|Listen up: This ride is awesome! (Nicki Lock photo)|
What a stunning day for the 6th Annual Cheesehead Roubaix! After a dismal-looking week—and credit to the weather forecasters for telling us it would be—today was brilliantly sunny, almost 50 degrees as the ride began, and breezy but not blustery. I can’t count how many times I heard someone comment that today’s weather was perfect … or, at least, a big improvement on last year’s. I’m actually a little bit sunburned but I’m not complaining.
And with great weather came great numbers of riders. There’s no official total, but we know there were more than 275 and probably around 300. That’s roughly triple the total from 2013 or 2014, and many times more than we had in the early years. Larger attendance resulted in a generous collection of $1,044 for the Newburg Fire Department, money that will directly benefit Fireman’s Park.
The growing popularity of Cheesehead Roubaix attracted the interest of a few entities that had not noticed us before. The West Bend Daily News published a ride preview on its cover page last Friday. Valentine Coffee Roasters set up a tent for coffee sales in Fireman’s Park before the ride. Shimano provided a technical service van that offered pre-ride support and then met the riders again at the Belgianwerkx-sponsored, mid-ride rest stop.
Fun new signs contributed to the atmosphere. We even had a mini-cyclocross course at the rest stop, equipped with a sand pit and double barriers.
My own performance? Today’s ride was my longest so far this year, and my fastest. I finished the 63 miles in 3:38, a 17.3 mph average. That’s 2 mph faster than my 2014 ride but 1 mph slower than my 2013 ride. High winds made last year’s ride something of a statistical anomaly. I might have matched or bettered my 2013 performance if I had spent more time riding in groups. As the host, I was among the last riders to leave Newburg. I spent much of my day chasing down groups, sitting in for a while to recover, then going off on my own again. I was very proud to ride up Lovers Lane cleanly when many other riders stalled and had to dismount. I rode a very good Cheesehead Roubaix, but not a perfect one. On the unpaved part of Sauk Trail, I rode straight through a wet rut that left my bike muddy for the remainder of the ride. On the final unpaved sector, St. Augustine, I hit a bone-jarring pothole that I was sure had just killed my front tube … or the tire, or the wheel, or all three! Everything held together but those were mistakes I should not have made.
This year’s ride was really satisfying for me on many levels. Still, I’m glad it’s done for another year. Team Pedal Moraine’s annual mountain bike race is rapidly approaching, Park Site O is still awaiting development, and other important initiatives need attention.