At Sea Otter Classic, we caught up with Jukebox's Ashton Lambie to see what he's up to this season—including how he's prepping for a 1000-mile race.
I think these events are really important. Most people don't race. I do my fair share of elite racing and the training is really hard, but I think connecting with the community, being present in those group rides, and seeing what people are up to and finding out what inspires more people to get on bikes—that’s huge.
I did the Life Time Grand Prix last year, and that was really trial by fire for me. Last year, at Sea Otter, that was my first-ever mountain bike race. I've gotten a lot better at mountain biking and I'm still doing it a ton. I live in Houston, and we've got some nice trails down there. I do a lot of like riding to the trails, which has been great. But I'm really excited about Flint Hills Gravel—it’s a 1000 mile bike-packing race that starts and finishes in Emporia and goes up to the Nebraska border, back down through the Flint Hills into Oklahoma and then back to Emporia.
It's interesting. I’ve talked with a lot of guys who have experience in racing like this as well as just their own personal adventures. Everyone seems to have very different perspectives on how to do it. My friend Nico says the first day, you just ride for 36 to 48 hours straight. But Chaz says to sleep the first night so you can finish stronger. I've done ultra distance in the past, though it's been a little different, because it's been a little bit more supported. But there are hotels and stuff along this route, so there is pretty good support options. I think I'll probably carry a little divvy to sleep if I need to, but I’d like to stay in hotels to sleep. There are so many other little things to think about too—I never would have thought to carry a thread kit to sew up blown up tires, but it’s a great suggestion. There are so many little things that are super small, but if you don't have them, it can end your day. Yes, there is a lot of support if something happens, but I want to finish. I want to finish because 1000 miles through beautiful country... I think it's gonna be really hard, but it’s also gonna be really cool.
There's a Gravel Hall of Fame thing on Wednesday night in Emporia, and so I'm hoping to be there and done by Wednesday night. We start Saturday at 6am. So that would be Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and all day Wednesday to finish. So, five roughly 200 mile days, give or take.
It's tough. You have to have a balance: You have to have some real food. But you also need a lot of sugar. And it comes down to what's available on the route. I'm going to be doing some serious course recon online to see how I can resupply, what’s available, what will be open, stuff like that. The logistics of it are so important for a race like this.
There's a handful of other gravel races, and it'll be exciting to be able to recover from that event and then head to Unbound. It’ll be fun to be there but not have the pressure of racing. Since it’s only a week after the 1000 miles, I probably won’t be sitting on a bike seat for a couple days. There are also a couple other gravel races I have lined up: Gravel Worlds in Nebraska, and The Rift in Iceland. Even if we don't have amazing weather like we did last year, I always love that race.