I just made it back from Hastings, MI where I experienced my first Barry-Roubaix Killer Gravel race. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make the 10 hour round trip for a 3+ hour race, but I’m glad I did. IT WAS FREAKIN’ AWESOME! Despite temperatures that started out at 28 degrees, and maybe topped out at 31, this was an event that was different (in a good way) from anything I’ve ever done. At least 60% of the the 62 mile course was gravel with quite a bit of elevation change. But what made the gravel even more challenging was the hard-pack ice found on much of it. I opted for my Velocity Major Tom tubular wheelset with Clement PDX cyclocross tires. Boy, I’m glad I ran those. The grip was amazing, and the ice didn’t bother me at all. The gravel was frozen and rutted and pot-holed, so the ride was a bit bumpy to say the least. But the old Redline Conquest Team took the beating. I’m really looking forward to getting my Ridley X-Fire later this year, but the Redline will be a great “B” bike.
I tested out a new toy for the race, a Garmin EDGE 510 bike computer. It’s GPS and Bluetooth enabled, so you’re able to download the data instantly to your Garmin Connect account through your smartphone. And if you have your phone on the ride, you can use Livetrack to share the ride real-time with friends via an email link or Facebook. Amazing (and scary) technology. I’m still getting to know all the bells & whistles, but you should definitely check this out at the shop. Nick can explain the features much better than I. I need to add heartrate and/or power to this to fully realize the potential. But take a look at the attached Garmin ride profile of my race and you can see how cool the technology is.
Now back to the race. I started in Wave 2, which was Masters Men 40+. There was NO rollout. It was racing full out right at the gun. That’s not real easy when it’s 28 degrees and you’ve been staging for 15 minutes. But after a couples miles on pavement we hit the gravel. CRAZY. Riders going down on the ice left and right. Water bottles EVERYWHERE. I grabbed a strong wheel and we weaved our way through the carnage. After hitting pavement I hooked up with a good group of 10 – 12 guys, which held together for most of the race. I lost one of my water bottles and a couple of gels during the bumps, so I was getting gassed near the end and cramping a bit. But I held with the group, took my share of pulls and was happy with the result. We came across the line at 3:15, the young studs who won were at 2:49.
After the race, the party got rocking. One of the major sponsors is Founders Brewery, and their products were flowing. Good food was also plentiful, and everyone was having a great time following a GREAT race. I highly recommend this event. Perhaps we can get a group together next year? DEFINITELY put this one on your “must-do” list!