BY THE NUMBERS WITH ALISON TETRICK – GRAPES OF WRATH
Lezyne ambassador extraordinaire Alison Tetrick had a pretty successful season this year. Among other things, she went to the Pan American Championships, won the Dirty Kanza 200 setting a new course record and is the 2017 Gravel World Champion. So how does this elite athlete celebrate going into the off-season? She does the 138-mile Grapes of Wrath road/gravel/dirt ride just outside of Bakersfield, California. And if that wasn’t enough she followed it up with a 60-mile birthday ride the next day with fellow Lezyne ambassador Neil Shirley.
Here’s a look at her numbers recorded from her Lezyne Enhanced Super GPS and uploaded to our GPS Root website. We also talked to her about the overall experience of doing a ride with a 34-mile long climb.
– Distance: 137.95 miles
– Total Ascent: 10,744.75 feet
– Avg. Speed: 15.66 mph
– Ride Time: 8:48:40
Lezyne: How did this event get on your radar? Have you done it before?
Alison: I have an innate ability to sniff out all cool events that involve a little gravel in your travel and of course a great after (and before) party. Actually, my friends at Lezyne had asked if I was going to the Grapes of Wrath. I was previously committed to another charity event in Napa, California, but had to pass. Due to the devastating fires, I needed to escape Sonoma County and the Grapes of Wrath was the perfect safety net for a horrendous week.
Lezyne: What was the course like? It seems to have quite the varying terrain, going from the big city of Bakersfield to the Southern Sierras near Isabella Lake and back.
Alison: It had a little something for everyone and was perfectly doable on a road bike with 28mm tires. We started on gravel and entered onto rough roads before heading through Bakersfield. After exiting the outskirts of town, we went on a 34-mile gravel climb. Yes, I should have read the flier before riding that morning. Good thing I stashed an extra breakfast burrito in my pocket and may or may not have had a PBR (or two) hand-up. After cresting the 3-hour climb, it was mainly downhill on pavement for the final 40 miles back into the vineyards. I would say the course had about 90 miles of gravel or dirt and the rest was asphalt.
Lezyne: How many beer hand-ups and selfies did you take?
Alison: Shoot. I’ll just say I took two beer hand-ups, but that was day one. The next day’s ride involved rosé and maybe some tequila in our coffee (more on that below). The selfies were endless and I lost count. I don’t blame any of the hand-ups for this, or do I? The selfies are of epic proportion and I will keep posting them.
Lezyne: What was your bike set-up? How did you maximize performance for the combination of paved roads, a monster dirt climb, some sand and gravel?
Alison: I rode a Cannondale Evo with 28mm tires (Vittoria Rubino G+ Pro Control) and of course my Lezyne multi-tool flat fixing accessories and Enhanced Super GPS. What my bike lacked for the dirt sections it still handled it superbly, and I could fly on the pavement as well. I think I almost had an ideal set-up.
Lezyne: Was the course marked or did you use the turn-by-turn navigation on your Super GPS? What was your main screen selection for the day?
Alison: The course was marked, so I just used my Enhanced Super GPS for mileage and power data. We “followed the bread crumbs” all day, and OK, sometimes just followed that PBR…
Lezyne: Rumor has it there really was only one major climb over the course’s 138 miles and it’s 34 miles long, as you mentioned above, with 30 of those on dirt! That’s most of the 11,000 feet of vertical right there. Looking at the course profile from your Super GPS on our Lezyne GPS Root you climbed from the 3.5-hour mark to the 6.5-hour mark. What was your mental zone for that whopper?
Alison: That was a HUGE climb. Like, seriously, a HUGE climb. My headspace was more focused on hanging with the front group of guys while telling them distracting stories in hope they would slow the pace down. The pace was unrelenting, and my stories only worked for the first 20 miles. The last 14 miles of the climb, I entered a dark place where I began questioning my motives and why I was there. Then like an angel, a PBR showed up, and all was right in the world. We finished the climb with gusto and were ready to fly home for the after-party. I haven’t climbed that duration very often and was impressed with our ability to focus and tap out the miles as we suffered in silence until we needed a distraction. We then entered a new space of discussing life, love and our purpose here on earth. This is what happens when you climb for 34 freaking miles. Things get real. I wouldn’t take a second of it back.
Lezyne: Looking at your power profile, it seems the biggest spikes were at flatter sections of the course. Was there some cat and mouse at times before and after the huge climb?
Alison: I might have needed to keep chasing those fast guys down. Between Neil Shirley, Brian McCulloch and Jon Hornbeck, I was just in a hurt box trying to stay on the wheels. Those guys can motor, and if I got gapped in any of the technical sections I wanted to make sure I stayed with my “convoy”.
Lezyne: While the event name may also be a famous book, it’s really because it starts and finishes on a vineyard. We’re betting there was no whine and a lot of wine post ride…
Alison: I actually don’t think there was any wine but there was everything else. Beer, whiskey, you name it … we were ready for what they had, that’s for sure. The food was incredible every meal and there was no shortage of libations. You can say we were ripe for the harvest, that’s for sure. If I could pay SamBarn Promotions to just live in my front yard, I would be a happy camper. Or maybe I would actually camp?
Lezyne: The next morning, fellow Lezyne ambassador Neil Shirley held his “Shirley you can’t be serious” birthday ride starting from the same location. That must have been 50-plus miles of something…
Alison: It was actually 60 miles. I wore a cut-off t-shirt with Neil’s face on it—we all did. There was beer and wine there and everything else. This ride really sealed the deal of an absolutely “best weekend ever.” People started the ride a little slow, shall I say, but we got rolling back into the beautiful countryside only to enjoy ourselves even more. After the ride, there were piñatas and lake swimming and more crazy fun. I found a family and a community there that I will never forget. I guess now Neil knows I won’t forget his birthday?