“Are you doing Hungry Bear tomorrow?” one coworker asks another over breakfast.
My head snaps up from my banana waffles.
“That’s not this weekend. I signed up for that.”
“Yes it is…”
I frantically change my weekend plans (gravel race > wedding dress) and check in with my teammate that I’m meeting at the race to make sure I still have a place to stay (Thanks, Tim & Odia!). When I get home from work, I manage to throw a bunch of race stuff in my car, and hit the road by 4:30.
Three and a half hours of driving later, I meet up with the crew at Garemesch for the legendary Fish Fry Friday, where the taxidermy is gauche and there’s boat parking out back (on the lake). Ahh, Wisconsin.
We head back to Tim and Odia’s cabin where we organize our gear for the next morning. For those of you who don’t know, my current gravel bike is my geared cyclocross bike – a 2009 Scott CX that I bought for a couple hundred bucks from a med student who didn’t have time to race anymore. Since upgrading the drivetrain to a 1-by setup, switching out the tires, and scoring some sweet Mini Motos from Paul Components, it has served me well! For this race, I’m carrying my flat kit in a small saddle bag, some food (Pop Tarts, a Pro Bar, Jolly Ranchers), and the cue sheet in my top tube bag, two water bottles on the frame, and my small Camelbak with some additional snacks and empty space to store any layers I remove. Considering I packed for this trip in about 30 minutes, I’m pleased with my setup and the fact that I remembered everything!
My teammate, Mariah, and I wake up the next morning to a misty fog over the lake and the sound of frogs chirping. Living in St. Paul, I sometimes forget how quiet mornings can be.
We roll up our sleeping bags, kit up, and hop in our cars to grab some coffee and breakfast in town before the race. Even though my GI system hates caffeine (IBS blehhhh), I order a half-caf latte. Today, I deserve caffeine, poop-related consequences be damned.
As someone who is incredibly directionally-challenged and had never done a gravel race before, my plan was to stick with Mariah throughout the day so I didn’t get lost. Unfortunatelly, due to illness, Mariah had to drop out of the race early on texting me, “go on without me.” I stopped and debated turning around. I have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and GAD (General Anxiety Disorder). Traveling, bike racing, and unexpected changes in plans are some of my main triggers. When I have a panic attack, I usually get really sick and start throwing up. This time last year, there was absolutely no way I would have made it this far into the trip without having a panic attack. I took it as a sign that I should keep going and finish the damn thing. S/o to my brain chemistry sponsor, Prozac.