Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rocky Mountain Roubaix 2014 report

Oh hey I have a page about biking, don't I? Well I've been riding my bikes occasionally and did a race yesterday. Going into it I wasn't expecting great results because I was really lazy over the winter and did not get the same training miles in as last year. A few trips up pattee canyon confirmed my lack of fitness but last week I was at least feeling most of the way back. Checking the registration list I saw some names of guys that had been kicking my ass in group rides and on strava which further reduced my confidence in a good finish.

The weather was the other thing I wasn't so excited about. 40 degrees with rain in the forecast, plus it had been raining all week so I had a feeling the 8 or so miles of dirt on the course weren't going to be in great shape. It ended up not raining on us, but the course was very wet and muddy, which made for some exciting moments.

As for the layout, the course leaves frenchtown headed west on the frontage road, goes up 6 mile road to the ranger station, takes a left down to ninemile house, goes back up ninemile road, then takes another left and returns to frenchtown. Total for cat 5 is 31mi while the higher categories do extra laps around remount/ninemile road. Shortly after turning up toward the ranger station the road turns to dirt, while the roads to and from ninemile house near the river are paved, although not very smooth.

For the first half of the race things stuck together pretty well. The pace out the frontage road was fairly brisk given the headwind and I think faster than last year. They we started up toward the ranger station and things strung out a little, but main group stayed together down around ninemile house and back up to the turn onto dirt. That's where things usually break up as we hit the hilly section. Here's the profile:

At the top of that first little climb there were about 5 riders that had pulled a gap on me and I'm thinking, "well, that's it for me I guess," because there was still climbing to do and I figured they would all pull even farther ahead to the frontage road. I bombed down the hill, managed to stay upright on the slick muddy surface and caught back up. Over the next series of rollers we split into three groups of two, with me and a team mate in the middle. From the top of that hill it is down to the pavement and then the frontage road with a tailwind back into town, and my goal was more to stay ahead of the guys chasing me than it was to catch up to the leaders. I stayed tucked and off the brakes through more muddy washboard, really pushed it around some sharp corners, and Todd and I worked together to stay ahead of the guys chasing us. As a bonus I had made ground on Ian in 2nd place, but 1st had widened the gap.

Turning onto Roman creek road for the finishing climb we lost that nice tailwind and then Todd couldn't hang on. I didn't think I was going to be able to catch Ian and was starting to feel content with 3rd place. But then we hit the hill and I was still gaining, and we came to a y-intersection with some random dirt road and Ian slowed down a bit wondering which way to go. He pointed his arm left and I think I yelled "yeah! that's right," but I suppose using the word "right" was a poor choice of words. He started to go right and I yelled and pointed him in the "correct" direction.

Shortly after that I pulled even, and he told me the leader had taken that wrong turn so suddenly I'm in a race for 1st as we pass the 300m sign. We stood up to climb the last steep section of hill around the last curve at the same time, and I'm still thinking I'm not going to beat Ian, but found myself pulling ahead and then sat back down to roll the last few yards to the line. I'm still shocked it turned out that way, and it gives me a win at the roubaix for the 2nd year in a row along with a much better than expected start to the racing season.

Here's a shot of me at the finish line:

And my not so clean bike and feet:

Next race is on the mountain bike in Helena, which I'm looking forward to. I've never raced XC before or ridden out there so it will all be new. Maybe I should do a pre-ride?