The 2nd annual Dust Bowl 100 occurred on Saturday, July 23rd, as nearly 600 participants raced their bikes through the backroads of Putnam county. That is up from the nearly 400 the inaugural year which did not include a number of applicants on the waiting list.
The Dust Bowl 100 is not like a typical bike race you'd see on the TV, such as the Tour de France this month or the high-speed criterium racing you will see next month at the Mass Ave and Indy Criterium (August 27th-28th) but a race that is ridden over a variety of terrain. Gravel racing offers up courses that include anything from pavement to dirt trails. However, they are mostly made up of gravel roads, hence the name. Putnam County offers up one of the nicest areas in the midwest to hold one of these events with its wide open farm fields and lightly traveled roads.
The race starts and finishes at Eminence High School and traverses through many gravel roads and covered iron bridges through the county. Race options range from 44 miles to the full 100 miles, which makes it Indiana's first gravel century.
This year's edition was a fast one! With the dry weather in the area recently, the roads were hard-packed, tracked fast, and lived up to the race's name with all the dust. That morning, an outflow boundary from storms near Lafayette did move through the area during the middle of the race and kicked up quite a bit of wind but no rain. The cloud cover through most of the day did offer a bit of relief for the riders in the open, exposed areas and kept the predicted high temperatures down.
Even though the Dust Bowl 100 is a race, the spirit of gravel racing is meant to be inclusive to everyone, even beginners. Gravel racing is just as much about completing a personal challenge as it is competing against others. The Dust Bowl 100 is meant to be a rewarding and memorable experience for those that just want to unplug from the busyness of everyday life and explore roads that will refresh the soul.
This year's event brought a new challenge. It gave a person with little experience to go from the couch to do the full 100 miles. Thanks to the sponsors of Westfield Cyclesports, FasCat Coaching, and the Dust Bowl 100, a participant had all the tools they needed to complete the event, including a bike, trainer, gear, entry, clothing, and coaching. This year's participant was Chelsea Monholand. Chelsea put in a lot of work starting her training in February, training anywhere from 6 to 10 hours a week, including her longest ride of 76 miles 3 weeks before the event. Chelsea finished the full 100-mile race in under 9 hours!
The Dust Bowl 100 will be taking place next year in late July. Follow Dust Bowl 100 on social media for updates on dates and how to enter the 0 to 100 challenge yourself!
This year's winners were:
100 mile Open Men: Mark Myles, Utica, KY 4hrs 40min
100 mile Open Women: Julia Priest, Versailles, KY 5hrs 20min
100 mile Masters Men: Matt Hamilton, Carmel, IN 4hrs 46min
100 mile Masters Women: Jesus Gutierrez, St. Charles, IL 5hrs 14min
100 mile Junior Men: John Kubiak, Lakeland, MN 4hrs 44min
100 mile Junior Women: Samatha Clark, Louisville, KY 5hrs 20min
80 mile Open Men: Rob Cline, Indianapolis, IN 4hrs 23min
80 mile Open Women: Sarah Larson, Bloomington, IN 4hrs 26min
80 miles Masters Men: Curtis Tolson, Louisville, KY 4hrs 15min
80 miles Masters Women: Lindsey Halter, Vine Grove, KY 5hrs 10min
44 miles Men Open: Justin Ratliff, Westfield, IN 2hrs 6min
44 miles Women Open: Judy M Porter, Westfield, IN 2hrs 24min
44 miles Junior: Judah Meek, Mishawaka, IN 2hrs 12min
44 miles Tandem: John and Sarah Leitzel, Crown Point, IN 2hrs 41min
Disclosure: the author works at FasCat Coaching, one of the sponsors.