What an incredible, epic day! It’s hard to believe what started as a small group (4 riders) only 3 years ago has grown to what we witnessed today. I’m not sure what the exact head-count was, but there were at least 100 participants who gathered at Fireman’s Park in Newburg for this year’s edition of Cheesehead Roubaix. Our host, David Hanrahan, plotted this 63 mile course thru parts of Washington & Ozaukee Counties, finding the hidden gravel gems that would mimic the Spring Classic races of Belgium, France & Italy. We rolled out at 9 am, under overcast skies with temperatures in the 50’s. We soft-pedaled out of Newburg and into the beautiful Washington County countryside. But the ride changed dramatically at mile 8, when we hit the first, and most difficult of the gravel sections: LOVERS LANE! Big ruts and bigger potholes awaited us, not to mention a nasty climb. However, we were greeted with a taste of Belgium, as cheerleaders came to encourage us with the flags of Belgium & Flanders, cowbells, and an un-named supporter sporting a horse head. Quite the scene!
Back on pavement, the group came together, and the miles rolled by. One more gravel section rattled our teeth prior to our arrival in the village of Belgium, and the BELGIANWERKX sponsored rest stop. Big thanks go out to Bill Dredge, Jeremy Moroder and Erica Kennedy for helping set-up and staff the stop. The fuel was appreciated, as were the restroom facilities, graciously opened by the village. After a few minutes of re-supplying and stretching, it was back on the course. This is when things got a bit more serious. A contingent from Sheboygan really pushed the pace, and the one big happy group was now shattered. But that’s the beauty of this event. It’s for EVERYONE. Those who want to hammer off the front can, while others can dial back the pace and enjoy the wonderful route that Dave put together. Speaking of the route, I’ve been biking these roads for years, yet today’s ride was a revelation. I had no idea that these gravel sections existed! This course map will be a permanent download on my Garmin! So back to the ride. The 2nd half of the course had several gravel “sectors” that put a serious dent in the Belgianwerkx water bottle supply. Bottles were launching while bouncing thru the rim-swallowing potholes. I hope the farmers don’t mind the souvenirs we left them. The last of these sections on St. Augustine Rd. finished at mile 59, and the last 4 miles of pavement was a welcome relief back down into Newburg.
In the end, all I can say is WOW. That’s the most fun I’ve had on a bike in a long time. THANK YOU DAVID HANRAHAN! This so pure. No registration, no race numbers, no waiver signing, no license. Just a great ride with great people.
Enjoy all the great photos taken by Paul Moroder of Moroder Photography. Thank you Paul, and your trusty assistant Bob Poull. I can’t wait ‘til next year!