Grusk race Recap: Jason Anderson
Last Friday Jason Anderson departed the start of GRUSK (Gravel Race Up Spruce Knob) at ~5am. The route covered 260 miles of gravel backroads, state forrest fire roads, a little single track, and some old chip and seal pavement through the mountainous region of Monongahela in West Virginia. It covered over 23K feet of vert before finishing with a final summiting of Spruce Knob; the highest point in West Virginia.
Ocean and San: Walk us through your plan for this race. Do you head in with a detailed strategy or is the goal to just 'keep riding'?
Jason Anderson: Strategy for these things are always loose, knowing that anything can happen, at any time. I try not to get too tied to a plan for that reason. Being able to adapt and re-strategize on the fly are super important in these longer races in order to avoid digging yourself into any kind of mental hole. You just need to keep in mind that first and foremost, you’re here to have fun. Everything else is secondary for me.
O&S: Most people reading this likely have been on their own version of a 'long ride', 4 or 5 hours seems typical. Or for those who are big into bike-packing or adventure style riding maybe they've even ridden sunrise to sunset. But you can give us some insight into what it's like riding a bike at hours 15 through 24?
JA: Those later hours (or the witching hours as some people like to call them), are really where I’m learning that I thrive. I find it easy to lock in and just keep moving forward through the darkness. Something about it is calming. The rhythmic nature of pedaling with just a tunnel of light ahead, no distractions, and no concept of the passing time makes the miles go by quick. I definitely make sure to keep the regular caffeine and food consumption up during those hours to help the body stay awake as well.
O&S: How do you refuel and what was your go-to food? I'm assuming there must be a lot of gas station stops?
JA: These ultra events are something of an eating contest on two wheels haha. I use a lot of sports nutrition in the way of in-bottle calories/carb mix and gels. Outside of that I also keep a lot of bars, candy, and pre-packaged pastries on me. This event had only 2 stops that I used to re-stock and fuel up. One around mile 80, and the second at mile 170. Both of those stops had burger joints that I hit and loaded up on the only “real food” during the entirety of the ride. A cold coke and a hot meal always hits different when you’re +10 hours in.
O&S: Was the training plan to just ride as much as you can into the lead up of the race?
JA: I have been working with my coach, Eddie Anderson since December preparing for Badlands in Spain later this year. This ride was a great opportunity for us to test bike set-up and fitness compared to the first 250 mile ultra back in April. A lot of volume stacked on top of already fatigued legs during training weeks has been key.
O&S: What is the appeal for a race like this compared to a standard century ride or a more typical gravel race that's maybe 8 or so hours?
JA: Man, I just really love riding my bike for extended amount of time. Being out all day and then some is my absolute favorite. Taking in new parts of the world, finding the little hole-in-the-wall food joints, meeting other *crazy* people, and just being grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given through this biking thing. It’s a disconnect. A chance to get out of your own way and deep dive beyond the ordinary cycles of everyday life that we tend to get caught up in. I always come back refreshed after the long ride; as contradictory as that may sound. I like to refer to them as a moving meditation. They really are good for the spirit. You don’t get that same effect through fast races.