I'm not sure why I got so fired up about a race I decided to do on the Tuesday prior, but I was practically shaking in my Sidis the morning of the Hillsboro Roubaix.
Michael McShover, Jess Storochoviaccochik and I had 'pooled down to the race locale on Friday night. Many props to Chef Jessica for providing a mobile backseat pasta buffet that would make the Maggiano's staff applaud. I would also like to offer a public apology for hogging the brownie bites. Those succulent, supple, creamy chocolate bits of bike-fueling bliss. I digress.
Shover and I were feeling a bit tense at the Litchfield Denny's that morning and perhaps a bit out of our element. After all, it's not every day that you eat breakfast surrounded by a professional women's football team.
The race HQ in Hillsboro was hopping. I can't remember ever seeing such a wide variety of teams at an amateur race. Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconites abound. The parade lap though town was a nice touch: a kaleidoscope of spandex in the middle of the Midwest.
The defending champ, an expert-level off-road stud, was in my two-lap Cat IV race. Four minutes from the whistle, we saw why he was the defending champ. He rode up and over the back of the pace car at 50 mph and we never saw him again. I exaggerate, but it was something to that effect. His squad, DRJ racing, was blocking extremely well. Eric Davis and I finally made our way to the front and attempted to help spark a chase. Two of Mack's 100 cat IV guys did a bunch of pulls as well and eventually Big Shark pitched in, but it was mostly futile. We were reduced to infighting, while DRJ toasted each other with champagne flutes. The pack was thinking about second place barely half a lap into the race.
The start of the second of two laps was the back breaker. We lost much of the field through the first hill/brick section of the course. One rider pulled Jan Ulrich and rode straight off the side of one of the small descents. A random pile up thinned the herd even more. I was lucky to down a clif Shot and finish off a bottle right before the pace redlined again. Shortly thereafter, we lost Eric to a brake defect that had disguised itself as a flat (ouch!), which is rough because he was in great form on the first lap. Personally, my back was cramping out of control, and I was forced to stand and stretch every minute or so.
A groupetto of about 20 guys made it to the base of the hills on the final lap. On the second incline, I tried to throw a surge. I shifted to the small ring to attempt the climb seated -- and nothing? "Okay, fine. Let's big ring this baby!" However, my bike decided to surprise me 10 seconds later by completing the shift to the small ring on its own. Of course, a 39-25 was NOT what I was looking for at the moment, and the sudden spin must have looked comical. I broke off with a Mack and a Dent-Wizard guy (not sure I wanted to ride next to a guy with "Dent Wizard" on his kit, but anyway.). We hit the descent together and crossed over onto the bricks at 40 mph.
The left onto the long brick section was less than perfect, we lost momentum, and the pack ate us up midway through the stretch. I tried to recover, and maybe caught two guys after the final turn to salvage 11th place, one out of the money and the points. Nuts.
I figured out after my race that, upon hitting one of the two or three (thousand) rough patches, my saddle had nosed up a notch or two, causing the back issues. At least it's not old age (yet).
Only two laps and it was harsh, dusty, painful -- and I can't wait to go back next year.