“That’s like one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was brutal.”
Tiffany Cromwell yesterday finished in eighth place overall in the women’s 144-mile SBT GRVL Black Course in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Racing her first gravel event of the year, Cromwell said it was one of the toughest racing challenges of her career.
“It started so crazy hard. I guess I wasn’t expecting that given the distance of the race. I was hoping for a higher result than eighth, but at one point I was just happy to make it to the finish line, to be honest. My heart rate was high from start to finish. Adding in some altitude pressures as well, it was a really long and hard day on the bike,” said Tiffany.
After a fast-paced start, Tiffany said she soon found her group and though there were a few things she said she could have done differently, she was pleased overall with her performance.
“The nature of mass participation is really fun. I couldn’t stay with the front runners for long, but then eventually you find your group. I probably could have been better with my fuelling. Even though I focused on it, given the amount of energy I expended there still would have been a deficit into the last part of the race,” admitted Tiffany.
“I’d also need to do longer gravel rides to get the feeling of riding that kind of distance. Other than that, I think I rode really well. I tried to play the long game with the hope of catching some of the women who were up the road later in the race. I used the wheels of the riders around me and made the most of it.”
“I am happy with a top ten finish, especially in a field of strong women with some who have far more gravel racing experience than I do. Right now, I don’t have the long endurance base that you need for a top result at these types of races. Seven hours and thirty minutes is more than double what I normally do in training and racing on the road. It was sort of like running a marathon, the different phases that you go through. I’m happy I made it to the finish and I have to say well done to everyone else who also did!”
Not waiting too long for the next gravel race, Tiffany will line up again this Saturday 21 August, in the 104-mile Belgian Waffle Ride in Asheville, North Carolina.
“I’ll definitely need a couple of easy days to recover. I’ll look after myself, eat well, and probably sleep a lot! I’ll do some course recon and a few harder rides to wake up the system again before race day. It’s meant to be shorter and a different style to SBT GRVL. I’ll take some of my learnings from yesterday’s race and see if I can improve.”