|Riders complete their pre-ride preparations for Cheesehead Roubaix.|
For the duration of the ride we were buffeted by high winds that rarely assisted us and often were square in our faces. Those winds not only slowed our progress but also made us feel much colder. Fortunately we had bright sun to cheer us. Five miles west of Belgium, we had a passing driver to cheer us: Team Pedal Moraine’s John Hughes caught up to us at Willow Valley Road and urged us on with a cowbell and shouts of “Cheesehead Roubaix!”
Our 11 riders came from Washington County, Waukesha County, Milwaukee County … even Illinois. I’ve said it before: this is a unique event for this part of the state. Southeastern Wisconsin doesn’t have a lot of unpaved roads and the people who like them really like them! On today’s ride the unpaved roads were the attraction, but they didn’t have as big an impact on rider performance as the wind.
And the riders did split up according to their abilities. I spent most of the day within sight of the leaders but unable to lift my effort and catch them. About 40 miles into the ride, I started feeling little twinges in my thighs that promised full-on cramps if I tried to go much harder. But I rode over every hill and completed the entire route, though for a few minutes I considered taking a shortcut back to the parking lot. I finished the 64.16 miles in 4:30, a 14.26 mph rolling average. There were a couple of stops along the way as the riders attempted to regroup, plus a slightly longer stop at a minimart in Boltonville at mile 51, when many of us needed to take on more fluids. Given the quality of the field, today’s ride probably would have taken 3:30 or less if not for the wind. It made that much of a difference.
I’m neither impressed nor disappointed with my fitness. It’s the end of Week 10 and I’m still on the upswing. In the next two weeks I should be approaching something like race-ready form—or at least my modest interpretation of it. Today’s ride will pay dividends and make me stronger when it counts.