2018 Road Apple Roubaix
42 Mile Bike Race
Finish Time: 2:52:00
Finish Place: 33rd
Race Review By Ken Frankenbery
I had a dozen good reasons not to go. 7 inches of snow on Friday, 20-degree temps with high winds for race time Saturday morning would mean bone chilling temps with icy snow-covered roads & mud-soaked trails. My friends who were going to meet me there wisely canceled, leaving me to drive out alone and my fitness was questionable after 9 months rehabbing a torn hamstring.
But I had a few good reasons that over took those, first was a brand-new Trek Madone which was the perfect bike for the race sitting in my garage that I was dying to ride, rehab had been going good on my hamstring and felt it was ready for a test. Lining up for the mass start, feeling those pre-race butterflies- I knew I made the right move.
This ride has been on my radar for years. 42 miles of back roads, gravel roads, dirt trails, bike paths and steep hills made for a challenging course. Add in Amish buggies, black ice, deep snow on unplowed bikes paths and it was a real test. Serious racers on race bikes, mountain bikers on mountain bikes, fat tire bikes & casual riders on hybrid bikes just out to see if they could make it.
The start was a mass start right in downtown Garrettsville, with a police escort out of town. It then headed North through Parkman, with a turnaround in Middle field. I started near the front, but right from the start riders started to attack and go full out. We were heading up a slight hill going over 20 mph. The top riders pulled away, leaving small packs of riders trying to find someone to block the strong headwinds. I worked with a small group with a really strong woman on a mountain bike, passed a few people, got passed by a few and was pushing it hard. As we turned down the first gravel road, it was super rough. There were multiple riders on either side of the road with flat tires- it was that deep gravel that sucks the life out of you. We then hit some dirt roads with snow piles/ ice patches, and in the sunny area’s muck & mud. Heading into Parkman, it was back on paved roads, with Amish buggies. Passed a few (horses were unaffected), and a few were really hauling, had to push close to 20 mph to pass them. Back on the dirt roads, Amish kids were lining the roads watching. Saw several homes with Women out putting all their clothes on laundry lines. Will clothes dry in the wind at 25 degrees’??.
I had planned to do the ride non stop, had 2 water bottles with enough calories mixed in and I was hoping I could cover the 42 miles in under 2 & ½ hours. But the deep mud, heavy gravel, and super steep hills made me reevaluate when I was only averaging 14 mph.
They had an aid station at mile 26, so I made a quick stop for water. Aid workers were great, grabbed my water bottles and filled them. I pulled out in no time, trying to stuff a choc chip cookie in my mouth (I know it’s out of character but it looked good-and needed the calories!).
The pack I was with had broken up, so it was solo for the second half. I knew the monster climb was at mile 32, and I was hoping the cookie would be fully digested by then. The climb was tough, they had people along it cheering, and a mini aid station with shots of booze. Needless to say, I didn’t stop, but I saw people there who looked like they were happy to hang there for a while.
The final 5 miles was on a dirt bike trail that the warming sun had turned to muck. I drafted a guy, not carrying I was getting covered with the mud thrown off by his back wheel, I was in the total survival mode
I finished in 2:52, good for 33 place. The winner averaged 18.8 for a time of 2:12. Wow- that’s fast. I skipped the post-race festivities but drove home feeling great.