spotted-horse-gravel-ultra - KKImages

Spotted Horse Gravel Ultra - St. Charles, Iowa, Saturday October 5 2019

The coarse profile for this race looks like an EKG readout that's gone ballistic. Somewhere around 12,000 feet of elevation gain on the 200 mile route, and the hills just keep coming at you, relentlessly all day long and well into the night. I was really curious, to know what motivates some one to put the long hours in the saddle to prepare for an event like this.

Rain gear, check, front wheel, check.

Roll'n down to the start.

Kate Ankofski

It's go time after a 30 minute lightening delay

I think the answer is that there are lots of reasons for doing an event like this. For Heather Poskevich, it's the sense of adventure getting to see new scenery and testing herself against conditions, even on training rides. For Rose Willy, it's the desire to challenge her self, to grow her skills and ability on a bike but mostly the drive comes from the opportunity to have these unique one of a kind experiences. Each one teaches me alot about who I am as an individual and allows me truly live into myself as well as the extraordinary experience an ultra race can bring. For Jennifer Borst, a race like this is so much like life. It's unpredictable at best. You go into races with a plan. You must learn how to adjust your plan no matter what. Think on the fly, always be willing to adjust. Listen to your body. But be aware sometimes your body lies to you. Then you must trust your head. It's a game of risk. Nothing is a guarantee on gravel. Ever. I like solid answers and so there's a bit of an adrenaline rush in that for me. Facing the unknown is good for the soul. For Katherine Roccosecca, my A goal was to finish the 200, slay all the personal demons caused by the DNFs, and no longer feel like I need to prove something about this race. My B goal, if I didn't make it to the choice point with enough time left to finish the 200 without DNF'ing, was to drop to the 150, finish the 150, and be happy about it.

Into the darkness

Sarah Cooper cheers on Andrew Willis

Scott St. and 195th Avenue

Heather Poskevitch

Darvish Shadravan

Jennifer Borst

Beth Welliver

Adrienne Taren

Thomas Claver

Murray to Lorimor, IA

Casey's and C stores like the Whistle Stop in Lorimor are a cyclists best friend. The Casey's pizza and chocolate milk are staples.

Cole Ledbetter

Jen Reed

Drip, drip, drip

What are dry clothes?

A veterinary practice from 1915 - 1954.

On to Macksburg

From 50 to mile 96 was the low or valley for me for sure. The first level B slowed progress but I was able to ride 1/2 of it before having to dismount, grab the strap and hike. There after it was a series of challenges with getting the mud cleaned off, keeping the mechanicals in good working order and getting dried out from the second round of rain. Between the level B’s, the fresh gravel and gusty headwinds progress on the second 50 felt like every mile was a hard won battle. Just when you’d get a break from the B roads you’d be faced with fresh gravel, steep climbs or headwinds and sometimes it was a combination of some or all of them at once. This often made me chuckle at the absurdity of extremes! - Rose Willey

Mark Skarpohl

Jon Duke

Heather Poskevitch

There will always be ups and downs. You’ll feel great and you’ll feel bad. Things will go well and then they won’t. Somedays you’ll want to train and other days you won’t. It’s what you chose to do with the hardships when you are presented with them. Keeping the appropriate mindset and understanding that the momentary hardship is just that…momentary. The big picture is finishing the event, the training plan, and problem-solving your way through the current situation. Ultra cycling has taught me that I can tolerate a lot more than I thought I could and conversely, some hard knocks in life have taught me that anything that happens to me in sport is by my choice and I largely should be able to get through it. Ultra cycling teaches resilience, patience, and the ability to channel your inner strength, which is a whole lot of fun! - Heather Poskevitch

Jaun Cerda

Tyler Johnson

Brad Stoermer and Jennifer Borst

Dream big. Surround yourself with good, wise, strong people. - Jennifer Borst

Adrienne Taren

Beth Welliver

Kate Geisen

Katherine Roccosecca


Afton, Ia. Halfway home.

In Afton I downed a couple slices of caseys pizza, coffee, some fresh socks and dry pants. I felt like a million bucks and set off for Murray. - Rose Willey

It just sticks everywhere.

Sean Mattner

Nathan Griffee

Jennifer Borst

Luke Wilson once said, In suffering lies salvation. This phrase has stayed with me in a lot of dark moments. Pushing your body beyond where it wants to go with the simple power of one's mind is truly a gift that I think I'm lucky enough to have a little grasp on.

CP2, just outside of Afton

Kirk Cox

One last stop in Murray, IA

I arrived in Murry just before Mark Skarpohl did. A combination of slick tires and commandeering a pressure washer on route are two are two of the way's Mark keeps the mud at bay.

Mark Skarpohl

Tyler Johnson

Jaun Cerda

Lee Buehl checks in Beth Welliver