This morning my wife and I had the chance to join the Annual TeleRoubaix, an event that Max has been putting on for some time now. I have always gravitated towards the heroic events of riding in adverse weather, but dreaming and doing are two different things. Most of the dreamers fall into the poseur category, and in attempt to dodge that tag, I decided that this morning I would be at the Ghost Town starting line. Also Jake emailed me that I “should do this!”so my masculinity was on the line.
A quick aside here regarding the Spring Classic races that happen over the pond around this time of the year. There are a number of one-day races that are laid out across Europe, through cobbled street and steep climbs. Most of the spectators, specifically the Belgians are true fanatics of the sport and as you would have it, the worse the weather, the better the show. So, with frits and beer the crowds gather cheering their team or small town favorite as the drama and battle unfold. Needless to say, the Belgians have it in their DNA, and have set the bar of deep root cycling tradition. I heard one interview with pro rider Shonny Vanlandigham, where the host asked her about her most memorable race. Surprisingly, Shonny did not reference a well-placed race, but one that took place in Belgium where she finished middle of the pack. The fan base was cheering every rider regardless of their place, something that left a strong impression on her mind.
So when Max emailed me about the TeleRoubaix this Sunday, I came up with some legitimate reasons to surf the couch on this crappy day, but my conscience smote me with the violence of a betrayed lover.
Becca and I met the group of braves on Main Street and we all rolled out into the misty, cloudy morning, with my phone pinging. Rick, who has been injured, was asking if we were departing on time, which made me suspicious that he may have mounted a water balloon slingshot to his porch posts and was about to pick us off; one by one. No such thing! The man stood there in the middle of Main Street holding a plate of fresh bacon for the riders. I suspect his kids may have had to enjoy their eggs sans pork, but my oh my was that bacon good. Thank you sir! Heal up and get back on it!
We headed down valley with a quick stop at the top of Keystone Hill to wee wee and let a few other catch on.
From there, the 8 or 9 strong peloton descended and flogged it to Placerville and Dallas Divide. We rode in a pretty tight group chatting and taking turns.
Max planned for a support car at the bottom of Brown Ranch road to allow us to shed our winter armor prior to climbing. Sure enough, a green Subaru and its driver were waiting for us with the trunk open. I don’t recall the gal’s name, but she was sweet as could be and by taking our stuff, (Scott was rocking a full messenger bag up to this point) allowed us to ascend lighter.
I was disappointed to see Scott shed the bag, realizing the punishment the man was capable of now dishing out to the rest of us. So, up we went; of course, Scott setting a pace I couldn’t hold, but then again, what new there?
At the top we turned on dirt and continued on. Scott and I got to ride together and chat eventually bringing us to a nice little cabin that was all set for us to stop, eat and mark the halfway point of the ride. All this was done courtesy of Max, Hilary and their friends.
Inside, Hilary hade made the best chili I have ever tasted and there we ate, drank, relaxed and listened to some bitchin’ 80’s vinyl, courtesy of our host and the Free Box. The mood was so perfect and cozy, that it made it hard to imagine that we would have to head back out into what was now a portrait of wet mud and blowing snow. Ahhh yeahhh!!!
All full we departed before the lactic acid had too much of a chance of seizing our muscle fibers. We rolled out two by two. This was not planned but the dirt double track (path most well packed) arranged us that way.
I rode with Max and he shared with me different ride ideas on dirt that sounded pretty awesome. Lonely and dreary (perfect conditions) was the road and on we went eventually bringing us to the dirt descent, where Stash and Max went at it at a pace that made my grapes shrivel. Smiling, they waited at the junction to Dallas Divide where we regrouped and wee wee’d again. I now see why some folks are so defiantly resistant to bibs…. Ruuuupeeee!
The weather was deteriorating (or improving depending on which way you look at it) so we formed two groups of 4+ strong each, and took turns and as such, fluidly arriving to the Placerville turn-off and the General Store. Becca decided to keep going (kids waiting/motherly instinct), while I stayed with the Bros. The Bros left, I with them, and not surprisingly, I found myself hanging on by the skin of my teeth, as Scott, Max and Tim were laying down some serious pulls at the front. For some reason, Tim would get to the front and no matter what my place in line was, whether 3rd or 4th, I could not hang. The man was driving it and I was behind, betrayed by the drafting concept I strongly believed in…hallucinating. It truly showed the form the man has this early in the season. Thank you Tim! It’s been a while since I’ve transcended to that “Happy Place” and I appreciate you reconnecting me with it.
Well, we rode like this, up valley to the Concrete Boob where up ahead we spotted the pink jacket hosted by my wife Becca. Once marked, Max and Tim went, Scott and I remained eventually catching up to them at the turn up Deep Creek Road. Here we regrouped, Max, the good host, like a mother hen, gathering her chicks, got us together and on we went on the last leg. This road is something we have done before and we all went at it at our own paces. I really love this stretch of dirt. It’s steep but beautiful and rides along the creek. The sound of the water kept me company as I dangled between riders; standing, seating, standing, seating. Good times although by now I was feeling the mileage. Eventually, we turned out of the canyon, the spectacular mountain views greeting us, all mysterious with their peaks shrouded by cloud and fog. Along the top road ahead I could see Becca’s pink jacket reaching the top of Airport Road.
This happened to be part of the Telluride 100 course, and I have to tell you, there is no better final leg than this stretch of road. It is truly amazing! Ride it and look around!
We reached the pavement, rain and sleet coming down in full force, so our descent down Airport Road was taken with caution, and covered faces; that frozen precipitation really stinging the face with zit popping force.
By this time we were all pretty wet and so with the glorious feeling of accomplishment, we took the bike path all the way back to town. The boys went for pints at Brown Dog, while I went home and had two bowls of cereal and a steam shower.
I just woke up now from a sickly nap, feeling the glory of one of the best and most memorable rides I have done here.
Thank you Max, Hilary and the rest of the group!