29 April 2012

Yesterday was the Eugene Roubaix road race – actual an event I can ride to, which is nice, the start was only ten miles away. The main feature of the course is 1.5 miles of gravel road, which wouldn’t be super selective on it’s own, but being immediately followed by a tough little climb makes for a good place to attack. The loop is completed by 13 miles of rolling roads. I rode the gravel earlier in the week, and it was the worst I’d seen it in the previous three editions of the race – no clear line, just all loose gravel; the bike was moving all over the place and I pinch flatted twice! Fortunately by race day some lines had appeared, but it was still somewhat sketchy.

Once again I used my little blue road bike for this event – the titanium seatpost really helps dissipate the vibration over the gravel, even with 110psi in the tubeless tires on a custom set of NoTubes Alpha wheels.

The 1/2 field was small at 30 riders, so I was prepared for a hard race. Now unfortunately I have been dealing with some gastro-intestinal issues for the past few weeks. I had been feeling pretty good all week (in fact, last weekend I was flying in training; shame there wasn’t a race then…), but it kicked back in on Friday, and on Saturday morning I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to start. But I felt okay on the ride out there, so….

On the first lap I lead into the gravel so I could get a clear run at it. Over the top of the hill one rider clipped off, with two others bridging up shortly afterwards. Teammates then started blocking on the front, and everything slowed down for a bit. I sat tight, waiting for the selection to be made next time through. Which did end up happening – we went through the gravel at 30mph, then when I saw there was a split I pushed the pace as we approached the hill. Over the other side and we had a break of five away. One of which was my nemesis from the state road champs last year, Scott Gray – and he had a teammate up the road, so could legitimately sit on our group. Fortunately two of the other riders were very strong and willing to work. Mind you, we had a long way to go with this happening less than a lap and a half into the race…. Eventually, on the penultimate lap of five, we caught the three ahead, and the lead group was now eight strong. Scott started working and we kept moving. But I knew he would attack on the hill the last time up. I made sure I was on his wheel through the gravel, and then, despite cramping, I managed to hang onto him over the top to give us a two man break. I wasn’t feeling great, and couldn’t see a way to beat him, but given being sick I was okay with racing for second. We worked pretty well together – with Scott taking turns about twice as long as me, then at the line he led out the sprint and, as expected, I wasn’t able to respond.

So second race and my second 2nd place; have to be fairly happy with the season so far!

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