Brad, on a training ride at the Intervale Center in Burlington, VT in preparation for the Rasputista Gravel Bicycle Race. Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.
Brad, on a training ride at the Intervale Center in Burlington, VT. Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.
Brad has some fun on a training ride at the Intervale Center in Burlington, VT in preparation for the Rasputista Gravel Bicycle Race. Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.
Brad has some fun on a training ride at the Intervale Center in Burlington, VT. Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.

What is Rasputista?

Broke, Rad, Athletic, and Determined. Sure, the first letters of all those words spell out my first name, but that’s all you need to be a part of one of Vermont’s gnarliest gravel road races. As a college kid for only 25 dollars I somehow made a joke into a reality and will find myself on the starting line of the 2019 Rasputista Spring Classic! The race is set for Saturday, April 27 in Burke, Vermont.

So…what exactly is Rasputista? Rasputista is a 45-mile road race and for all the mathematically inclined people out there that’s 211,200 feet of pure dirt roads. All of which can be found in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. On their website they advertise it as, “It’s not about the racing. It’s about challenging the human spirit.” 

So...I mean for every novice in this whole gravel racing thing like me, I guess this is a great first race to start at! I mean what is the worst thing that could happen here!? It’s not like I’ll be racing on wet roads, in the cold, in Northeast Vermont in a few silly layers of spandex or anything. To be quite honest I’m not quite sure what I’m getting myself into, but I guess that’s what makes it so fun and intriguing.

Brad showing off the Skirack branded bike jersey, which he will wear for the Rasputista Gravel Bicycle Race (be on the look out for it!). Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.
Brad showing off the Skirack branded bike jersey, which he will wear for Saturday's race (be on the look out for it!). Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.

A Little About Me!

For me cycling has always been a place where I could flip the script of “What if” to “I can” and has been a place to test my limits as an athlete. I’ve loved it so much that I’ve raced at a high level of mountain biking for a good portion of my life. I love the sport of mountain biking because it allows me to be in the moment and think about nothing except for the dirt that lies ahead. Here in the state of Vermont, lies some of the best trails in the country and it allows for the best adult playground of all time. After multiple injuries however, my mom said I need to do something safer and this was the most logical progression I could think of.

Race Prep!

How exactly does someone prepare for something like Rasputista? Some factors that will make this race challenging is the fact that its cold, damp and long.

With that means I need to have equipment in which I can trust. That’s why I looked no further than the Skirack Bike Rental Department for a Specialized Diverge. This bike is the perfect tool for the job because it comes with Future Shock. This is a tiny little spring located in headset of the bike that allows for dampening of the terrain beneath me. Which allows the ride to be smoother and allow for more energy to be put into each pedal stroke rather than keeping myself upright. Along with the Diverge, I will be rolling on Specialized’s Tracer Sport Tires. These tires will be perfect for the muddy conditions I will encounter during this race. The best part of these tires is that they are clinchers so just in case I get a flat it won’t be a problem because I can quickly fix it with my spare tube located in my swat box.

As for clothing for the bottom half I plan on wearing long bib pants to make sure my legs stay nice and warm for the early morning cold temp. In order to keep the piggies warm I plan on duck taping the vent holes in my riding shoes to limit the amount of water and wind that could get to my feet. Nothing beats dry warm feet and that's why I looked no further than Darn Tough Sock's Hiker Crew with Cushion. Not only are these socks warm but they do a really good job at keeping my feet dry in all conditions. To top it off I plan on putting Specialized’s neoprene boot covers over my shoes to give me an extra layer against the elements. For the top half of my body I plan on wearing a thick baselayer to keep my arms and core nice and toasty. In order to increase style points I will top off my super pro looking kit with Skirack’s very own mountain bike jersey.

Brad getting some speed on the Specialized Diverge from Skirack's Rental Department. Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.
Brad getting some speed on the Specialized Diverge from Skirack's Rental Department. Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.

Training!

Even though some say you've got to look pro to be pro the only way you are truly going to be like the pros is by putting in the effort during the off season. As for training I like to approach it with a more freestyle kind of way. All winter long I found myself doing long ski tours to solidify a base for the riding season. Come riding season I switch training to more cycling specific workouts. To do this I make sure to get at least three gym sessions in a week and try to get out and ride at least 4 times a week. When I go to the gym, I work on cycling specific exercises that focus on strengthening my legs as well as core. That mixed in with actual riding I’ve found is the recipe for success.

When it comes to actually riding, I try and base what I will do for the day off my mood and weather conditions. If the weather is raining, which happens often this time of the year in Vermont, I may find myself on the trainer. If the weather is beautiful and sunny, I may try and get out for a longer ride to soak in all of the vitamin D. If I am feeling kind of sluggish, I try to make the ride about the views and head out to Shelburne point. If I am feeling energetic, I may incorporate some speed workout into my rides. By doing this I’ve found that it keeps me motivated and wanting to keep riding my bike.

Can't Wait to Send It!

As each day passes, I find myself becoming more and more excited to finally be able to send it! I can’t wait to finally kick the 2019 cycling season off with a race I’ve never done before and being able to push my limits. For me the focus won’t be set on winning, rather how much fun I can have during the race and the size of the smile on my face after finishing. At the end of the day it’s about the smiles and laughs you get to share with people who have similar passions as you do. A race results only last for that event while the memories last a life time.

Just keep spinning.

- Brad Tasik,
Skirack Service Specialist
Click here to learn more about Brad.

Click here to read Brad's follow up blog post: "Rasputista 2019: Falsifying the Truths"