Written by Doug Southwick Wednesday, 21 June 2017 00:00
Black Fly Challenge
June 10, 2017
Indian Lake / Inlet, NY
The Black Fly Challenge (Adirondack Gravel Grinder) started back in 1996; way before most of us ever knew what a gravel grinder was. It's 40 miles point to point and alternates direction every year between Indian Lake and Inlet NY. This being an odd year, we will be racing the longer direction (start is a mile down the road from the even year finish) and the paved section comes first. Another new attendance record was set at over 880 racers pre-registered. I think one of he reasons BFC draws so many people is being there are hundreds of mini races inside the race, well that or maybe its actually the party afterwards?
Its a sunny warm morning as we are all lined up together in one massive group. As we take off I am already mentally prepared to push myself as hard as needed to stay with the front group. I am on a MTB and I am expecting the cross/gravel bike guys will be in the front going at a pretty fast pace. It's a rather intense and at times scary experience being the pack of 100plus are tight together and surging. You hear “Slowing!” and hit the brakes, then seconds later you better be pedaling at 100%. We are averaging over 20 mph and I hear a crash somewhere behind me. After 30 minutes of this we finally hit the gravel and the hills and I am immediately blown out the back.
The dirt roads are in good shape but I am in no mans land and feel a slight headwind. I try for a bunch of miles and finally catch another solo MTB and suggest we work together. Maybe 2 miles after that we catch the friend I drove up with earlier in the day. Now we are three and are still together as we make it over the biggest climb of the day. We soon catch a few more folks and become 7. I thought we were traveling at a good pace but towards the end of a 5ish mile flat section a group of 10-15 mostly MTB guys catch up and I cant say I am very happy about that. I know I'm not getting on the podium but I still care how I do overall, overall MTB and in my AG.
This big group is catching MTB's and cross people like crazy, and I am sure some (most?) are tagging along. I have a plan, lets see if it works. The plan starts with trying to conserve until the big climb comes. We are now there and it's steep and long enough to make a difference. Out of the big group I'm one of the first over top and know this is not the time to let off. I soon pass a rider down (who already had help) but keep the pace high. I finally take the right off the dirt and onto the last climb which is paved. My heart/lungs are ready to blow but I survive the climb and now a quick short downhill and then into the the last mile. This section is muddy doubletrack (always a fun spot to pass a few cross riders). Out of the big group I held off all but one guy so I was happy with how I did in my race within the race. AG results: 8th/40. Overall results: 80th / 812 finishers.
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