Spring Bike Racing!

Grovelling gravel - Bromley Hill at Malabar Farm

Grovelling gravel – Bromley Hill at Malabar Farm

A  handful of SSSMST’ers headed south, and to the State up North to gain some early season fitness.  Bruce MacDonald, Scott Zubricky and John Willse trekked up to Hastings, MI (notice we didn’t say the name!) for what’s billed as the Killer Gravel Road Race, Barry-Roubaix.

Scotty Z:

Sounded like a good race to try. I went into this race for training. I got what I wanted, it worked me hard. I stayed upright and injury free so it was a good day. I would recommend this race because it is different.

Bruce:

Headed to Michigan for the 3rd year in a row for Barry Roubaix. This is a great early season race, with 62 miles of dirt, gravel, and a little bit of paved road. Roads were reported to be the worst in 10 years. All week people were discussing what bike to ride, what tires, what pressure. It gets a little overwhelming, and the reality is that is all changes race day.

Over 2000 people showed up, and the race was broken in to waves. The start is key here. I got up front, got with a good group,held the leaders for about 6 miles, then came off my bike on a corner going in to a hill. Never saw them again.

There were bodies all over the road. Lots of ice and deep ruts are not a great combination. By mile 40 the lack of high end training started to show. Cramped in the quads if I pushed too hard. I had to dial it back, and try to keep eating, and 62 miles is a long way with 1.5 frozen water bottles.

Great finish in to a new downtown venue, and always a great party after. I recommend this race to anyone that wants a challenging early season ride.

Great job by John Willse on a MTB, and Scott Z doing his first Barry Roubaix.

Meanwhile, in search of hills, yours truly headed down toward Mansfield for the 18th Annual Malabar Farm Road Race:

Had a hunch that base level training wasn’t going to be enough to get a win in a small field, but starting the race with the Cat 3/4’s didn’t help me.

I raced this course a few times back in the mid-to-late 1990’s and there’s not much different. Maybe more gravel on the backside of the course. The level of competition has definitely gone way up.
Neutral start up the one-mile Bromley Hill climb to start the race, the race director started the entire field at the same time (including the 1/2’s). After cresting the top and getting the GO signal from the race moto, the 1/2’s kicked off the front immediately. Sitting in with the 3/4’s (which was the largest field in the race with 20-odd riders), I bode my time near the back trying to get a guage on the other Cat 5 guys. Some little forays by racers off the front shed two of the 5’s and a few 4’s, and after about the 18th uphill (backside 4-5 miles of the 10-mile loop are relentless rollers), just before the hard turn onto the main road back to the farm, I had a hard time accellerating with the bunch and they were about 60 yards ahead at the turn. 25+ guys in that group on a smooth road with slight tailwind meant that 60 yards became about 150 real quick. I time trialled as best I could but wasn’t able to get back. Ended up finishing the first lap about 1 minute down but passing some Cat 4’s that got shed off. Was hoping that someone would want to ride hard with me, but no one was buying.

I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would have to solo the last 18 miles so tried to get as good a workout as I could in. Put in enough of an effort on lap two that my quads were starting to cramp a bit on the third and final lap. I felt OK on the long Bromley climb each time, had a hard time on the rollers, but felt great on the flat back to the start finish, so I know where I have work to do.

Soloing myself netted 3rd place in the Cat 5 race, and followed all that up by driving the 10 miles over to Mohican and running the mountain bike trails for an hour after. Best part is that it was 50 degrees and sunny at Mohican!

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One Response

  1. Nice racing all! Great to see race reports!

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