Funk Bottoms Gravel entered its 10th official race excluding last year’s pandemic virtual race. Saturday morning started early as the field has grown from three entrants in the first year to a capped 250 entrants in 2021. Volunteers and support staff on little sleep from marking the course the night before, start rolling in around 4am to prepare for registration, a 7am start for the 200k race, and the 100k race starting an hour later. Many familiar faces return while plenty of new faces arrive for the self-proclaimed Ohio’s toughest gravel grinder. The 100k course this year featured 66 miles and 8200 feet of vertical climbing with less than 9 miles of the course paved. If that’s not enough for you then you can register for the 200k which sends you out for two laps of the aforementioned terrain.
The weather on this Saturday morning called for fairly mild temperatures in the 70s with possible pop-up strong thunderstorms throughout the day. The course was in fantastic shape and some fast predictions were casually discussed among the race organizers. The threat of storms kept quite a few riders away and there were around 60 DNS entrants in this year’s race. However as 7am approached and the neutral roll out began, the largest field of 200k racers for FBG took to the course and an hour later the largest field of 100k racers took off after them.
Under mostly cloudy skies and mild conditions, the field looked enthusiastic and excited to tackle the course that was ahead. The first 5.5 miles of the course are a gradual climb, which may give riders a false sense of security about what their day might look like. After the first real descent is an almost immediate steep climb of nearly 500 feet in under ¾ of a mile, and it’s at this point you can really start to gauge what your day is going to look and feel like. When you’re not climbing on this course, you’re descending steep gravel roads which leaves many riders white knuckled. While it’s difficult to count the hills on the course as there is a frequent joke that FBG put’s hills on top of the hills, there are roughly 6 steep climbs in the first 25 miles before rolling into Killbuck for a much needed break at one of the local convenience stores to refill supplies on this self-supported race.
Every year the race coordinators vary the Funk Bottom course for new and interesting sights and challenges. This year’s route included 1.5 miles of new gravel roads never ridden in previous years. One of the favorite sections among the riders is “Bigfoot Road” where a 15-foot tall Bigfoot holding gun has been carved out of a tree. To the surprise of the racers a few miles before the secret checkpoint, some Gravel Angels decided to set-up an oasis dressed as clowns. This was a much-needed comical break from the relentless grueling hills.
A not so secret checkpoint this year was at mile 52 again in Killbuck where the first riders from the 200k managed to pull in just over 3 hours into the race. With mild temperatures and a little bit of rain, most of the 200k racers opted to not stop at the only aid station provided by the race and continue to push through the final 15 miles of the first lap back into Glenmont. A little less than an hour after the first 200k riders came through; the 100k field started rolling through the checkpoint. The faces of the riders ranged from enthusiastic that they were nearing the end of the course, to agony and asking for the shortest bail out option to the finish line. For the next few hours, the strung out field of 100k riders continued passing through the checkpoint. As the last of the 100k riders made their way through the mile 52 checkpoint, the aggressive pace of the 200k riders on their second lap lapped some of them.
A group of about five 200k riders pulls in together back into Glenmont finishing the first lap. Initially it appears that this group might stick together for the rest of the day and the race could be in for a close finish. Shortly into that second lap however, a surge by the leader breaks that group up and by the second time through the mile 52 checkpoint, there was well over a 1-minute gap between each of the first five leaders.
Not to the surprise of the race organizers, past Funk Bottoms champion Ben Meer won the 100k in under 4 hours separated by less than 2 minutes by Paul Martin, with the 3rd place finisher just another few minutes behind. A late entrant Julia Priet won the Women’s 100K and posted an amazing time. For the next few hours, riders of all categories would continually be pushing across the finish line.
Jeff Pendlebury defending his title from the 2019 200K was the first 200k participant to cross the finish line set a new race record with a blazing time of 8h 32m 11s. Fresh off her win two weeks prior at the Mohican 100 Jen Toops won the Women’s 200K. All 200k participants are greeted at the finish line with a finishers award; this year being the Funk Bottoms Gravel pint glass (hopefully full of ice-cold Yuengling).
All in all, it was a fantastic day for racing for everyone involved. Special thanks to everyone who participated in this race and makes the day what it is. Funk Bottoms Gravel truly brings out the most determined riders for Ohio’s toughest gravel grinder
Mens 100K Open
1) Ben Meer* (Johnny Velo Racing) 3:55:41
2) Alex Lundbeck (Paul Martin) 3:57:36
3) Maxwell Matsanoff (Audi) 4:03:41
Womens 100K Open
1) Julia Priet (Bicycle Face) 4:51:38
2) Emily Miller (VeloFemm p/b Litzler) 5:24:48
3) Christina Condon (West Coast Cycling) 6:10:02
100K Single Speed
1) Josh Kunz* (Trans-Sylvania Productions) 4:32:04
2) Nicholas Campbell 4:52:21
3) Tucker Cavanaugh 4:56:42
100k Master Men
1) Nate Loman (Hammer Nutrition) 4:28:36
2) Rudy Sroka (Lake Effect) 4:36:11 3) Tom Weaver (Summit Freewheelers) 4:42:29
100K Master Women
1) Julie Sroka (Lake Effect) 5:28:54
2) Judy Porter* 6:09:37
3) Peggy Cook 6:10:16
4) Cynthia Berard 6:10:16
200K Men Open
1) Jeff Pendlebury* (Ride on Wooster) 8:32:11 (Race Record)
2) Andrew Boissiere (Headwins p/b Elevator Brewing) 8:41:54
3) Brent Goetz (Think Green-Bicycle Face) 8:47:23
200K Women’s Open
1) Jen Toops (Pearl-Izumi/ Pivot MTB race Team) 10:23:04
2) Maggie Livelsberger 11:53:02 3) Genna Brock (DNF)
200K Single Speed
1)Scott Phillips* (Team Dayton-Reser Bicycle) 11:20:01
1) Garth Prosser (Specialized) 10:18:04
2) Steve Curran (Ghisallo Cycling) 10:33:04
3) Jason Hall (Summit Freewheelers) 12:55:02
Race report & pictures provided by: The funk masters (Chris, Marc, Paul)
Full results CLICK HERE