The Dirty Lemming is my favorite gravel race. Jim & his crew reflect all that is great about gravel grinding - low key, competitive w/o being cut-throat, more interested in connecting with other riders & building community than anything else. If you've forgotten why you ride then come to the Lemming and get filled up again.
Enough proselytizing - here's a quick recap of my experience at the 2017 Lemming.
As always, we started out quick on the Luce Line. I settled into the 2nd half of the front group of 20 or so riders. But just 3 miles from the start I noticed a gap had opened up between the few riders directly in front of me and the lead group - I got caught sleeping. It sucks to get caught out so early so I muscled up and closed the gap over the next mile or so. By the time we turned off the Luce Line and onto the gravel I had pulled about 10 other people up to the lead group again. But who are we kidding, I had no delusions about hanging with the front group - especially since half of 'em were cutting out at mile 35 to head back for the 100K version. So somewhere between mile 5 and 10 the group split in half again and I was left squarely in the middle of the 2nd group.
Thankfully for me (and about 15 other riders in group 2) there was an absolute beast with us who literally pulled us for 20 miles into the first checkpoint. He was out front and pulling so flipping hard that our group totally blew up & by the time we got into the first checkpoint we were only 4.
As much as we appreciated the pull we were all grateful that Mr Monster was only doing 100K so we wouldn't have to worry about clinging to his wheel for the next 70 miles. Still, we waited for our motor to head out from the 1st checkpoint and hung in his slipstream for another 5 miles 'til the courses split.
Those of us doing the full 100 miles all breathed a sigh of relief as our heart rates fell away from redlining. And at the same time we all wondered who was going to pick up the lead. After a few awkward seconds we realized that we'd have to organize and start doing the pace-work ourselves. At this point there were only 5 of us left, and lucky for me I knew 2 of the other guys. So we re-introduced ourselves to each other, began taking turns at the front and got into the middle miles.
We were a good cooperative group and most of us hung together all the way into checkpoint two in Stockholm. I pounded a Coke, looked at some cookies, refilled my water bottles and boom - we were off again. A few minutes into the last 40 mile stretch we picked up Pete (actually, he picked us up from behind - very impressive effort) to make 5. Unfortunately we dropped one of our friends at around mile 75, but still we had 4 all the way into the finish.
I think Scott and I did the majority of the pulling; Scott is a machine, especially on the hills. I envy his effortless style & cadence - meanwhile I feel like I'm always on the rivet, elbows & knees flailing just to keep a steady pace. All told, the four of us finished together at about 5:27. It was a great day for me & I even felt like I had some gas left in the tank.
Back to what makes the Lemming so awesome. The 2017 Lemming of the Year award was given to Jim's childhood friend Mark, who has sung the national anthem for 7 years before the start of the race. Absolutely well earned - more deserving than any rider and emblematic of the spirit of Jim and the event. Thanks to Jim and his team of volunteers for hosting us and putting on such a first class event.
See you next year!