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Michelle's story: Low Gap Quintessential Hopper

BaseCamper Michelle Nightengale shared her experience at the 2023 Low Gap Quintessential Hopper on January 28.

Category Raced: 60+ Women

Finished: 5th out of 6 (There are some SUPER strong women in this age category for sure.)

My Time: 5:08:26 (The winning 60+ woman had a time of 3:36:15)

Weather Conditions: Cool temps and sunshine, 44 degrees to start out and just under 60 degrees for the high of the day. Late afternoon it was windy. When the sun went down it was downright cold (best conditions I’ve ever experienced; this was my 4th time racing this venue)

Terrain: Mixed 50/50 pavement and double track fire roads (only 3 or so large puddles of mud to go around, thankfully)

Number of Riders: Mass start with 521 total riders ( 660 were registered)

My Goal for the Race: Finish, of course. Try to climb the first climb, which is 6 miles at a steady pace, and not blow up, as this would take too long to recover from with more racing to do.

What happened in the race and what I learned from it:

I need to work better at taking in the correct amount of carbs per hour. I did better than last year but still need to figure out how to better gauge this process. Maybe an alert on my Garmin to tell me to eat/drink! My body sure could have had more practice with outside riding before this event. I felt super exhausted from the descending. Riding inside was not helpful. Note to self before any race with lots of elevation gain: get my muscles ready to handle all the descending. What goes up must come down…

Below is John Simmons's video of the race (from Team City out of Sacramento). I've listed a timeline so you can fast forward to the transition times where I passed him and he passed me. I watched this video and learned from it; I think I need to be pedaling more when going downhill, though the descent on Orr Springs is very steep and the new pavement without a yellow line was like a ribbon/noodle. There were several signs telling us to slow down due to very sharp turns.

  • 0:49:00 I pass John climbing Orr Springs Road

  • 1:08:00 John passes me descending on the first small descent on Orr Springs Road

  • 1:10:00 John follows me on the descent. He had taken a left turn on a gravel road and realized that was not the right way.

  • 1:15:00 The course flattens out and temperatures really drop

  • 1:22:00 John passes me again

Thanks for taking time to read this report and view the video!

Michelle Nightengale

Splunk Race Team


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