Training Bible Cycling took on Barry Roubaix for the first time last weekend. The good the bad and the dusty:
Paul Hartner is a junior coached by our own Peter Kelley and has shown a boat load of promise. 2015 was his first season in cycling and Paul took to it immediately with a 3rd overall in the hyper-competitive junior class at the Chicago Cross Cup. After riding with him in the spring it became immediately evident that the kid will have no issues moving over to road. Tough as nails and power to burn.
He made the final selection of 4 at B-R, came around the last corner with the legs to scorch and crashed! Bummer for sure but Paul simply picked up the bike, walked across the line and secured a hard fought 4th overall. This and two consecutive wins in St. Louis in March are just the beginning. We’re expecting great things……
Pam Semanick and Angie Ridgel came out from Ohio, and were the impetus that convinced us that we had to check this thing out as it also gave us the chance to finally meet two of our favorite bike racers. While this wasn’t an objective for either they came through as always with a 14th and 16th respectively in the women’s 36 mile race.
Karyn Abraham also lined up for the 36 mile women’s event and was poised to nail a 5th overall. Unfortunately a mechanical ended her day but what a great indication of form for the season! Her coach was pumped and disappointed for her all at the same time. She should be proud that with a fairly complex family and work schedule she’s made it to the racing season in great form.
When my buddy kept telling me to give a gravel “race” a try it didn’t seem like something I’d want to do. The image conjured up was one of “PR’s” and epic personal battles, not the hard core tactical mayhem that bike racers crave. Our friends in Ohio, whom we’ve been wanting to visit for a while now, were going though so the opportunity to meet them face to face and get a good ride in made it worth the effort.
Holy cow was he right! That was one intense, hard, tactical and exciting bike race. Think killer road race with more chaos thrown in just because. We took off in the 63 mile open event surrounded by some regionally heavy hitters in the 200+ field and things got tough right away. There are “three sisters” about 4 miles into the course on the first section of gravel that looked hard enough to create a first selection. The first sister was nothing. The second increased the breathing a bit. The third was, as stated via a sign planted at the bottom, a bit of a bitch!
While they did thin it a little things got faster after that and the gravel kept coming. It’s a novelty at first, the gravel, but after 50 or so miles it fairly well sucks. Every road section makes you hate the gravel even more. Our plan was to hit what amounts to an up and downhill ATV trail at mile 18 toward the front to avoid what would be chaos behind and it worked like a charm! My teammate (and nephew) Peter and I hit that section at the front and he was off over the top with a lead group of about 15 guys.
We had a little group of 4 or 5 chasing that front group and then, much to my dismay, a solitary form appeared in the distance. It was Peter struggling to dislodge his chain from between the bottom bracket and chainring…..suck! The hills kept coming and stopping would have been death so we went right by. He’s a strong dude though and so caught back to us after not so long and off we went after that lead group.
When we caught them things seemed sorted out. About 20 of us off the front and everyone relaxed, ate, drank and chatted a bit. The problem was that there were some seriously fast people with us and so the attacks would start coming hard again. And then, on a fast and dusty gravel section, someone on the front crashed hard enough to break his bike in half! We checked later and very fortunately he’s OK. There were people lying on the ground and so much dust had been kicked up that I had to enter a visionless cloud and hope hard that this wasn’t going to end up in disaster (NASCAR style). At the same time I saw Peter go off the road and up a dirt wall with one foot out (MX style) berm it around and right back onto the gravel road.
On it went until I started cramping pretty much from the neck down at mile 45 or so, gave my last little bit of food to Peter and dropped off the back. Pete stayed with it for quite a bit longer but eventually blew up due to a succession of relentless attacking and finished a more than respectable 17th.
We parked our camper right by the start finish line and so after the long, painful and occasionally lonely ride to the finish we were surrounded by a party with 2000 others crazy enough to do this thing! Great course, very tough field and put on by an organization that has it down. This gravel thing is for real!