Monday, May 29, 2017

Rocky Mountain Roubaix

I think the Rocky Mountain Roubaix is Montana's longest running bike race, and it was the first real road race I ever entered. Road racing has been in a bit of a decline around here, with more people opting to race mountain bikes and cyclocross, or just ride for fun instead. The wednesday series' are inexpensive, easy, and fun. Traveling to road races, on the other hand, tends not to be. You have to drive across the state, spend a bunch of money, and often spend the day suffering alone on the road. Then half the racers have left the time the awards start. I'm starting to think that having free beer and a bbq or something is key to good racer turnout.

Anyway, I've done the roubaix 5 times now, but since it's about our only road race I have been stuck in category 4. Next time I buy a license, I do get to upgrade to 3, but haven't had a reason to do that because most of our races, including the roubaix this year, don't require one. Like the Hell Ride, this was done as a "gran fondo." So there was the choice of the A race of 70 miles or B race of 40 miles. Having always been in the "B" race as a 4/5, this was my chance to move up ride with the fast guys.

Last year it was pouring rain and miserable. The dirt sections were slick mud and you couldn't see where you were going. It ruined all the bearings and cables and housings on my caad 9 and that was the last time I ever rode it since the crack in the chainstay had been growing. This year the forecast looked decent- just cloudy with possible showers. So of course in the morning it was raining, but I felt optimistic. Then I got to frenchtown, and it was still raining, and looked like it was raining on the course. So, yeah, it rained again. And was cold.

We started rolling and I was thinking, "I should have worn my jacket," and then "I should have brought my cross bike instead." We hit the dirt on six mile and mud was flying everywhere, it was slippery, it was cold, you could barely see where you were going. Shaun got a flat immediately and was right by the aid station so he just called it right there. I kept going, but was thinking about stopping and turning around to keep from trashing my fancy new bike in the mud and wet. But I kept going. After a lap my fingers were frozen, because I was just wearing thin gloves, and I was starting to get worried about it (but I will note that di2 is super helpful in such a situation). Climbing back up ninemile helped me warm up a bit, but I was planning to quit as soon as I got dropped by the lead group. It almost happened a few times on the 40mph muddy descent to the ranger station but I managed to catch back on. We kept going around, every lap the group was smaller, and I was still there. The rain let up and it seemed to get warmer, and my fingers started to work again.

At some point Elliot and Kevin broke away off the front, but Steven Davis (a pro), kept us organized and chasing so they never got too far ahead. I think on lap 4 of 5 I there were 7 of us and then Toby dropped off. Climbing the dirt before the ranger station on the last lap we lost Charlie and Rob. So it was down to me, Steven, Andrew Frank, and Justin, chasing the two leaders who were in sight. You descend to the ranger station, and then have to climb back up a bit before dropping down to the pavement of six mile and the ride back into the finish. This is where the last of us broke up. Steven and Justin bridged up to Elliot and Kevin, but Andrew and I didn't quite make it. He was just ahead of me on the way down and then Charlie caught back up. We chased back in but Charlie was hurting, and I left him behind trying to catch Andrew. That was the order and I rolled across the line in 6th. Justin ended up winning the 4 man sprint.

Myke Hermsmeyer was out taking pictures and has a big gallery here on facebook:

Here are a few that I like:

Conditions were similar to last year, so I dressed similar to last year. Long sleeve base layer under a regular jersey, knee warmers, no jacket. And regular gloves, no shoe covers. Last year I had shoe covers and warmer gloves and it wasn't quite as cold. Warmer everything would have been a better choice (as long as it kept drag to a minimum).

All I had over the course of the race was about 1.5 bottles of water and 8 shot blocks. I really had planned on eating and drinking more, and carried third water bottle in my back pocket the whole way around, because, well, you'd think 2 bottles wouldn't be enough for 70 miles. That has me wondering about the last climb where we broke up. If I had drank another bottle, eaten a few more shot blocks, had a bar, would I have been able to hang on? Still, I am pretty happy with my finish. I even won a shark for "most aggressive rider." although to be honest pretty much all I did was hang onto the back.

Oh, and I mentioned that last year it trashed my bike. The SuperSix held up better but did not make it through unscathed. My rear wheel bearings were destroyed, rear wheel was out of true, bottom bracket clicks, brake pads were worn all the way down, rear brake housing/cable is not in great shape, and the headset was pretty gunked up. I should probably replace the chain too. I will say the di2 kept shifting flawlessly in the mud when others were having issues. And the vittoria open pave 27s were awesome as usual.

That is about the end of road season, even wed worlds is on hold for another month because the Wed XC races have started.

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