My Filthy 50 Experience

As soon as I heard of this new gravel race, The Filthy 50 back in June I knew I wanted in.  The Dirty Lemming was supposed to be my first gravel race but a scheduling conflict at my job kept me from being able to compete in it.  So, I jumped at the chance to compete in The Filthy 50 and registered right away.  I was really looking forward to it because I knew it would be challenging with elevation changes and a very scenic ride, too.

I immediately got in touch with race founder and organizer Trenton Raygor because I wanted to do whatever I could to get the word out and help make it a success.  The concept of a 50 mile gravel race with a good amount of climbing could attract many cyclist to try a gravel grinder that may otherwise feel a gravel century race beyond their abilities.   After seeing the large turn out on race day and hearing all the talk from other first time gravel racers, Trenton had something special going on here.

I have been riding the gravel roads near my home pretty regularly since last summer so I knew I would be ready for whatever The Filthy 50 would throw my way.  I stopped by the Penn Cycle tent and got a quick shifter adjustment and talked with Penn Cycle president/Filthy 50 sponsor, Pat Sorensen before the race where he introduced me to fellow blogger Josh Peterson ("Full On").

After a quick briefing and rundown of the rules from Trenton it was time for the roll-out to the starting line.

The dry Filmore county gravel made for a dusty ride and now I know why Trenton named it The Filthy 50.  Before the race was over my bike and I would be covered in a layer of white gravel dust.

My goal was to finish under 3½ hours so I kept riding only to stop for a few seconds to snap one photo along the way, the rest of my pictures were taken while riding.  The scenery along the course was a feast for the eyes with its rolling farmland, Fall colors and the weather couldn't have been any better.  Thanks to 2WheelWeather for providing the CycleCast for race day.

I was feeling pretty good and maintaining a solid pace all the way up to about the 30 mile mark where my quads and hamstrings started to cramp up just in time for the big climb on Nature Road.  I wanted to get up out of the saddle and attack that hill but leg cramping kept me seated so I took it slow and steady.  After the big hill the cramping subsided and I was able to get back on pace for the rest of the climb out of the valley.

From here on towards the finish line I held the pace set by Pat Sorensen and Josh Peterson (pictured above) until about mile 45.  I was staying plenty hydrated but fatigue was setting in and I felt like I was running out of steam.  I tried my best to hang with Pat and Josh but they began to slowly put some distance between us.

Once I saw the Stewartville water tower off in the distance, the finish line would come quickly so I kept on rolling with the remaining energy I had left.  I knew I wouldn't make my 3½ hour goal but it would be close and I tried to shave off as many minutes to stay on the short side of that time as I could.  Trenton congratulated me on my finish as I crossed the line and Brad from Race Vista, who had finished the race a few minutes before me, snapped the photo below.

Image Credit:  Brad Boyd, Race Vista

I stuck around and watched as Trenton congratulated every racer as they crossed the line all the way up to the DFL, Andrew Gruhn who made the cut-off with just barely three minutes remaining.

The inaugural running of The Filthy 50 was a huge success and I heard someone ask Trenton if he would do the race again next year and he responded "I kind of have to now."  I would like to thank Trenton and his family, the volunteers and sponsors who made this event a success and helped to introduce gravel racing to a whole new group of cyclists.  I'll see you there next year.

Race Results can be viewed here:  http://thefilthy50.tumblr.com/results

To see all of my photos from The Filthy 50, visit my Flickr photo set.  My Filthy 50 Runtastic Road Bike Pro session with geo-tagged photos of the course can be seen here.

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