Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Perry-Roubaix Stage Race (3/31/07 - 4/1/07)

Our adventures this week took us to Perry, Georgia. Home of the famous Perry-Roubaix road race. We had Victor, Curtis, Jeff, Clint and myself ready to face this new challenge. Unfortunately for me, I had started to feel the effects of a cold on Thursday...so it hit me this weekend. On the bright side, I'll have it out of the way before the big races in Jacksonville and Athens.

The first stage was a time trial, approximately 9.6 miles, out and back. It was on a rolling course, which added to the difficulty. Jeff and Curtis had great rides, getting 14th and 10th respectively. I managed 17th, with Clint and Victor a little further back. Curtis' form is starting to come around, and his time proved it. The pay went 10 deep for the overall, so he was holding onto the last money spot.

Later that afternoon we did a circuit race, about 3 miles per lap, for 20 laps. Dan Larson had won the morning time trial, so Cyclescience kept an eye on anyone close to his time. I wasn't feeling well, so decided to try and attack as much as possible to make everyone chase. Through the course of the race, I put in about 5-6 pretty good attacks, only to have them all brought back. The course made it easy to sit in, and hard to get up the road. Clint patrolled the front, chasing down several breaks and was in several himself. Towards the end, the pack let 2 guys get away that weren't racing for the overall classification. In the ensuing field sprint, Curtis and Victor took 8th and 9th overall, with Jeff and I in 13th and 15th. The overall stayed the same, so Sunday's road race would be the deciding factor.

Sunday brought the famed Perry-Roubaix road race, 88 miles, with two good hills and about 2 miles of Georgia orange clay/dirt. This section was pretty rough, with rocks, holes, sand, and a few narrow strips of hard packed clay. If you were able to ride at the absolute front, or the absolute last, then you could pick your line...otherwise, you could end up in some thick sand...and then in a ditch. A break went early as we all were waiting for the chaos of crossing the dirt road for the first time. The first rider to the dirt section crashed, and from there it was a mass scramble to try and stay toward the front. Everyone seemed to make it through ok, and as we passed the start finish for the first of 7 laps they told us the break had 4 1/2 minutes! As we went through the dirt section each lap, it became softer and softer. This made it more important to be at the front each time, I tried to guide Curtis the best I could through a couple of the dirt sections, so to keep us both out of trouble. Jeff and I took turns attacking in different breaks, but couldn't find the necessary horsepower to stay away.

With 2 laps to go I got in a break with Jason Snow, David Guttenplan, and one other rider. We rode pretty well together, but I started noticing the effects of my cold...cramps. My legs were cramping up the long climb before we headed to the dirt section. I hung on, and we started picking up the last remnants of the early breakaway. We went through the dirt section, and got caught at the end by a small group of riders. By this time I really started to have some cramping problems, but hoped they would go away. We made the last turn going into 1 lap to go...and my legs seized! Just as they did, the remainder of the field caught the break, and they started their last lap. My race was done.

At the end 2 riders got away, with a couple single riders between. 36 riders finished, spread out over 21 minutes. Curtis took 7th (3rd in the field sprint), and retained his 10th place overall. Victor finished in the same pack, while Jeff, Clint, and I called it quits with 1 lap to go.

The road race course was challenging and fun...and really dirty, especially with the orange Georgia clay! Everyone rode well, with Curtis stepping up and salvaging our weekend with 3 top 10 placings, and 10th overall. Combined with Victor's placing we had 4 top 10's and 10th overall.

Next up is the NRC race in Jacksonville...ouch!