Feb. 25 – Race Report from Gianluca Ambroglio

Race: Grasshopper Huffmaster Age Group 30-39
Date: February 25, 2023
Result: 24 / 48
Course: Gravel – 90miles. Completed in 6 hours

Hi All,
This was probably one of the hardest gravel race I have ever done where mud and snow for 90 miles took over all the fun of the event. On top of that, there was a constant chill headwind! 89 registered in my category, 48 finished and I finished in 24th place.

I’ve done this race last year and I knew what to expect. Before I discovered (and experienced) the tricky muddy conditions, my strategy was to stay with the first group, covered in the draft until the first climb at mile 45. Unfortunately at the first gravel section (around mile 15), the guy in front of me lost control and pushed me and many other on the side of the road loosing contact with the first 10people. We were not able to catch back on them unfortunately. We tried to organize with all group to take turns and try to push to get to the first riders but only 5 of us (in a group of about 15 riders) were able to collaborate. To add on that the muddy sections were very tricky to tackle: as soon as you were able to gain speed, there was a section immediately after that would slow you down. Your wheels would just go deep into the gravel/mud, and you had to push hard to get out. Difficult to stay covered in draft, difficult to hold a wheel in front as I was always looking for the best line to take to avoid loosing control of the bike.
With that being said I was able to stay with the 2nd fastest group until the last climb at mile 75. Completely unexpected, this final climb had 2 miles up (avg of 7%) and 3 miles down that were completely off the bike! It was impossible to ride the bike because the mud was so sticky to not let the wheels to turn. My feet were like snowshoes covered in mud. In this section I lost about 10 positions. I wasn’t ready for it, the bike had an additional 25pounds of mud that made lifting it or putting on the shoulders very difficult.
The nutrition plan has been nailed down: 4 bottles with 90grams of carbs each, 4 gels, 1 pack of chews. Overall a nice event but I definitely enjoyed more last year with sunny and warmer conditions.
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