2013 Strada Fango Gravel Ride - a video & pictoral review...

Strada Fango 2013:  Epic gravel, with the theme of the day being quad destroying climbs!  Photo Credit:  Kristin Velaski

The ride is done, everyone is accounted for, and 10,000+ calories have been consumed since finishing, and our legs hurt so good this morning after!  Yes, it was a great Strada Fango!  Special thanks to Noah & the Out There crew for putting on the event, and the support out on the course!

Thanks to Cyclova XC team members for sharing the photos featured in this post, but an extra special thanks to Dallas Wynne (who has a real knack for putting together awesome action videos) for putting together the video of the event as seen below.  This video will give you a real good idea what a early Spring hard core gravel event is all about.  Enjoy, and then check out the following photos...

Thanks to Dallas Wynne for putting together this great video on the Strada Fango!  


 
The front end of the "start line" at the 2013 Strada Fango.  Every turn along the course was marked with a wood stake painted orange, as Noah (ride organizer) is showing here.  Photo Credit:  Katie Misner
Gravel rides are all about fun, adventure, and being self sufficient.  Generally, there is no entry fee, no results, minimal (if any) course marking, and minimal aid out on the course.  You need to navigate on your own and take care of yourself.  The 2013 Strada Fango was a classic and very well executed gravel ride!  I'd estimate that about 60 people started the event, which was on a different course than planned (due the much of the original course still being covered in snow).  This year's course was out in the Blue Hills region, east of Rice Lake, WI.  The course was about 70% gravel, 20% pavement, and 5% snow/ice (yes, snow).  Much of the gravel was rather wet and soft, making for hard going and for an epic day in the saddle.

A mile or two into the ride, the lead pack pulls away with hot pace on a nice dry gravel road.  Photo Credit:  Katie Misner


At the front, the ride started with a hot pace, rolling at 22+ mph on the rolling gravel roads.  At about mile 12, we turned onto a snow/slush/water covered road that literally ripped the pack apart, and this is where I totally lost contact with the group.  I was relieved to be joined by fellow Cyclova XC'ers Mitch, Ben, and Adam.  We struggled through the snow, which consisted of walking, but also riding on top of irregular crusty ice (frequently breaking through & struggling to stay vertical) & riding through car tracks with literal rivers of snow melt water running through them.  Many people crashed in this section, which resulted in bloody legs from the abrasive snow/ice on the road surface.  In the end, these conditions were the ultimate test for the drive train of any bike.  I needed to loosen up my chain tension on my All City Nature Boy single speed that I was riding, while others had to make brake adjustments.

A 3.5 mile section of snow (most of it way more snow than this picture shows) made for a really tough 3.5 mile section, with most participants walking the majority of this section.  Photo Credit:  Ben Mullin

Frank & Mitch stop on the side of the road to make a few quick bike adjustments after 3.5 miles of snow, slush, running water, and sand - and to enjoy a refreshing Hamms.  Photo Credit:  Ben Mullin


After the 3.5 mile snow/ice covered section, we were relieved to find some nice gravel and pavement sections and made really good time for a while on nice rolling terrain.  The 75 degree heat felt great and I expect everyone really enjoyed the mid section of the ride. 

Finally, some good, clean gravel after the long section of snow.  Here Keith & Dallas roll it out!  Photo Credit:  Ben Mullin


A soft, long gravel climb with riders in the distance.  Photo Credit:  Ben Mullin


The sign says it all.  For much of the Strada Fango, you were all alone on beautiful lonely roads.  Photo Credit:  Mitch Bruns

Here's Ben at the "U-turn", a "memorable" place for those who rode to it.  Sigh...  Photo Credit:  Ben Mullin

Personally, I grossly underestimated the difficulty of this ride.  It took me 2 hours more to complete it than I expected, and I was under-prepared hydration wise and nutritionally.  I paid for this mistake and battled through 30 miles of severe cramping.  I found myself walking up most hills as my cramping legs couldn't push my single speed bike up the hills.  I found myself looking at the beautiful rushing streams we would cross, craving ice cold water.  I found myself craving a huge calorie bomb (Chef Boyardee Ravioli to be exact).  I found myself simply wanting to be done.  

At one point, following my trusty que sheet, I took a right hand turn and noticed that the next turn was labeled a u-turn.  I assumed this meant a sharp turn onto another road.  So, I walked up one of the biggest hills of the entire race (probably took 10 minutes to walk up it), started descending the other side, and bumped into a grinning Mitch who was shaking his head saying "it really is a u-turn".  I immediately turned around a couple hundred yards shy of the turn (saving myself a bit of walking back up the steep back side of the hill).  The below image was taken at the top of the u-turn hill that I walked up, with another even bigger climb looming in the distance, which we also climbed.  Ouch!

This was the view after the u-turn, after getting back up to the top.  Nothing like back to back categorized climbs...  Photo Credit:  Kristin Velaski

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