Adventure Bike race 10:42:00  111.4 mi (10.4 mph)
I have wanted to do this event in Minnesota for 4 years or so. This was the first year my work schedule would allow it. It has been held in Spring Valley, MN since 2007 (I believe). It was started by a fellow named Chris, and then he passed it onto the Chamber of Commerce for a couple years or so, then it landed back on his plate again. Something happened with his relationship with the town, and he moved it to Northfield MN this year, with new routes. And a week or so before the event, he declared it a "ride", not a "race" (the entry fee has always been the price of mailing a post card, although you could register on line this year). Some people (on line) were SO pissed that it would no longer be a timed event. Having done a couple other grassroots events that relied on Strava posts for participants to see how they stacked up against other riders, I didn't see what the big deal was.
In addition to the 100 mile version, there is also a 50 mile, a 160 mile and a 320+ mile version. We signed up for the 100 mile, with the small print saying we'd do the 160 miler if everything lined up for us. We felt good about our training, but the weather forecast was pretty gross. The weather on the Friday was fine, but it was supposed to rain Friday night/Saturday. And not be warm. We downloaded both the 100 and 160 mile versions on our Garmins, and decided to see how it went.
Since it wasn't a "race", the organizer was fine with us starting extra early in the morning (mathematically, working together to average 12 mph, we'd need all the time we could get, to do 160 miles). There were thunderstorms in the night, and one more was supposed to come through between 6 and 7 am. We started about 5:30 am. Yup, a thunderstorm came through. With fairly biblical rain. We rode on....about 10 miles of heavy rain. Neoprene kayak gloves, ShowersPass rain jacket and a freshly-waterproofed fleecy cap with a brim did the trick. Neoprene shoe covers might have helped, but SealSkin socks made it bearable. Paul was fairly miserable, mostly due to soaking wet and freezing feet. He talked about putting some duct tape around the top of his shoe covers but didn’t do it, so the rain just pooled in his shoes (and his ShowersPass socks needed some back up support). That hung over us all day.
About 35 miles in, the first of the riders who "officially" started at 7 am passed us. They started after the rain had stopped. The wet gravel sucked at my tires and I kept looking down to see if I had a flat tire. The hills were never-ending.....Barry-Roubaix scope, but on steroids. And the east wind was pretty stiff ( we're used to wind, but it is hard on the average forward speed). About 50 miles in, we checked our average speed, and decided to switch to the 100 mile route. We weren't the only ones who went prepared with 2 routes and switched part way through (the 2 routes were the same to somewhere in the 50-mile range).
After we made that decision, we had a couple breaks to eat the pizza we brought with us. And we enjoyed the Trail Magic along the way (a shot of Kentucky bourbon on a somewhat empty stomach isn't something I'd advise, but I beat Paul up the next hill quite handily). We were back and forth all day.....sometimes I was lagging, sometimes he was. Two hills reduced us to walking (and one of the speedy riders who had passed us earlier must have walked up too, as there were bike shoe prints in the dirt already). We saw a LOT of wild turkeys, a couple bald eagles up close (feeding), an insane number of warblers, and hundreds of acres of planted corn fields. And many country churches.
About 2/3 of the way through, we were grinding up a hill and I was praying that I wouldn't have to put a foot down and walk. Then a guy passed me like I was standing still. I suddenly realized that all these guys passing us ride bikes that are huge.....cuz' they have legs about 4' long. That made me laugh for a few minutes.
About 25 miles from the end, we stopped in a small hamlet for a Monster and a bag of chips (and a trip to the washroom facility in the neighbouring park). It was intended to be an unsupported event, but we met a woman out "supporting" her husband (and buddies?) a couple times. Too bad Paul's wife had to go into the C-store and spend time buying snacks LOL.
And we finished in the daylight, well before supper, before the next band of rains came through.
I hope this event lives on in 2020. If you are looking for a challenging gravel race, put this one on your calendar. And if you just have time for a couple miles of gravel grinding fun, check out Shady Lane. And Chainbreaker hill.