Pro Gravel

Red Bull Rio Grande

09/05/22
Jonas Orset

At the border of Mexico, in the far out west, the gravel’s best riders were invited to duel in the roughest gravel conditions you’ll find in Texas.

Starting in the morning at 9, the temperatures were already up to 25°C and soon the temperature raised as the day grew older. 

The course featured three series of just over 25 mile long loops, including gravel roads, sand paths, rocks, dry river crossings, and some faster sections on tarmac. All to make it something for all tastes. The loops would add up to 79 miles (128 km).

The heat would potentially be the toughest challenge as the temperatures could rise above 100°F or 40°C. As it did.

Corey (right) and I taking the 9h drive from Dallas to race in Rio Grande. Photo: Jonas Orset.

Lining up with some of the best

Together with Corey, my team mate in Cadence Cyclery, we took the road trip from McKinney, Dallas, and down to Cibolo Ranch, with Marfa as the closest town. We added a stopover in Big Spring and spent the night in Alpine.

We were arriving well in time for the start, lining up with riders like Colin Strickland, Paul Voss, Tyler Pierce (Vegan cyclist) and Emma Grant.

The start was rather controlled, but after 5 miles we came to the first sandy and dusty path, and the group split.

At one point it was so dusty I barely could see the rider in front of me! Breathing was not easy.

Picture from Vegan Cyclist. Link by clicking on the photo.

Dusty gravel roads become rocky

We were still about 15 riders coming into the most technical part of the lap, I stayed on the wheels of Colin Strickland, but missed a bit momentum in some of the parts and lost the first 4 riders getting away.

Behind I regathered with four others and half a lap later it was only Mat Stevens and I. The first group had a solid gap and we rode together mostly just to keep the position.

Photo from the start, but it shows the amazing, yet dry land. Photo: Jonas Orset.

Like riding in a sauna

The heat was starting to be quite had to manage, and I started to get quite overheated. Using water to cool down was not the best idea as I also needed to hydrate by drinking. The a few really quick water stops made the difference and the warm southern breeze was also good.

The worst parts were those sheltered from wind. Like riding in a sauna.

Dry and hot! Dusty, and cattle along the road. Photo: Jonas Orset.

I felt stronger than my fellow rider, but mentally it was a lot easier to keep the focus being two. Alone I could easily lose the motivation in the heat. 

Into the last 3 miles and into the most technical section, I did this time no mistake, and got a gap on Mat. 

I kept my momentum and soon later, I was passing the finish line as 5th!

Passing the finish line as 5th! Photo: Corey Ray.

More to come

Pretty happy with the result as my first gravel race in the US, just after arriving the States, and with more than two days on the road to get here. Only my third time on the new bike from Cadence Cyclery. 

This was a great start to my American campaign with another gravel race next weekend with Gravel Locos. 

Shout out to Corey, awesome to make the trip with you!

Time to smile after finishing the 80-miler in 5th. And finally time to cool down with a cold shower! Photo: Corey Ray.
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