Funky Times!!! – 1st Single Speed 100K

Funky Times!

I got my FUNK on at the Funk Bottoms Gravel Grinder. This was the second time that I have ventured over to the Funk Bottoms. The first time was quite the challenge and the second time didn’t disappoint. It rained an inch or so the day before, so I knew it would be similar to my race in 2015.

First, I want to send out a high five to Chris (race director) and his gang for another spectacular experience. They continue to put on a true grassroots race in the Funk Bottoms Gravel Grinder. No entry fee, a challenging course, scenic and super sweet prizes for the winners of each category. If you haven’t ventured over to the Mohican area in Ohio then you are missing a treat.

I originally signed up for the 200k but I decided to do it on my single speed mountain bike, so I changed over to the 100k distance. Lesson learned…don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. Even though I won the 100k single speed division, it was a strenuous effort trying to spin that machine up 20+% grades with 2.0 tires. I was very pleased with my suffering and look forward to my next race.

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The Funk Bottoms Gravel Grinder has grown over the years and this year there were nearly 100 entrants and ~80 towed the line. The course is bit more than 100k at ~70 miles with 7000 feet of climbing. If you decide to do the 200k then you get to do the course twice! It is constant climbing with grades that will make you want to punch your own face repetitively with brass knuckles. Due to the heavy rains the day before, the course was soft for tire plowing, resistance training bonus. I rode most of the day solo, which allowed me to take in more of the surroundings. You ride through Amish country and it is beautiful, almost pristine. You ride along the Mohican River and traverse back and forth over very hilly terrain. There was very little traffic other than a few horse and buggies (like going back in time) along this course, which allows you to focus more on your effort. During the course it is very likely that you will be hike-a-biking at some point. On this day we were rewarded with a huge downed tree that required a quick jungle trek only to be followed up with a wet and rutted out one mile climb up double track that had very limited tread purchase. Lots of people were hike-a-biking that section. It is a challenge and that is why it is labeled as Ohio’s Toughest Gravel Grinder.

If you are around north central Ohio around the end of June, you should go test yourself on this course. Chris puts on a stellar event that you will remember. Everyone out on course was super chill and respectful. The well marked course travels through some very scenic areas and there is no entry fee.

Thanks to all of the volunteers that were at the start/finish and the aid station.

Thanks to my sponsors as always for keeping me outfitted with stellar products that see me through whatever is thrown my way!

Now it is time to head west and enjoy some vacation time with my lady while enjoying those libations.

Cheers!

 

1st at Funk Bottoms Gravel Grinder

A true cycling race award!

A true cycling race award!

Welcome to Ohio! The best way to adapt to a new environment is to get out and race, I say. The Funk Bottoms Gravel Grinder (Ohio’s Toughest Gravel Grinder) takes place south of Cleveland in the Mohican Wilderness out of a little town called Lakeville, OH. I must say that Ohio has some legit climbing. I thought I would be finding myself struggling to find some climbing here but all is in good order as the Funk gave me plenty. I signed up for the 200k but that was relegated to a 100k before the start after the area received a torrential downpour and flooding was a real threat. I had to get up early around 4:20 and make my way north for almost 3 hours. The interstate was flooded…a little fish tailing here and a little fish tailing there if you know what I mean. I made it none the less with about a half hour to prep in the rain. Not much talking at the pre-race meeting as everyone was huddled under the roof of a park picnic area. Im sure they were like me wondering what in the world am I doing here…this is going to be a bit insane. In other words it wasn’t the most ideal day to be out racing. We started off in a controlled lead out for the first 2 miles and made a right turn onto gravel that went UP. The race was on and I got in the lead group and pushed the pace on the first of many steep climbs. After about 3 or 4 miles, a guy from Indiana was with me on his cross bike. I chose to ride the Niner Air Carbon mountain bike that I recently finished building up. We chatted off and on…nice guy. Not long into the race as we were descending the pitchy course, I noticed that my handlebars were loose. I was like…what…for real!!! I continued on by applying pressure to the bars in order to stabilize them in the stem mounting cup as I went speeding down the bumpy, washed out and slippery gravel roads at high speeds. Once I realized that my wishing them to retighten on their own wasn’t going to happen and that I would have to tighten them or risk a nasty crash. At mile 20 we came through the little town of Killbuck. As I continued to race, I proceeded to unfasten my GPS and place it in my mouth. I then removed my tool kit and tightened the stem cap bolts. Once all was back snug and my tool kit was put away, I replaced my GPS back to its mount and continued on as if nothing had ever happened. That takes skill people. My fellow racer from Indiana and I continued to go up and down for the first 30 miles together as the rain continued to be unrelentless. The gravel roads were soft and plowing the muck we were. We made a turn and the gravel went up up up. As I made my way along and pedaled steady, I looked back and he was gone. At that moment a dog came out to greet me with a snarling attitude. Now that I was on my own, I continued to move along the course as I knew there was a checkpoint coming up that was put in place to make sure that no one cut the course. I arrived at the checkpoint and signed in. I refilled my water and dropped off my rain jacket…it was useless by this point as I was soaked through and covered in grit and mud. I spent a few minutes there chatting with the race support guy and then off I went with about 2o miles or so to the finish. The climbs just kept coming and coming. I thought the course had 3500 feet of climbing but as it turns out it had over 7000 feet. Thats a lot of climbing over a 63 mile course, especially in the rain and mud. I looked back here and there and never saw anyone in the distance, so I kept the same tempo. After a few downed tree crossings from the early morning storms, I made my final turn that would lead me to the finish. I started backing off and just coasted in to the finish. My legs were slammed. Two minutes later, Chris Karpowicz came flying in to the finish for 2nd place. 20150627_130507_resized Chris is the race director and a super nice guy. He is really into the gravel scene. I was presented a case of Yuengling Beer and the winners plaque. I must say it was a tough race, especially with the conditions that were present and the climbing that caught me off guard. Chris put on a great and challenging event. The course was marked very well and the volunteers were all smiles. I would put this one on your calendar for next year if you dig gravel racing but be ready as it is no cakewalk. The course is absolutely beautiful as you climb and descend through some beautiful forest and farmlands. I do believe I will have plenty of solid racing and riding here in Ohio. All smiles!

Haven't seen one of these in a while.

Haven’t seen one of these in a while.

Cheers