Monday, March 18, 2013

Rouge Roubaix #15

Five Mile Bridge around.... NEXT corner......groan!......maybe NEXT corner......aaaagh!   Where the @#*% is that Fve Miles from the FREAKIN' End BRIDGE?!Keep going......turn that big gear. DON'T lose that wheel in front ... it just gets EVEN harder!  Hate my chain.......chain gang.....that's what I'm freakin' on - a chain gang - doing life without parole!  Out of GU, fuzzy thinking, on the verge of swooning.
Somebody make me stop!

This is what the last 20 miles of Rouge Roubaix the 15th feels like........somewhere just before the "Five Miles From the End" Bridge. Mile after mile of twisty, turny, rough chip seal road. Every corner looks the same. BANG through the pot holes, SLAM over two dozen wooden bridges and DODGE the dodgy bits. All on your skinny tire 10-speed bike. The only concession to conditions was to bleed tire pressure to 90.

Even before that there were 101 miles of big hills......big paved hills......big dirt hills.... with steep wheel-sucking sand patches and slippery marble-strewn, scary descents over and over.  When the hills flattened out Mr. Gusty Headwind showed up and spoiled the pack party. Keep going, keep going. Save a little punch for the dirt sections if you can. Eat another Double Shot if ya got it.

Scott, Justin, Ed and Kerry during their pre-ride.
Scott dropped the GU I gave him. The one he REALLY had counted on getting him home.  I had just rolled up to him and Jayson after chasing (with two other guys) for two hours due to an early  flat. Our boys were with the shattered remnants of the first chase group which failed to bring back 5 pro-elite masters. They were exhausted from the noble effort.  "I see you still have that GU I gave you this morning" I said.  It was sticking out of his left shorts leg. "Yeah, I really need it now" he groaned.
Then, like a bad dream, it suddenly fell to the ground and popped a few wheels back. His entire body slumped so hard there was a shock wave. "No soup for you"! said Chef Roubaix.

Jayson and I took a few pathetic pulls to help the pack out. Suddenly my two former buddies punched it up a hill. On the verge of fainting I managed to bridge up then looked back. Nothing back there. So sad.

The fourth and last dirt sector came and went bringing tears to our eyes.  My two younger companions (40 and 43) had mercy on their older shadow and didn't insist I match pull for pull. For a while. I was no threat to their race I kept teling them. They didn't seem to believe me but I kept clawing back from their increasingly unfriendly surges.
My goal was to stay with them to the bridge. To the Bridge.....the Bridge.  All will be fine after the Bridge. Eventually we hit the Five Miles To Go Bridge. Everything should be fine now. Two miles to go and my buddies left me struggling up one last hill. One mile to go and my front tire went flat. "You gotta be FREAKIN' kidding" I mumbled to no one. Luckily a wheel truck was right there.  Unluckily the only spare left had a CX tire so wide I barely could pound it on with brakes wide open. I spun it. Nothing happened. The tire was so tall it dragged on my fork crown.
This race cursed me to the very end!

One mile to go. I was afraid of capture any second. Nothing for it but to buck it home. Like a stuck pig it squealed every rotation. Squeal! Squeal! Squeal!
Burning rubber was a worry but soon the finish line rolled past. The tire survived but now sported a flat top. The crowd cheered wildly for every hollow faced racer that finished - mostly solo. I had never seen such a far-away look in Scott's weary face. But now we could sit down at least. Justin worried us coming in half an hour later, but he had two flats. Ed was in 4th position 2/3 into the race but somehow faded from there. The quiet man wasn't elaborating. Jayson was just "knackered".

Scott, Kerry, Ed and Jayson post-Roubaix
After showers, jambalaya and local beer Jayson and Ed lay horizontal in the room avoiding their painful "Roubaix Butts."  They swore they would never do this race again. Two hours later they couldn't wait to race it again. They must have spotted the Five Mile Bridge and hope was renewed.


[editorial note: Kerry's effort earned him the top step on the Masters 55+ podium...he's just too modest to mention it in his own story. Congratulations Kerry!]

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