Thursday, May 11, 2017

2017 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder Event Recap

Anti-epic scenery, including endless miles of Easter Colorado prairie and gravel roads, is par for the course during the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder. Photo: Ben Welnak
On Saturday, May 6, 2017, the RMCC continued the tradition of the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder, an event founded by founder, Ben Welnak, in 2012. The AntiEpic Gravel Grinder, as the name implies, is not classic, EPIC Colorado riding. There are no grueling high alpine climbs or breathtaking mountain vistas. In spite of its name, the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder is never short on pastoral Eastern Colorado scenery. Rolling grasslands, picturesque mesas, and miles and miles of endless gravel roads are the norm for the day. Throughout the day, participants also have striking views of the snow-capped Pikes Peak to the southwest while riding with a myriad of wildlife, including pronghorn, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, pheasants, skunks, and badgers.

For 2017, the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder became slightly more epic in nature. The course was lengthened from 168 miles to 200 miles, including a new out-and-back spur through the scenic Castlewood Canyon State Park to the east of Castle Rock before rejoining the original course in the Greenland Open Space. By reaching the double century barrier, the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder is included in this year's alluring Colorado Triple Crown, the RMCC's series of timed double century road cycling tours. The AntiEpic Gravel Grinder also becomes the only gravel road double century on the UltraMarathon Cycling Association's (UMCA) UltraCycling Cup and now serves as the perfect "tune-up" (although perhaps even slightly more difficult tune-up given the altitude and miles of sand and washboard) for the Dirty Kanza 200, undoubtedly the world's premier gravel road cycling race.
And off they go like blazing saddles! Intrepid short course riders charge onto the AntiEpic course. Photo: Mark Lowe
Two courses were once again offered to this year's participants: an anti-epic 200-mile long course with 11,000+ feet of climbing and an (extremely popular) mini-anti-epic short course, featuring 76-miles and 5,600+ feet of climbing. Both courses start and end in Woodmoor, CO (elevation 7,240 feet), traveling north through the Greenland Open Space and returning through the scenic northern perimeter of the Black Forest. During the return route to Woodmoor, participants from both events are tested by a constant barrage of steep rollers and demoralizing southwesterly headwinds. 

Mother Nature was about as cooperative as she could be for early May in Eastern Colorado. This year's event had mild temperatures in the low 70s and beautiful, turquoise skies early, which gave way to unexpected thundershowers that developed in the foothills to the west of Monument and Colorado Spring during the afternoon, producing punishing southwesterly headwinds. Long course riders were especially throttled by the gusty winds during their long, already difficult 86-mile mostly uphill (7,000+ feet of elevation gain) return from Deer Trail, the course's easternmost check point. With two events running simultaneously, this was by far our largest Challenge Series event to date!  This year's event had 16 brave-hearted long course starters and 51 short course starters. Congratulations to all of this year's participants! 

After a blazing start, short course riders stop briefly at he first check point along CR 102 and Maul Rd. (Photo: Mark Lowe)
For complete results: 2017 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder Results

2017 AntiEpic Gravel Grinder event summary:

  • Long course: 200 miles, 11,000+ feet of climbing. Time limit: 20 hours
  • Short course: 76 miles, 5,600 feet of climbing. Time limit: 9 hours


Short Course:
  • 57 pre-registered riders, 2 riders who registered day of event, 2 long course registrants switched to the short course prior to the start. 
  • 51 ride starters, 50 official finishers (98% finishing rate) successfully completed the course in less than 9 hours (>8.4 m.p.h.), 1 DNF, 4 early withdrawals, 6 DNS. Of the riders who started, 49 men, 2 women.
  • Congratulations to Brad Mosier and Chris Beaudin who finished neck-and-neck, with Brad throwing his bike over the finish line just ahead of Chris in a blazing time of 4 hours, 9 minutes (average speed 18.5 mph). (It was close! I had to review the video finish several times to determine that Brad had finished first). Brad and Chris's finishing time of 4 hours, 9 minutes is a new course record, beating Kevin Masten's previous best time of 5 hours, 3 minutes (2016). 
  • Congratulations to Kimberly Ober, who posted the fastest woman's time of the day: 5 hours, 54 minutes (13.0 mph). Kimberly was paced by her hubby, super-domestique, Keith Ober. Kimberly's time is a new woman's course record, topping Jane Fredman's time of 6 hours, 14 minutes (2016). 
Chris Beaudin and Brad Mosier celebrate at the finish! Congratulations, guys!
Tim Graczyk is satisfied with the third podium spot in the short course division after a blistering ride! Great ride, Tim!
Long course second place finisher, Tim Dodge (a.k.a, Dodger), spent over $250 for these gloves. But as you can clearly see, they are worth every penny!! 
Long Course:
  • 21 pre-registered riders, 2 long course registrants switched to the short course prior to the start. 
  • 16 ride starters, 10 official event finishers (63% finishing rate) successfully completed the AntiEpic long course in less than 20 hours (>10 m.p.h). Please note the long-course time limit was extended from 19 hours to 20 hours based on finishing times of the fastest riders, 6 DNFs, 3 DNS. Of the riders who started, 15 men, 1 brave-hearted woman! There were also 3 volunteer pre-ride finishers. 
  • Caleb Carl posted the speediest time of the inaugural double century event, posting a time elapsed time of 13 hours, 33 minutes (14.8 mph). Congratulations, Caleb! 
  • Alas, there were no female finishers this season.
Special thanks to this year's volunteers for providing support for this season's event. We cannot run these events in their current timed format without volunteer help! Thanks to Nat Schub, Josh Peter, Corinne Warren, Walter Zitz, and Mark Lowe for a long day of supporting riders! 

Caleb Carl speedily survives his first gravel road double century and professes his newfound love of gravel!  Great ride, Caleb!
Dodger spent the day chasing Caleb but is definitely well-prepared for the Dirty Kanza 200. Congrats on completing your first Triple Crown event, Tim! Kick-ass at the DK200! 
Seasoned Triple Crown veteran, Steve Rudolph, made a smooth transition onto grave roads to complete this year's AntiEpic Gravel Grinder. 
After being throttled by headwinds and hampered by a strained back, Triple Crown and DK200 veteran, Tom Miller. is able to muster a smile (for a brief moment) at the conclusion of the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder!

Ryan Franz, with only 300+ miles in his legs for the season, casually busts out a gravel road double century. One word to describe Ryan: Machine! Great ride, Ryan!
Kieran Johnson rolls in just after sunset to complete the AntiEpic Gravel Grinder. Nice ride, Kieran!
Chris Baker is still smiling at the conclusion of the ride after being throttled by headwinds and then being forced to take shelter in a barn during an evening lightning storm. 
Triple Crown newbie, Ricardo Stephen, is exhausted but happy to have survived his first AntiEpic Gravel Grinder and first Colorado Triple Crown event. Congratulations! 
Josh Peter, recovering from the previous weekend's TransIowa race, spends the day chillin' with Walter Zitz  while providing support to this year's long course riders! (Photo: Walter Zitz)