Roubaix Wrap-up

13 Apr

Well, another week has disappeared!  I meant to write this much sooner, but here I am, typing away on a Friday night.  Exciting!  At least with a Sunshine Wheat in hand, this doesn’t feel like work!

Because I waited so long to write, I now don’t remember really what I had wanted to say.  I finished 17th out of 20 in my Cat 5 field (19-34), and probably would have been about 42nd out of 51 if both groups were together.  Certainly not stellar as far as numbers go, but I can definitely say I’m very happy to not finish last, and not crashing is always a success too.  I finished last in my very first race a couple of years ago, and while I understand that’s fairly common for many folks in their first race, once is usually enough.

Less than 100 meters from the finish!

The pace started off faster than expected, and by this point, I should quit expecting slow starts.  I guess I just expect people to ease into things a bit more, resulting in feeling sorely disappointed every time.  On the plus side, I felt a quick wave of relief when another racer dropped off  my wheel less than a mile in.  Once that happens, catching up takes huge amounts of effort, and maybe some luck.  I had to keep telling myself to push it, because I also knew that my grip on the group was quite tenuous.  I was fighting with all I had to stay on to the back.  I kept my pace up, but got caught out in the wind with so few riders around me.  I kept dropping further off, but seeing other guys ahead of me also dropping off from the main group, I knew I could find some company if I worked hard enough.  After gritting my teeth and pushing through, I caught up to one rider and we started working together.  Not too much further on, we caught another, and had three to share the burden now.  Around this point another group passed us, but I’m not sure what race they were a part of (with the size of the loop, 18.7 miles, the officials staggered race starts by a few minutes each, putting a lot of riders on the course at one time).  We pushed on over the bumps and dirt, but around mile eleven, we crossed the one-lane bridge and headed up a short, punchy climb, like something you might find in Iowa (for those familiar with that terrain).  I lost the group here, and in retrospect, I should have unloaded everything I had to stay on.  Easier said than done, though.  I think about four of the remaining seven miles were on dirt, and almost all felt uphill.  I just kept pushing to not get passed by anyone, though I actually had no idea how close any other riders were.  I kept checking periodically and didn’t see anyone behind, and that motivated me enough to keep going.

I really enjoyed the course, and glad that the ol’ Race Machine withstood all the bumps out there.  The dirt roads were smooth enough to cruise along, and with the relative lack of gravel, I felt steady through most turns.

The Pro/1/2 men roll out.

Lessons learned from Boulder Roubaix – get faster going up hills, and be ready to go fast right from the start (haven’t learned this one yet from my other experiences).

In the Sunday edition at Paris-Roubaix, Tom Boonen won for the fourth time, tying him for the all-time wins at that race.  He’s having a great season, but last I read, he had to sit out this weekend’s Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands.  If that’s not enough racing for you, the Fleche Wallonne is on Wednesday, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege is next Sunday, wrapping up the Spring Classics.  With Boonen’s recent big wins, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some other riders step into the spotlight, and based on payroll, I’m sure a couple of teams would really like some wins now (BMC especially).

Happy riding!

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