2017 The Juicy – Sakari’s 100k Gravel Race

Executive Summary:

Race Priority: C
Race Execution: A-

  • About the race: The Juicy is a fun local race that starts and finishes just east of Des Moines, near Altoona, IA.  It is approximately 63 miles in length, with the start and finish at the Thomas Mitchell County Park.  The course has rolling terrain, one B road, travels through the Neil Smith National Wildlife Refuge, and has an opportunity for a stop at a convenience store near Prairie City, IA.
  • What went well:
    • I finished strong with no issues… and this was the first time I’d ridden my fat bike longer than 2 hours at one time.
  • What I could have done better:
    • I probably could have held on to a larger pack earlier in the race, which would have provided me with a bit more drafting help.
  • What I learned:  Gravel fat bike racing is fun!
  • Results:  2nd place finisher in the fat bike division and 13th overall, with a time of 3:54, at an average race speed of around 17.1 mph.  253 NP/ 228 AP / 154 Ave HR / 0.87 IF.  TrainingPeaks activity located here.


  • Breakfast: One Honey Stinger Waffles (160 cals), beet juice (30 cals), one GU (90 cals), and Carbo Pro (200 cals).
  • Race: One bottle of Carbo Pro (200 cals total), 7 GU’s (700 cals total), at around 225 cals/hr.  I carried a Camelbak with around 60 oz of water, drank as needed.

Weather conditions:   The temperature at the start was around 75 degrees and peaked around 77 degrees, with winds 15-20+ mph.  Smoke from distant wildfires drifted in during the ride, making the skies look a bit ominous at times.

Race Report Commentary:

This was an unplanned race in my season, and I signed up the week before the race.  I considered racing the open category, but after seeing several of the local cyclists racing fat bikes at Gravel Worlds in August, I thought it may be interesting to give something different a try.  I got my fat bike in February this year, and had mostly used it for off road riding.  I had commuted to work with it once, which was my longest ride at around 29 miles and 2 hours of riding time.  My biggest concern was whether the wider Q factor of the crank arms or the change in overall body position would create any issues with my legs during the race.


Yes… aerobars on my FB.

Prep was pretty easy… pump my tires up to 20 psi, add an additional bento bag to carry my GU and slap a set of aerobars on my fat bike.  Yes… I said aerobars on a fat bike.  I’m sure there will be some who feel this violates some type of cycling code… maybe it does… but there’s no doubt that on longer flat sections I can make more power at lower HR values with aerobars.

When I looked at the riders list, I knew the battle for the fat bike division would be for second place.  The guy who had won the fat bike division at Gravel Worlds was racing… and he beat me at GW by over 30 minutes… on his fat bike (versus my gravel bike).


The last I’d see of Luke Wilson until the finish…

The race start was a neutral roll out, where we followed a vehicle for the first couple miles until we cleared the higher traffic areas.  Once the race officially started, the pack started to spread out pretty quickly.  I saw a couple of other fat bikes, and I wanted to keep them behind me, so I pushed a bit early to create some separation.  I worked with Lance and Zack early (who I had rode with at 24HOC during the first 100k), and we took turns pulling.  I made a bit of a tactical error, doing a longer pull right before the first set of hills.  This left me fatigued going into the climbs… and pushing a substantially heavier bike, resulted in me falling off


Heather and the pack dropping me off the back… no love for the fat bike guy.  😉

the back of the pack.  I debated pushing hard to catch up, but decided to just settle in for my own ride.  A few miles up the road I ended up reuniting with Zack, and we rode together through 28 miles.  He planned to stop at the convenience store, so he rode ahead and planned to rejoin me afterwards.  I noticed several bikes at the convenience store… many where in the pack that had gotten ahead earlier… and I ended up passing them all again because I didn’t need to stop.  Unfortunately, Zack ended up with a flat after his stop, so he was never able to catch me again… the rest of my ride was solo.


Zack pulling me early in the race.  The shadows give an interesting perspective.

I continued to just focus on riding with steady effort / power.  I was slowly catching and passing other riders as I went.  We hit the one B road on the route, and it was dry with only one shorter / steeper hill, which was easily climbed with my pie-plate sized 50 cog on my cassette.  Eventually we turned to go north, heading right into the wind.  The aerobars were paying big dividends at this point and I was passing a lot of riders. One of the riders commented later that with all the tire noise from my bike, he thought he was being passed by a truck. 🙂  I stayed steady until the finish and was satisfied with the 2nd place in the fat bike division.  I was even happier with the 13th place overall, as I had made up a lot of ground later in the race… on a bike that was a lot heavier, with more rolling resistant and higher aero losses than those I was passing.  I was also pleasantly surprised to find that I ended up with no unusual aches and pains with the Q factor or body position (nothing more than normal racing pain).


I was afraid if I didn’t put a graph into my race report, nobody would believe I actually wrote it.

Sakari Racing (sponsor) provided a nice lunch after the race, and awards were passed out as well.  It was a great way to wrap up the race.  It was also cool to see that one of the people I coach, Luke Wilson, had take the win for the race.  Overall, it was a great day… a race I’d definitely like to do again.

I had planned to record the entire race on my GoPro… but forgot to turn on my spare battery.  This link is the first 30 or so miles, condensed down to less than 5 minutes… just long enough for some Alice in Chains music.  😉  Enough time though to see me get dropped on the first hills…

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