to stay on track and keep a constant pace. At this time though we were happy to see breaks in the gravel. Getting on pavement provided just enough relief to recover and maintain the grind.
Coming into that last 18 we were caught by a small group and we start working with them. My legs were sore, but Keith pushed me to stay connected and rolled fast for about five miles catching another couple of riders. As I am looking around, I realize I now have three competitors with us while Keith didn’t have any. We were taking pulls and I pulled Keith off after a minute and follow suit. As I got to the back we made a strategy to break the group. We hit the second to last gravel section and as we pulled through we hit a right-hand turn about four miles out.
I was on Keith’s wheel and the leaders pull out, Keith goes into the turn and cranks it up. Quickly there is confusion, I didn’t even know what was going on. I jumped back on his wheel and said too soon. Right then we both look back and realize no one else followed suit so we buried our heads down and went. The rest of the race was uneventful, we didn’t see anyone else and came in under four hours. We were both fairly gassed but feeling good about the effort we put out on the day.
The goal was to push a pace faster than Nationals and check out some new gear. Keith flew in the day before from South Africa and had pretty bad jet lag. All of this concluded in a great race in a small town pushing ourselves and testing the limits. Thank you so much to Keith for staying with me through the event. Thanks to Christina for riding shotgun and spending that quality windshield time with me. KyleCoaching for the continued guidance and mentorship, and of course all the teammates and new friends for the hospitality and fun. I feel confident and ready to tackle my first Dirty Kanza in less than four weeks.