Well, another edition of the Barry-Roubaix “Killer Gravel Road Race” is in the books! This was my 2nd annual pilgrimage, while Steve Webber & Arlen Spicer made their 1st trek over to Hastings in Michigan’s lower peninsula (just SE of Grand Rapids). The race features 24, 36 and 62 mile options. Even though we’ve had very little outdoor training this year, if you’re going to drive 10 hours round-trip, you almost have to do the 62, right? So we were all entered into the 62 mile Masters (40+) category, which rolled out of downtown Hastings @ 11:03 am. First a word about the weather. The forecast called for partly sunny skies with temperatures in the low 40’s. But in reality, skies were overcast, winds were brisk, the air was damp and we never got above 35 degrees. Typical. Back to the race. There really isn’t a “rollout” in this event. It’s pretty much all out from the sound of the horn. About 2-3 miles of pavement leading out of town, then there’s a sharp and fast right hand turn into a downhill gravel section. Pretty chaotic to say the least. This also happened to be the wettest portion of the course. Last year’s race was even colder, which meant frozen & fast gravel. That experience led me to make an interesting bike choice for this year’s event. I decided to ride my Cannondale CAAD10 with Kenda Karv 28’s as tires. I figured if the gravel was firm, I could hang on until the pavement, where I could roll fast & easy. Oops. The sloppiness of the 1st gravel section blew that plan. So I pretty much lost contact with the lead groups early. But other than that early slop, the rest of the gravel sections were pretty firm. So the bike handled just fine, and I could bridge up to other riders pretty easily during the pavement sections. But given a “do-over”, I’d probably ride the Ridley X-Fire. Live & learn.
Another thing I need to work on is water bottle retention. I managed to keep both bottles in their cages for about 30 miles. Then one was launched during a nasty pot-holed stretch. And of course it WASN’T the empty one. So I was without hydration for the last 30 miles of the race (just like last year). After the race, Arlen showed me his home-made water bottle straps. Pretty ingenious. Once again, live & learn.
But after getting dropped early, I just concentrated on getting a good ride under my belt. Despite the weather, it sure was nice to ride outside for a few hours. I’m stating the obvious, but this winter and early spring has been gawd-awful. Here’s hoping that things improve SOON.
So when all was said & done, I crossed the line in 3:42 (45th place). That was 27 minutes slower than last year. But times in general were slower. Robbie Ventura (yes, THAT Robbie Ventura) won the Masters category this year in 3:13, while last year’s champ came in @ 3:07. As for Steve & Arlen, they did awesome. Steve finished in 3:26 and Arlen posted a 3:24, good for 29th and 12th respectively. Great job guys! And they’re hooked, we were already talking about getting a team entry for next year. We need 5 riders minimum to field a team. Mark your calendars!
Results link: http://www.raceservices.com/14/BRX/62.html