Winning SBT GRVL Blue - Power Analysis
I won the 100-mile race at SBT GRVL, and here’s a look at my power file from the popular gravel event in Steamboat Springs, Colorado that sells out its 3,000 slots in less than 10 minutes.
FasCat brought a posse of staff and athletes to SBT GRVL this year, and we collectively raced many of the different distances. I won the 100-mile Blue course in a three-man sprint. The 140-mile Black course is the pro distance, with money on the line. Keegan Swenson and Lauren De Crescenzo won the Black this year.
We all had a great time in Steamboat, and we highly recommend you doing it next year!
With the help of the Big Cat (FasCat founder Frank Overton), here is some analysis and context on my data from the 2022 SBT GRVL Blue, and some comparisons to my power file from the 2021 SBT GRVL Black.
By The Numbers
- 20.8mph average
- 100 miles in 4:48:03
New Sports Science Stats
- 272w Normalized Power
- 3.33 watts / kg for the 4 hours and 48 minutes
- Intensity Factor of .83 (I averaged 83% of my threshold power for 100 miles)
- TSS of 326 as you can see 👇
How it Played Out
Half an hour after the Black course started, about one thousand of us in the Blue course rolled out under police escort. After one short paved climb, we were onto the dusty, rolling gravel in the early morning light.
The first third of the course trends upwards with rollers layered on top and culminates with a hard pitch up to Steamboat Lake. Each roller thinned the front group, and some of the loose corners on the following descents also kept things singlefile.
The Steamboat Lake climb was where a critical selection was made. I did 356w normalized power for 11.5 minutes [4.4 w/kg] — and could not keep up with Nick Gould (Mazda Lauf) and another rider. Behind that pair, eight of us fell into a chase group over the top.
My peak five-minute power of 375w was also on that climb [4.7 w/kg]], as it steepens in the last kilometer and I was riding at my limit. Similarly, my peak 20-minute power for the day was on that long grind up to Steamboat Lake. I did 4.1w/kg for 20 minutes.
Last year on the Black course, it was faster in the opening 20 miles. I did 493w for a minute on the very first climb at mile 2, for instance. And the second ten miles or so was 335w normalized power for 27 minutes for me. I got dropped from the front group on the Steamboat Lake climb.
Gravel isn’t just w/kg, of course; there is also bike handling and pack riding and nutrition involved. SBT GRVL has a fun singletrack section through a ranch. This year, as the front groups of the Blue were catching and riding through riders from the Black course all day, this section added a tricky dynamic.
Three of us in the chase group attacked on a subsequent climb and made it stick, still in pursuit of the two leaders. After Gould’s breakaway companion came off his pace and then ours, it was three chasing one. We had the lead motorcycle as a visual guide ahead of Gould as he snaked through the Black riders.
After we caught Gould, the four of us generally rode a steady tempo, with only a couple small attacks coming. We lost one of our four to cramps — sorry, Thomas! — and then the three amigos rode steady towards Steamboat.
On the final climb, I averaged 279 watts for 20 minutes from miles 85.5 to 90. There, the three of us were just trying not to cramp as we were out of water. It was a completely different effort from the all-out climb earlier in the day. Nonetheless, 279w after 3,167kJs feels pretty hard — much harder than that same effort when you are fresh!
Thankfully there was a neutral aid station at the top of the last climb, where we agreed to take a 30-second pit stop to refill bottles. From there, it was a smooth and then rocky bomb down to the long, paved run-in to town.
The last 400m wraps around a block with a tight little chute in an S-bend before opening up for the last 250m or so on the wide main road. Erik Dorf led it out into the S-bend. When Gould sputtered a bit (he was cramping), I came around him and got on Dorf’s wheel into the last two corners. And then I dug in on the main road, remembering the slogan Reggie Miller has painted on his custom Moots Routt RSL bike: “Don’t stop when you’re tired; stop when you’re done.”
I did 1,138w for 9 seconds with a 1,203w peak to get myself over the line first.
SBT GRVL is an excellent event, and I had a blast riding with everyone out there on a beautiful course.
Foundation : 3 Weeks
- Perfect for all cyclists beginning off season training
- Raise your CTL and the all-important muscle tension intervals
Phil Gaimon's FONDO
- Complete similar workouts to what Phil does to prepare for all his KOM's
- Sweet Spot training, threshold intervals, and some anaerobic work