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Hotdish Recap: Climbs, Cramps, & Coke on Chris Stindt's 100K

The second annual Hotdish 100 recently took place in Winona Minnesota. Riders got full scoop of Minnesota culture and Driftless gravel on their choice of three distances. Chris Stindt chose his his tires the night before the race, forgot to get groceries, left late, and has a great story to tell about his 100K ride.

Words by Chris Stindt

This summer was feeling a little quiet, but things lined up nicely for me to attend my newest local gravel race, the Hotdish 100.

Chase Wark is a gravel pro who lives nearby in Winona, and offered this race for the second time. I have appreciated Chase participating and supporting the local events I’ve put on, so I was excited to return the favor.

I said things lined up, but that basically means we didn’t have weekend plans out of town, and my wife didn’t say NO when I asked if I could go. However, she had work and volunteer plans involving our only automobile, so I had to decide if I wanted to catch a ride to the 100 mile race, starting at 7 am, or possibly consider the 100k at 9 am.

Side note, Chase Wark is a bit of a beast on the bike, and earlier this summer he rode to, raced, and won a 100 mile gravel event.

I decided to pay homage to him, and ride over to the 100k, race it, and then either bum a ride home or maybe even ride back.

Alas…I am not Chase, as I’d soon find out. Or rather, be reminded of.

I mapped out the route to the start, and then started thinking about actually racing. Chase shared a pre-race email about the course and said it was mostly hero gravel, with some fresh grading. I used my one ‘email a race director an annoying question’ and asked him if 35 slicks or 38 semi-slicks would be better. He said the 35 everywhere except the fresh. I had more follow ups, but as an event director myself, I knew not to bother him the day before the event with minutiae. Yes, I was figuring out my tires the day before.

And...I went with the slicks.

I’m ok in loose stuff, plus I wanted to go fast, oh and I had to ride 24 miles to the start.

In the morning, things didn’t go exactly perfect. We hadn’t gotten groceries for a while. I don’t know why I didn’t realize we were out of eggs. No fried egg, egg sandwich, waffles, pancakes, nor milk for cereal.

Sheesh. Finally found something, got myself together, and left 10 minutes late. Not a big deal, but I wasn’t exactly sure how long it would take to get to the start. Oh and then I remembered that there was construction on the main road I mapped out, and I needed to go around. Not a huge deal. Oh, and it was head wind the whole way there, and I wasn’t going super slow, but I was on 35c mondo endurance tires.

I didn’t panic, but I did start to push the pace a little. I also couldn’t get my GPS to sync, so I was going off of memory, and couldn’t tell how far away I was.


Got there with 16 minutes to spare. I rolled up, got my number, chatted with Chase, thanked his fiance for all her support (I know how these things go and that means she did a lot), ditched my backpack and bar bag, loaded up my snacks and water, and rolled out to the start line with 2 minutes to spare. Whew!

The first climb is nicely paved. The 100k is really about 60 miles, with 4500 feet of climbing or so. I am at the front doing a little work, but eventually when no one comes around I basically soft pedal until someone else comes by.

We all chill for a second and then someone attacks finally.

A small group gets away over the top, but typical for a bike race, no one wants to work together, and the stragglers catch back up. As we hit the second hill I realize it’s the one that was freshly graded. It’s also got up over 18% gradient, which combined with any gravel, and loose soil plus slick tires…well it was hard.

I went full gas, and at the top looked back to see no one behind me!

So I decided to roll it. Silly, really, in retrospect, but at the time I figured why not try. However, the top was rolling and the group finally started taking turns working together and I watched them get closer every time I looked back. Finally I sat up to eat and drink, and jumped on the train when it came by. I decided to play it smart and wait until later climbs to break away.

The rest of the ride was classic rural Minnesota Driftless gravel. Fantastic!

We went down a MMR (Minimum Maintenance Road) outside Lewiston that was…very interesting. Baby head sized rocks, steep loose gravel, ruts, and leaves covering much of it up. Turns out it was a decisive downhill that eventually split up the group. I caught a couple guys and started to drop them on the next climb back up. I caught one more guy and we worked together over the top, but the two behind caught us, and we all four rode together into Winona at race leaders.

And then the cramps hit.

Turns out I’m no neo-pro, and my legs are very mortal, ha! I kept shaking them and stretching, as our group grew by a couple more.

Eventually one of the catchers launched a little attack leaving town and my legs seized up, and I watched everyone ride away.

I spoke unkindly to my legs and shook them a lot and stood and sat, and eventually pedaled my way back to the first two stragglers.

I saw 2nd place ahead on the final hill, but at this point there wasn’t anything left in my legs. I slowly made my way up, onto the pavement, and back down the final paved descent. It was great!

At the finish I was out of fluids, and a bit toasty. I thanked Chase, and then chugged a Coke, immediately followed by a lemonade. I don’t think I’ve ever had two sodas in 2 minutes in my whole life.

I grabbed a root beer to go, did a quick podium shot, and decided to try riding home. I felt okay, until halfway up the first gravel climb when my right leg fully locked up.

I called Anna, and agreed to meet her. I thought maybe I’d still get to 100 miles.

Slowly up the climb and across the ridge, with a nice tailwind, I was cruising along when boom both legs locked up.

I stood for awhile, but realized I couldn’t coast all the way home, so I accepted my ride.

Woof! 97 miles.

Just a great all around day, playing bikes. If you get a chance - do the Hotdish! And ride some driftless gravel, it does not disappoint. I’m really glad I got to see some new roads, and maybe next year I’ll just to the 100 mile event.

תגובה אחת

Fun read! I may have laughed out loud a few times.

I live in Winona and am grateful to have those gravel roads in my “backyard”.

IMO all 3 distances at Hotdish are spectacular and I hope even more people ride it in 2024.




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