This weekend, I ventured out to West Virginia for the awesome-sauce of the Hilly Billy Roubaix. It might be the hardest race I've ever done. Yes, I count the 40 milers at Michaux as races I've done. No, Jes and company at Gettysburg Bike, you don't need to make the Michaux races harder.
This was a different kind of hard. About 65 miles in, I crossed a road with a fire truck marshal. Up. A gravel pitch. Loose gravel. You've got to be kidding me. I decided that it was okay if I walked. But then something funny happened, all the guys around me were walking. Anyone who knows me knows that I can be a little too competitive. If the guys were walking it, I needed to ride it. I did. Thanks to compact gearing I'd scrambled to put on my Santa Cruz the night before the race.
|Photo - Fred Jordan|
Hot and dusty but frickin' awesome. A mass start of ~250 of us on a mix of cross bikes with fat tires, mountain bikes with skinny, low profile tires, and a few true road bikes thrown in. I found a training partner's wheel early on and held with a safe group for about the first 15 miles. I'd get gapped on the steepest climbs and latch back on after any kind of fast descent. But, I was running without a camelbak, necessitating a stop at the first aid station. I lost the group then flatted shortly thereafter and was in solo land for a long, long time. A few guys would come by and I'd jump on their wheel and work with them for a bit, and vice versa. I honestly think the average number of flats for this race is 1 - mine was a simple slice in the tread that the Stans wouldn't seal, even with added CO2, but the tube held for the rest of the day.
Somewhere around 5 hours in, I started to feel the effects of heat, a lack of interest in eating for about 2 hours, and dehydration. I've been through much worse bonks - I just had to slow down and convince myself that the race was almost over. Somewhere about 5 miles from the finish line, a Pittsburgh rider came along and put me on his wheel. We'd traded back and forth while he was cramping, but this time he mostly wasn't. We traded pulls (he pulled more, though) along the windy road towards the park, then he said he was planning to walk the last hill. I wasn't. Finish time posted on the results was officially 6:00:32. Looks like I have to be at least 32 seconds faster next year.
|Photo- Fred Jordan|
I was closer to some women that I expected to be well off the front, and within 45 minutes of many of my training partners' times - all in all, I think that says I'm not the slow girl getting lost in the woods that I used to be. The added bonus was that I drove home with a couple of teammates, who indulged my Five Guys craving.