The Camino205 – A challenging 205 mile Gravel Grinder in scenic NE Texas, with 205, 105 and 25 mile options, held on October 4, 2014. This report comes to Gravel Cyclist courtesy of the Ride Director himself, Mr Dave Morrow. Unfortunately, yours truly (JOM) couldn’t make Dave’s awesome event, as I was busy being smashed by Iron Cross XII in Pennsylvania. I hope to see you in 2015, Mr Morrow.
Camino205, October 4 – The Rest of the Story
By Dave Morrow, Ride Director
There is an old saying in bike racing: “You make your own luck.” I remember well the prestigious mountain bike race where I came in second, because my front derailleur cable frayed and broke over the course of the race. I was passed in the last two miles while I was stuck in my small front chain ring and could not go fast enough. My bad ‘luck’, was actually my failure to identify that the cable was suspect and replace it before the race. I made my own luck and did not win. Sometimes there are greater forces than ourselves that decide things.
For the inaugural Camino205 gravel grinder, in Palestine, TX, Lady Luck was with us. Or perhaps the weather god Zeus was smiling upon us. However it happened, on race day we lucked out – it was about 60 degrees when we started, with light winds and sunny skies, warming into the low 80s. Two days later a front blew in, dumped three inches of rain in five hours, and then continued with light rain for the rest of the day. If we had been riding then, it could have been a muddy muddy affair. That’s Texas for you.
I have known about Gravel Grinding as an organized sport for some years. Riding gravel or dirt roads always appealed to me – my pals and I often use dirt roads on our road bikes as ways to connect loops. Riding dirt roads on skinny tires is a tradition in Europe – just look at the old pictures of the Giro d’Italia, and the current Strada Bianchi racing. But it was only last winter when my old pal Moodster and I decided throw down and plot a really cool event. We wanted to top the Dirty Kanza, which is 200 miles, so we went for a 205 mile loop. We hunted all over the state to find a potential riding area that had decent roads, few people, and was within a reasonable distance for working stiffs to participate. The area around Palestine has it all, PLUS, a very hospitable town that is both quaint and historic. I can see Palestine becoming the heart of the New Hill Country – watch out Kerrville!
Months before the actual ride day, there are many hours of preparation work. While riders are training and dialing in equipment, organizers are preparing logistics, mapping routes, finding caterers and suppliers, securing permits and sponsors, and answering a cascade of emails. When race day dawns like the crack of a pool cue, the organizers better be ready, because there is no second chance. You make your own luck. For this, our first year, we were super-lucky to have the full support of the City of Palestine and plenty of logistical help, including getting me up to speed on social media! For the riders, it never hurts to prepare the engine, so a catered meal in old town Palestine, with plenty of free beer on Friday night, set the tone for the next day.
This year, only six riders actually clipped in Saturday at the 6:00 a.m. start line for the 205. After a long day in the saddle; four would finish under their own power. Bob Cummings, a well-know Kansas rider sponsored by American Classic, completed the distance in a course record of 12:15. The next finisher came in about 4 hours later. The final two finishers, who were beyond the 10:00 p.m. cutoff time, came in at 1:25 a.m. Sunday morning in good spirits.
So what about the two lost souls who never made it home? These Dallas boys had the correct spirit – they carried a full bottle of wine, plenty of food, and were out for a good time. At mile 125 one of the duo broke a pedal, still soldiering on for about 20 miles, pedaling with one leg. While they were resting, drinking said wine and feeding a stray dog some of their food, a friendly farmer stopped and offered them a ride. They jumped in and made it back to Palestine in time for last call at the local watering hole. Dallas boys won’t waste a Saturday night on a bet!
In the 105 distance, a fairly competitive group rode together for many miles. While Oklahoma 16-year old Austin ‘The Mighty Salmon’ Morris, and his American Classic team mate ‘Motor’ Monica Ward’ set a course record of 6:48, most other riders finished within minutes of them. A few riders got lost, a few gave up and headed to the barn, but the attrition rate was below 10%. And, the day was topped off with unlimited plates of delicious food, prepared by Bishop’s Brisket House. Like Friday night, the free flowing beer, provided by Ben E. Keith, the local Michelob distributor, did not make anyone sad.
At the end, riders uniformly praised the course in general, cursed the sandy road stretches, loved the food and camaraderie, and swore to come back next year. For my part as organizer, what more can I ask for? This is some good luck!
Dave Morrow believes in peace, love, and fresh derailleur cables.