SBT GRVL had everything. The community turned out, and it was a great day on the bike. I hope I can get into the Black Course next year!
As this is such a destination race, I invited my mom out from Ohio to see what gravel racing is all about. My only other bike race was Ned Gravel, so I was very excited to see the differences between a relatively minimally-budgeted race and one of the big kahunas; I wasn't disappointed. Friday I went on the Chamois Butt'r Shakeout Ride with Marley Blonsky and I was impressed with the number of riders participating. I was also amazed at all the beautiful gravel bikes.
In terms of the race: the course was night-and-day easier than Ned Gravel; I see what they mean now when they say "Champagne of Gravel". The roads were mostly hardpack dirt that rolled quite easily under my GravelKing SK 700x38 tires, and the climbs were short and not nearly as steep as the climbs I have been training on in the Boulder area. Because of the less technical terrain, I was really able to notice how much I enjoy pacelining. I have never really pacelined with anyone off-road before this event; most of my training is solo. Obviously it's nice to ride in someone's slipstream, but it turns out I really like being on the front as well. I spent a decent amount of time on the front of various groups (even got some pictures to prove it), and even accidentally dropped a pretty sizeable group at one point. I started to notice gray clouds a couple hours before finishing, and beating the storm became my new goal. After the last aid station the pros on the Black Course started coming past me, and they were FLYING. I attempted to ride on a TotalEnergies rider's wheel down a hill, and I'm not even sure I lasted a minute. And that was pretty close to the end of his 140-mile race. It was all going pretty perfectly until the last 10km or so, when electrolyte depletion really started to catch up to me. I avoided the electrolyte mix at the aid stations because it contained honey, and I didn't get enough through my nutrition, as I had hoped. I started to experience charlie horses if I tried to push any watts at all, so I kind of just had to stay in the saddle and spin zone 2 for the last 5-10km.
I did manage to finish about 20 minutes before it started to rain, and it rained extremely hard, so that was great. I didn't really have a goal, but under 6 hours seemed pretty good to me. Next race is BWR Utah, and I will get the electrolytes right.