The Ragnarok 105 is a 105 mile gravel road race that takes you over many, many 400 foot climbs along the Mississippi Valley near Red Wing, MN. It is a fun race, beautiful course, and hard competition.
Last year went well for me, well mostly. The end result was great.
This year saw lots of strong guys getting ready to line up for the start. Unfortunately, my preride shake down the day before had me feeling very weak. That morning I woke and had to make an immediate entrance into the bathroom to do some reading. This would happen several more times before the start of the race. This was far more than prerace jitters.
The start was pleasant enough. Lots of talking/joking. We hit the first big climb about 4 miles in. My body was not feeling well as we went over climb after climb, but I did my best to keep two that I perceived as my main competition in sight, Joe Meiser and Tim Ek. About 20 miles in there was a split in the large front group on a big climb and our lead group of 7 was formed. This group would contain Tim, Joe, Charlie Farrow, Ryan Horkey, Sean Mailen, John Struchynski, and myself. We worked quickly to form a gap. After a quick pee break on top of a hill we noticed our gap had shrunk some, but we soon grew it more. Joe did a great job of keeping everyone on task and working on a quick pace. This pace plus myself not feeling well had me convinced that I would not stay with the front group until the finish. A little before the halfway point though Joe flatted and the pace would slow without organization. This would be to my benefit as our pace was very moderate for most of the rest of the race. Our checkpoint halfway in was uneventful except I was really wishing I had some caffeine because I was felling crummy. As the race went on I felt better and better, so I devised an attack for the finish.
I knew the last climb and I knew that the last 100 yards of that climb were very steep and then it was almost 5 miles to the finish. I set off from our group on the steep section determined to make it to the top with a gap . This panned out as I reached the top with a very narrow gap over a great climbing Horkey. The big ring was engaged and I was off like a prom dress over the mile on top of the bluff and the descent down the backside. At the bottom I saw Tim and Ryan had joined forces and were in full on chase. Through traffic and stop signs we rode our butts off. Luckily I was not held up too long by any congestion (except a very slow moving car at one point that I could not get around). I ended up holding them off by about 10 seconds for the win. Tim got second and Ryan a very close third.
This is a picture at about 80 miles in. This climb was probably the toughest of them all with it's unrelenting steep pitches. It was demoralizing for all of us to see it from the road in the background. From left to right in the pic is Ryan, Myself, Farrow, Sean, and Ek. John is around there somewhere as well.
Picture maliciously stolen from the Ragnarok blog.
EDIT: ALTHOUGH I DID NOT FEEL WELL MUCH OF THE RACE, I AM POSITIVE THE FINISH OF THE RACE WOULD HAVE BEEN EXACTLY THE SAME HAD I BEEN RIDING GREAT THROUGHOUT. THOSE WERE STRONG GUYS OUT THERE.
Time for you to return back to work.