Teammate Arlen Spicer threw out an invitation to ride the entire Cheesehead Roubaix route this past Saturday. The weather forecast appeared to be decent, and many of us are tired of basement riding on the trainer. So 7 of us arrived at the Newburg Fire Department ready to roll.
Though chilly, with the ever-present breeze off the lake, the sun was shining and we kept a good pace through the first few miles out of Newburg. As anyone who has ridden the event knows, the infamous Lovers Lane arrives quickly. 8.5 miles into the ride, you hit a 1 mile long section of nastiness. It’s mostly uphill and you need to choose your line carefully. About ⅓ of the way up we came upon a washed out gully that that may not ever dry up. There are also some downed limbs and brambles thrown in for good measure. The ruts (aka valleys) were extremely muddy. When I saw Arlen & Robert Berry dismount, I figured it was a good idea for me to follow their lead. Chris Hill & David DeFilippes were probably regretting the skinny tires at this point. But once through, you can remount and slog up the rest of the climb without too much difficulty (especially Juan, who climbs like a goat). At the peak we re-grouped at the Saint John of God chapel. Here we found Arlen’s face dripping with blood. Apparently he had tangled with the aforementioned brambles. We all had a pretty good laugh at Arlen’s expense. After clearing some mud from wheels, brakes & shoes we rolled on.
The next 12 miles are pavement, mostly east towards the lake. Prior to pedaling into Belgium, there’s a fast gravel section on Willow Valley Rd. Still a bit sloppy in the shady sections, but that should dry out by Cheesehead. Once in Belgium, we stopped at a mini-mart for nature and food breaks. Arlen’s blood had dried by then, so we once again poked fun.
The middle third of the course is where you find the most concentrated sections of gravel. Silver Beach, Alder, Clay Ridge and Sauk Trail Roads all fly by in rapid succession. Sauk Trail Rd, which leads to the entrance of Harrington Beach State Park, had the most potholes in my opinion. I hit one pretty hard, and my handlebars slipped. Did you know that the sound made by carbon bars slipping sounds JUST LIKE the sound of carbon bars breaking? A wee bit unsettling. Anyhow, we stopped so I could readjust and off we went.
Pavement and 2 more gravel sections on Lovers Lane (different one) and Meadowlark Rd take you into Fredonia. After winding thru Waubedonia Park, we follow pavement to the final gravel sector of the day. Blue Goose and St. Augustine Rds flow thru the UWM Field Study Center at the Cedarburg Bog. One of my favorites in the area. This is dry and fast, but you need to mind your line as there are a handful of teeth rattling pot holes.
At this point you have 5 miles of rolling tarmac back to Newburg. I’m of the opinion that this should be a nice easy spin back to the car. But Arlen, David & Juan thought otherwise. The last hill of the day is Congress Drive. Apparently that is where the 2 mile sprint to the Fire Dept. begins. Needless to say, I did not “podium”.
Back in the parking lot we changed, packed up, chuckled at Arlen (again) and said our good byes. A great day on a fun course with a good group. Let’s do it again on Sunday April 29th for the 2018 edition of the Cheesehead Roubaix! Once again hosted by our friend David Hanrahan, with the Belgium rest stop courtesy of Belgianwerkx.
Bill Koehler: Born & raised in Mequon, currently resides in Grafton with wife Jo. Passionate about bikes, enjoys Masters road, crit & cyclocross racing. But most of all, just loves RIDING!