Dusty, Dirty Puppy

By: Chris Orr

The Dirty Puppy was the short-course version of the Red Dog 100 in Jefferson City.  I had done the long course the previous year.  I had a good race last year, but I decided to go for the short-course this time.  Part of my decision was because of my lackluster performance at BT Epic two weeks prior and because the long-course version was stacked with talented riders.  I knew that I could be competitive in the Dirty Puppy, and it would be nice to go into my off-season training program with Move Up Coaching on a high note.  I knew of at least four or five riders in the 50-mile race that I would ultimately be competing against for the podium, which was one of my goals that day.

The pre-race ritual involved the usual equipment checks and nutrition preparation.  My rear tire needed air, which concerned me since I had to add co2 to it the day before on a tune-up ride with some of the guys.  After topping it off at 40psi, I noticed soon after that it was slowly losing pressure.  At this point, I had no choice but to take my chances out on the course.

I had ridden this race and course several times previously.  On prior occasions, the race accelerated into a fever pitch as soon as we crossed the Missouri River bridge.  This day, however, it was much more subdued.  I was really surprised at how relaxed the first ten miles were.  I think that with the horsepower that was in the field, no one felt the need to stretch their legs so early in the race.  I have never experienced a gravel race start like this one.  It was more like a road race rather than a gravel race.  This wasn’t  that much of a surprise since the pack was filled with road racers that were starting to dabble in gravel scene.

I have ridden the 50-mile course several times.  I split it into three sections.  It has a flat 10-mile start, followed by a hilly 20-mile section, with a dead-flat 18-mile finish.  The flat finish is deceptively challenging.

I was feeling pretty good, but was aware that my rear tire was becoming softer as the early miles wore on.  My team-mate, Kyle and I were working together around mile 20 when we caught up with another DDRP member, Anatolie.  We were riding together as 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place on the road.  Not long after catching up the Anatolie, I was forced to stop and add co2 to my tire.  The guys were up the road, but in sight.  I kept chasing them down and I was within 1:05 of them on the last climb heading into Tebbetts, which is where the final flat section began.  Kyle and Anatolie were straight ahead of me, but my tire was starting to bottom out again.  I had to stop once more.  After my second unscheduled pit stop, I knew my chance to catch those two guys and a podium finish were over.  I took a glance behind me and couldn’t see anyone coming.  I decided that I should just ride to protect my place on the road, and tried to keep my watts around 230-240 as I made my way towards the capital.  As I made my way into Cedar City, my tire was needing another co2 injection, but I wasn’t willing to stop.  While riding up the quad-level ascent towards the bridge, my rear kept sliding out.  I babied it towards the finish line banner and finished one minute behind my goal of finishing in three hours.  I had to settle for fourth place, but I felt like I rode well and was competitive. Now to put in some real work and prepare for the Texas Chainring Massacre in January.