Back in the 1990s, one of my favorite TV shows was Mystery Science Theater 3000. The show was about a man trapped in a spaceship with a couple of wise-cracking robots, all of whom were forced by a mad scientist to watch bad science fiction and monster movies. The premise was absurd, but the humor was razor sharp. With dozens of obscure pop culture references per episode, MST3K was not for everyone. When the show’s writers debated amongst themselves whether anyone would get the jokes, series creator Joel Hodgson assured them that “the right people” would.
So it is with Cheesehead Roubaix: the right people get it.
In April 2010, Cheesehead Roubaix made its debut as special event on the calendar of the Washington County Bicycle Club. And it was hugely unpopular. The very idea of running a metric century over the worst roads I could find was almost comically out of sync with the prevailing mood of the club. But I was sure I had something; I just needed to find the right audience.
I made changes to the route in 2011 and 2012, adding more unpaved roads as I discovered them and moving the start/finish from tiny Goeden County Park to Newburg Fireman’s Park. The ride got bigger, but it was still mostly a word-of-mouth thing for the hard men. In 2013, it exploded! With a record attendance of almost 100 riders, a rest stop sponsored by Belgianwerkx, cowbell-ringing fans and great action shots by Moroder Photography, Cheesehead Roubaix was a big deal.
At 9 a.m. on Sunday, April 27, the 5th Annual Cheesehead Roubaix should be bigger still. We will travel the same great route that we used last year: 63 total miles with about 10 miles of gravel or dirt roads. There will be more than 2,000 feet of climbing but it could be the wind that wears you out. Or it could be your fellow riders. Registration at the Facebook event page suggests another record turnout, including some of the strongest riders in Wisconsin. Cheesehead Roubaix is not a race, but many riders will use it to test themselves. You are welcome to ride as fast or as slow as you like, and your first priorities should be safety and fun. Just last week, a couple of volunteers stepped forward to offer SAG vehicle support for the ride. You won’t be all alone out there, but you still should exercise all of the precautions you would normally take on open public roads.
As always, the event will be free of charge. But if you enjoy Cheesehead Roubaix, then please drop a little cash in the donations jar for the Newburg Fire Department. The all-volunteer organization operates on a small budget and your donations will help it to maintain Fireman’s Park. Belgianwerkx once again will sponsor the rest stop, Moroder Photography will be back to capture all the action, and there will be a few new surprises on the route to add to the atmosphere.
So, are you one of the right people? If you are inspired by classic one-day races like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, then Cheesehead Roubaix is the ride for you.
A native of Pittsburgh PA, Dave Hanrahan is an information technology professional who lives in West Bend with his wife and two children. In 2003 he started riding a mountain bike around town for exercise, then quickly fell in love with the sport. Now he rides 5,000 miles per year and does a mix of road, mountain bike and cyclocross racing. Dave writes regularly at http://bikewashco.blogspot.com/