The Powderhorn 24 has quickly become one of the premier local races since its inception in 2011, with a unique 24-hour endurance-focused format. Riders compete alone or in teams to complete as many 4.8 mile laps as they can within the time limit, circling Minneapolis’ picturesque neighborhood of Powderhorn.
Only the toughest cyclists dare to enter the race’s solo division, and the 2013 race marked the first time that a woman took first place in that category. That exemplary lady is Loretta Trevino, and she also happens to be a rider for The Hub’s cycling team. We caught up with her during her recovery period, which just so happened to include a grueling rowing practice earlier in the day.
Interview by Zach McCormick
The Hub: What do you do when you’re not on a bike?
Loretta Trevino: I’m a grad student at the University of Minnesota, I’m working on my PHD in Aerospace Engineering. I just moved here last year from Seattle, and I work at a small rocket company there. Jeff Bezos, the guy who owns Amazon, his side project is this rocket company because he wants to make space accessible to everybody. I work for them part time, but my full-time job is school right now. I just finished my 3rd year of what’s normally a 6 year program.
Are you involved with any athletics outside of cycling?
I’ve been rowing since college, and the rowing club here in Minneapolis is really good. The Masters crew wins nationals almost every year, and the ladies are amazing to row with. I hooked up with them when I moved here and have been rowing with them for a couple of seasons now.
Are you fairly active in competitive cycling locally?
I just started getting into the gravel races, my first gravel race was the Gentleman’s Ride last September. That was actually only the second century that I’d done ever, and I was a little intimidated by it. But my commute in Seattle was pretty far, so I got used to being on the bike a lot. My goal this year was to ride a century every month, so I started in January. It started out as a joke between my friend and I, but by the 3rd week in January we decided we had to do it before the cold front came in. We kept doing it, and P24 ended up being my 11th century.
But I’ve only really just done alleycats and gravel races, I haven’t gone into the big scene in cycling because I wasn’t sure if I was fit enough yet. Or at least, I wasn’t confident enough yet [laughs].
When did you transition from being a commuter to a more avid cyclist?
Probably since I moved back to Minneapolis this past year, in Seattle I really transformed from someone who just cycles to someone who goes on longer rides. There’s so many places to ride in Seattle, with the islands out there. I would go bike camping by myself for 3 or 4 days, I would just disappear and go around the islands. That’s when I started getting a lot of endurance and miles in, because it’s just so much freedom out there and so much to see. Lots of hills, and lots of climbing.
Was this your first P24?
No, actually! Last year I had literally lived in Minneapolis for less than 24 hours and someone dropped out of The Hub Women’s Team last minute. They contacted to ask if I had a bike and would join their team. One of my bikes wasn’t even put together, but we ended up winning by half a lap! That’s when I met The Hub, and I’ve raced for their team ever since.
Did you do any other training regimens outside of the centuries?
I think the rowing really helped me a ton, because that sport is like 80% mental and 20% training. You have to be really focused in the boat, and you go to the point of pain but you can’t lose your discipline. I knew this race was going to be all about keeping focused and not letting my surroundings affect how I was riding, and that’s the same thing I do in the boat. It’s all about running your own race, and not letting people who are lapping you affect how you’re riding. Once you start to get that kind of competitive, that’s when you start to lose, at least in endurance races.
Did you have a support team for the race?
[Laughs] Yes, my boyfriend Paul was my support crew. We had initially bought walkie-talkies so we could signal each other because we knew our phones were going to die, but I didn’t even need that , because every lap he was there asking me with what I needed. Constantly stuffing my back pockets with food or Shot Blocks, filling up my water bottle, giving me drugs when I needed them. I think there was 3 laps where I didn’t see him, and those were towards the end when he decided he needed to rest his eyes. Having his support was essential to doing well in this race!
Did you have a winning strategy going into the race that paid off for you?
I honestly had no idea how to pace myself, I’d never trained for a 24 hour race before. The most miles I’d done previously was 120. So I got myself going to a good cadence that my legs felt like they could do for a long time, and I never tried to accelerate too fast. Through the checkpoints, I never got off my bike, I just worked with the volunteers so that I never had to clip out. The last 6 hours I kept thinking “when am I gonna kick it in?” but I just kept resisting that urge. Finally when I finished my last bonus I had 80 minutes left and could do about 4 more laps in that time, so then I started pushing myself and I was miserable. Just that slight increase of speed was painful, and I wasn’t even that much faster. Then I kept craving Dairy Queen because it was on the corner that I kept passing!
I definitely feel like the last 6 hours were my strongest, because that’s when I started catching up. I don’t think I was in the lead until that afternoon, but I just started slowly increasing my speed and feeling better and better, and I could just see everyone else burning out. I just saved my gas until then end.
Paul kept telling me I was the 4th place lady, and I felt like the three faster ladies could all be top contenders. But then I kept catching up to some of the other guys doing solo and they’d say “oh, I’m in 3rd,” but I had 50 miles on them, so I really thought that for a majority of the race all the girls were winning. I was getting really excited and that was motivating me, but then I caught up to Lee Penn and realized that we had biked the same amount of miles. Then I caught up to Alex Ones and he said “you’re only a lap behind me and I’m in 1st right now!” I just didn’t think it could be possible!
I ended up timing those last bonus stops to where I didn’t have to wait in line, and a lot of the people got stuck at bonus stops waiting for a half hour! I would keep swinging by those stops, and if there was a line, I’d just go another lap. Eventually, there wasn’t a line!
What was it like when you realized that you’d won?
Honestly, the last hour I wasn’t thinking about anyone else. Going into the last stop, everyone was screaming and cheering and I got off my bike and threw it at my boyfriend and just started walking away. I just wanted to get out of my jersey and find a shower, but I had to ask Paul how I did. He said “Yeah, you won” and at first I thought he meant just the women’s division, but then he said “No, you WON” and I realized I had beaten Alex! I didn’t even believe it first, I had to go ask Alex myself! I honestly believe any of the top 3 women could have taken it though, I just had the most discipline.
What bike did you ride for the event?
I rode my Trek Madone. I called it my “car” in Seattle because that’s the first bike I ever bought when I got a job where I could afford one, months before I ever bought a vehicle. It’s a carbon road bike, and I haven’t been riding it a lot around town, my default bike is my All-City Macho Man, but for some reason that week the Macho Man was just not fitting me perfectly. I knew the Madone fit me like a glove, and I knew it would be the most comfortable, because that’s the bike I did all my bike camping on in Seattle. I’ve had that bike for 6 years, and it’s my baby. I thought it might be a little aggressive, and it sort of was because my lower back is killing me, but I just kept taking painkillers and stretching a bunch.
Want to give any shout-outs to your fellow racers?
Alex Ones is just an incredible human being. The whole time we were riding, he’d go through checkpoints and he’d ask the volunteers if they needed anything like “do you need any water? “And he was the one that had been riding his bike! But he was just so encouraging to everybody, even well over 300 miles.
Jessica, who’s won the past two years is also fantastic. She’s my riding partner and my inspiration, and unfortunately she had to drop out early on because of some back problems, but she never gives up. She’s the one who gave me the idea to try and hold back, but never ever stop.
How’s your recovery been?
I was actually fine…okay, my lower back’s been on lockdown but that’s just from overuse. I’ve gone to my personal trainer and they were like “what did you do to your body?” I think I’m probably going to take about two weeks to recover fully, but I’m doing a lot better than I thought I was going to be!
What’s up next for you?
I’m doing 3 gravel races in September, the first one is the inspiration 100, and then the Gentleman’s Ride, followed by Heck of the North. My goal is always just to do a little bit faster than I did the last time, I’m not going to be CAT 1 or anything like that, but I can always get faster!