This was a 62 mile gravel race in Hastings, Michigan. The course was mostly hard-pack dirt roads with many short stretches of pavement. The conditions on race day were mostly frozen but it had rained the night before so the low areas were muddy. The terrain around Hastings is lovely rolling secret kept from Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Kalamazoo, all about 45 minutes away. The small town came alive on Saturday morning with thousands of cyclists, spectators and vendors. When my wave went off at 11:04 the hard work began: the competition was real; all the men and women in the 62 mile race were studs. After clearing the chaos of the start line I couldn’t locate any other females so I just rode fast. After about 5 miles I was pacing and jostling with a group of 3 other women and we grouped up for 30 long miles. The hills were merciless. You had to keep pace in the mud or get dropped. We had several guys join and drop in the process and one hung on the back for about 5 miles, which was pretty cute. Then, despite all of my protests, my mind and legs started to feel heavy. One woman rode ahead; I fell behind. I rode alone for several disparaging and cramp-filled miles. I did not take it easy on any of the hills, persey, but I was conservative. That tactic worked in the long run because I got a small second wind and bridged back to two of the girls that dropped me and passed them. At about mile 56 I told a straggler on a mountain bike that I was seriously done with this. His grinning response was, “it’s too early to say that.” Oh God. Did I mention the hills? So, when do we sign up for next year? I placed 18 out of 35 and my time was 4h and 25 m.