Monday, March 9, 2009

Rouge Roubaix

If this race could be summed up in one word it would be epic.  This 102-mile road race was far from just a 102-mile road race.  It came complete with three significant dirt sections, miles and miles of pot-hole and gravel covered crappy roads, some nice roads, and some lovely swamp-filled scenery.  The only other off-road race I've done (besides a couple MTB races) has been Tunis Roubaix during my first year on the bike.  It ended with a cracked frame.  Well, this race ended much nicer.

We started at 8:15am, rolling out during a foggy drizzle of 70+ degree weather with Men's 4's, 5's, Master's and Women's Open category.  I have no idea how many people there were in our group because the 5 of us Metro girls started in the front and really never left the front part of the group.  The first dirt section was a fine sand, 25 miles into the race, and about 10-12 miles long.  Seriously, you were fish-tailing it most of the time.  Probably the most nerve racking for me of the three dirt sections.  Just kept on pedaling though.  Most people made it through the first one together.  I missed the first of 3 feeds I'd miss that day.  Not much happened between then and the second dirt section.  

The second dirt section (65 miles in) had more gravel and loose dirt than fine sand.  It also had a pretty large and steep hill that pretty much tore the race into pieces.  Casey and Ashley, our little climbers made it to the top in the front, I was only 50m back, but couldn't bridge up to that group on my own.  Maybe 5-10 minutes later Shannon, Andrea, Shontelle, and a couple others paced up to me (Shannon had to run up the hill after hitting some particularly deep gravel- bummer) and we rotated fairly evenly.  Eventually a larger group caught up to us with a Kenda girl.  Shannon and I just chilled in the back and waited for the last dirt section.  

Shannon and I went to the front right before we hit it (~75 miles in).  This section was much rockier and since it was only steep climbs, it was much harder to keep gripped to the road.  Since we started in front and drilled it up the climb, we dropped everyone except Shontelle.  The main focus in that section was not crashing as the decents on gravel were as steep as the climbs.  I opted to coast on the downhills instead of trying to push the pace and crash.  It made me lose some time to Shontelle, but there was a good 18 miles to go after the last dirt section before the finish.  

Shannon and I TTT-ed up to Shontelle after sharing some Gatorade given to us from the lead vehicle and downing it at 29mph (life-saver).  We caught up to her and opted for an easier pace since there was no one behind us.  At some point, Shannon's rear derailler broke...and all of a sudden she wasn't there anymore.  Shontelle drilled it at that point and I just sat on.  Well, my sprinting power isn't quite the match for Shontelle, so she got that (I was pretty blown by that point), putting her in 3rd and me in 4th.  Shannon was luckily able to still ride that broken derailler and get 5th.  Andrea double flatted after hitting a massive pothole and after changing both flats, she got 9th.  But most exciting of all, Casey and Ashley were able to go 1 and 2 respectively!  Obviously, since we weren't all together, they'd be much better at telling their story, so go check out their blogs!!

Our men did well too, Christian won, Dalheim was 2nd, Peter was 5th, Benji was 7th, and the rest managed Top 20!  A good weekend for Metro for sure!!

Thanks to Andre and the mechanic for keeping us watered, fed, and on well-working bikes!!

To understand the craziness of the race, check out this video: 

Well, this is my last week of classes before Spring Break.  While many of my classmates will be heading to the beach for some party action, I'll be heading California with my team to race San Dimas and then taking an extra week of Spring Break and racing Redlands.  It'll make for a long school week this week, as I'll have two weeks of work to do in the next four days but it'll be worth it! 

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