by Sarah Cooper, Ultracyclist
380 mile gravel bike race
Spring Valley, Minnesota
May 15–16, 2015
I stood in my kitchen the morning after the Alexander with my wrist in a brace, one arm in a sling, and more sore than I have been in a long time, struggling to remember the basics of making coffee. Scrapes and bruises, swollen legs, a huge knot in my hair that stuck out from the side of my head that I couldn’t get out… I’m sure I looked as dismal as I felt. I hadn’t intended to end up in such a miserable state, but apparently it’s just not a good gravel race unless I arrive home exhausted, starving, and a little battered. Viva la gravel!
The Alexander is a free, self-supported, 380-mile gravel race through Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin with almost 30,000 feet of climbing and some of the most beautiful scenery you will find anywhere. Every turn brought a new view to appreciate, and there was never a dull moment. The terrain was mostly rolling gravel hills through midwestern farm country, with some long and very steep climbs near the Mississippi River. The event costs nothing, and starts on a Friday morning in Spring Valley, Minnesota, the day before the legendary Almanzo 100. There are no time cut offs to make and no checkpoints anywhere, so you can ride until you are done, or broken. The Alexander was definitely one of the most beautiful and thrilling rides I’ve ever been on, and I hope to ride it again next year.