Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Paris Roubaix

Not much happened last night. Did some stretching and ab work to try to loosen up from Sunday’s marathon ride.

Hitting the first gravel section.

Every year on the day of the Paris Roubaix a buddy of mine puts on a P.R. inspired ride that consists of some crappy paved roads and several sections of dirt roads. I’ve done it for the past three years and it is always a good time but at only 20 miles, its really not worth driving 40 mins. for, so each year I ride in from wherever I happen to have been staying the night before. This year it meant riding in from home (roughly 35 miles away). Sunday morning rolls around and my lovely daughter gave me a wake-up call at 5:30. I didn’t have to leave until around 7 so it gave me plenty of time to wake up, get some baby time in and get ready for the ride. I rolled out the door promptly at 7 and quickly got into a nice moderate tempo. The goal for the ride in was to not redline at all since the group ride can get very competitive and I knew that I would need the legs for some of the soft gravel climbs ahead. The night before I had mounted up the Panaracer Extreme Duro’s onto the 2300 and I was immediately impressed with the supple ride despite the fact that they are touted as training tires. They felt much nicer even than the Michelin and Hutchinson racing tires that they replaced and with their added flat protection I figured that they would be perfect for the crappy roads that the day promised. I managed to keep my goal of no red-lines and got to the rally point at 9:00 sharp. Ten minutes later, the group of 19 rolled out for the beginning of the ride. I should back up and explain a bit more about the ride. The first 2/3 is essentially a competitive group ride, people ride fast, there are some attacks but we always regroup at all intersections. The last 1/3 of the ride is different however. For the last 1/3 its every man for himself as we race for the finish. So anyway, the ride started at a nice easy pace for the first couple of miles but in the first gravel section the tempo picked up as people fought for the best lines through the pothole riddled road. Things remained largely the same through the remainder of the first 2/3. I was feeling pretty good overall but since I had already eclipsed my longest ride of the year, I didn’t expect to have much to give in the final 1/3.


Final re-group.

As we left from the final re-group the first attack came, literally before most of the group could even clip in. I knew that I was in for it but was determined to stay with the leaders as long as possible. The next three miles (roughly) were extremely leg sapping soft gravel climbs briefly separated by only slightly smoother rolling asphalt. I managed to hold on to the lead group of five through most of those three miles but as we climbed the final gravel grinder they slowly pulled away as my legs gave up the ghost. At this point, we had a comfortable lead over the remainder of the field so I settled into a tempo and tried to gain ground when I could. At one point I almost pulled in a couple of the last stragglers of the lead group but to no avail and finished a somewhat respectable 6th.

Checking my watch, I realized that I was late leaving for my scheduled 12:30 hike in Camden (10-15 miles away) so my only hope to get there in time was to go over Moody Mountain. Its not really much of a mountain but it is one hell of a long brutal climb, especially after almost 4 hours in the saddle. I sucked it up and rolled into Camden at 12:15, exactly on time.

Marcy met me there with B-girl and Chance in tow and together with a past coworkers family climbed Bald Mountain in Camden, a pretty quick but very rugged hike. When we got back to the car I was officially smoked.

Of interesting note, before the ride (6:45am) I put some Greyhound Juice Original Formula onto my legs and at 2 in the afternoon I could still feel its warmth. I was amazed. Not once during the ride did my legs feel hot from the juice but they never felt cold either. Good to know for when the leg warmers come off for the season.


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