The first bike race of 2010 is in the books. This was the second annual Barry Roubaix, held in Middleville MI. I am dubbing this the U.S. version of The Hell of the North (the real Paris Roubaix) Here are some of the numbers for the race. Up at 3:50 a.m. loaded the car and headed to pick up Josh J. and Nicole B. to head up for the race. The temperature was hovering around 30 degrees at start time which was backed up a little due to the large field. Last year the race had a little more than 200 racers and this year they went over 700! The options for this race were a 23 mile option, 35 mile and 65 mile. I choose to due the 35 mile race since it is early in the season and the race was being held on gravel and dirt roads with a mile long sand and rock garden section thrown in for good measure. Here are my numbers for the race. I burned 2367 calories with a finishing time of 2:05 for 34.5 miles. I averaged 247 watts and a 159 heart rate. Average speed was 16.75 mph. Maximum speed was 33.57mph and my max heart rate topped out at 174bpm. My finishing time put me in 29th place out of 50 in my field.
Now a little more about the race. Like I mentioned the race was mostly held on gravel and dirt roads. The race started with all 700+ riders in a neutral rollout. This was not the smartest thing to do and they even promoted the race with staggered starts based on category. Even though they asked the riders to stay within their category during the rollout most riders tried to move to the front which caused a few wrecks. Once the escort vehicle cut us loose the race was on, that was until we hit the mile long section of 2 track sand and rocks. I was probably mid way back in the field and the wrecks started coming left and right. I had opted for road shoes and pedals and this was a mistake. I had to shoulder the bike and run around people on several occasions. This caused my cleats to get filled with dirt and rocks and made the task of clipping in nearly impossible. I can say that the riders who were wrecking probably should have read the race description a little better and not brought a bike with slicks. Most riders in this race opted for cross bikes or mountain bikes. This mile long stretch cost me several minutes and most likely a spot near the top of my category since the winning time was 1:51.
The rest of the race was probably the most interesting race I have ever done with dirt and gravel roads, lots of climbing and some very beautiful scenery. I worked with a few other riders during the race but mostly picked my way thru the field trying to regain the spots I had lost. About 22 miles into the race I started to experience a lot of cramping in my calf muscles and I am not sure if this was from not taking in enough fluids or the climbing but they finally worked themselves out. I felt great other than the cramps so with about 10 miles to go I put the hammer down and let it fly. I came across several of the elite riders that were also on their first lap and ran into my travel partner Nicole B who had opted for the 65 mile version. Nikki is coming off another strong cross season and also another major ankle surgery which has put her training a little behind but nonetheless she was battling thru it. After getting around this group I kept the power up. I finally reached about 7 miles to go and had another rider sitting on my wheel. I tried to ignore the fact that he was sitting there and I was doing all the work but I really did not want to sit up. Coming into the finish I was cruising at about 26 mph and feeling good when in the last 50 yards the rider that was on my wheel wanted to sprint me for the finish. I was not too happy with this since I had just pulled his ass along for 7 miles but hey I’m game. We ended up crossing the line at the same time.
When I got back to the car Josh J. my other traveling companion for the day was at the car. He had opted to do the 65 mile course but after the first lap pulled out due to some fatigue issues. He was pretty disappointed but Nikki and I assured him there are plenty of races left this year and he will do just fine.
After a few more hours Nicole rolled in taking 4th place for the elite women. She expressed that this was the hardest race she has done in her 20 years of racing.
All in all I am pleased with my decision to do the 35 mile expert race and feel really good about my fitness right now. There is a lot of racing left this year and I know I will only get stronger.