This is my third year for Barry Roubaix. The good news/bad news is that I’m starting to know what to expect. It’s nice to have learned some of the course, including the hills that roll up unexpectedly and the quick turns that can throw you off when riding with big groups in the loose gravel. But… there is also the dread of knowing the first 30-60 minutes of the race is going to be flat out. That first part is maybe the biggest challenge. There are definitely harder times left in the day when I’m more spent physically, but when the lead open 62 mile group rolls off the front you just can’t help but try to hang on as long as possible… that means total all out effort.
This year was the same. I worked through the first 5 miles of the course trying to stay with the fastest group, which was splintering quickly. There were not any big crashes right off the start so it was just about keeping up. By about 10 miles into the race I had settled in with a smaller group of maybe 10-15 riders. We were taking some pulls but only vaguely working together at this point. The Garmin data says I had not been below 161 bmp heart rate from the start so I was already feeling it.
About 12 miles into the race we turn onto some pavement. It is uphill but the paved road provides the first recovery anyone has had since we left the line. Lots of riders start hitting their bottles and the very first of the men’s masters lead group starts catching us. This is a good thing as we form into a bigger group and this helps steady our pace. My average was still mid 19 mph at this point and with this group it felt like we could hold it for awhile. We roll into Sager Road around 19 miles in and it is rough but not as bad as I had expected. The group is still big. It feels like maybe 50 of us hit that section of road/trail within a 30 sec spread. It may not have been quite that many but it was a big group for that trail. There are crashes and riders bailing off occasionally. As I near the end of the section, I rolled over a hill to see a group of riders piled up from a frozen car rut crash about halfway down. I locked up the bike and scrubbed off some speed but couldn’t get into another line as we were packed in tight. I crash into the already crashed group and a couple other riders go down that were behind me too. Nobody is too happy but no one is hurt.
I’m up and dusting myself off quickly. No major damage to the bike (which is good because it was borrowed) but I had the chain off both the front and the rear. The rear was bound up pretty tight but I got it back in place as well as some minor handlebar tweaking in what appears to be about 2 minutes on the Garmin data. I’ve obviously lost the masters group at this point so I’m soft pedaling back to the next gravel road while trying to shake off the crash and get my heart rate back down…again.
Not too long back on the next road section and another group of what turns out to be about 20 riders starts catching up with me. I decide I need to roll with this group so I jump on. We end up riding and mostly working together for the next 30 miles or so. The pace is a little slower than I’d like as the group is cautious with exertion on the hills but we’re still picking up some places. At around mile 50 I decide it should be time to go – burn it up for the last 10 miles. I know little about road racing, but it seems like everyone is just waiting and saving something for the end. I ride out of the group on a hill and hammer through the downside. We’re on the pavement at this time and I assume a few may decide to go with me. They don’t. So after a couple miles I’m back in the group. I knew it wasn’t a tactically smart move, but at this point I’m just trying to get it done. Finally around mile 55 the pace is picking up a little. By the time we get on the final pavement, we’re down to a small group. Back and forth we go a few times and I end up finishing in the middle of the smaller group.
The end of Barry Roubaix is always great. Hitting the city limits is a really good feeling. Hitting the after party – that’s the best. Quality event. Shouldn’t be missed! Ended up 89th in the men’s open 62 miler. A time of 3:23:20. Besting my previous finishes by 14 seconds. Average speed 18.3 mph, average heart rate 167 bmp. With this race completed, now it feels like spring.