|Lovers Lane. That’s me, leftmost. The man on the ground is a photographer, not a corpse.|
Nine o’clock in the morning on the last Sunday of April is one of my favorite moments of the year. That’s the moment when riders roll out of Fireman’s Park in Newburg to start Cheesehead Roubaix … and it’s the moment when all of my preparations are done and I’m just another rider. Today we had the chilly, wet weather that is so common to the northern European spring classics that Cheesehead Roubaix has tried to emulate for the last 7 years. (It snowed on Liège-Bastogne-Liège today; at least we avoided that!) Despite the weather in some cases, and because of the weather in others, turnout was strong: something in the neighborhood of 300 again. Contributions to the Newburg Fire Department were strong too: more than $1,500. NFD also sold about $500 of food & drink from its concessions stand, so I think we can count on that new amenity becoming a permanent fixture. This was a successful day from NFD’s point of view, and from mine.
My ride stats looked like this:
This was neither my fastest nor my slowest Cheesehead Roubaix. I consider it a good effort on wet roads, and also I spent a fair amount of time riding on my own—perhaps 20 percent of the ride, though not in one big chunk. I would have been faster if I had found a group with which I could work for the entire distance. The strong group with which I worked from Jay Road to Belgium would have been ideal. I set the pace all the way down the mile-long gravel section of Willow Valley Road, but everyone contributed something during our time together. New alliances formed after the rest stop, though, and I didn’t find another group so strong or cooperative.
Recent resurfacing of a couple of gravel roads—Sauk Trail and St. Augustine, most notably—made this year’s route one of the easiest ever. If the roads had been dry, then this would have been an exceptionally fast Cheesehead Roubaix. But Lovers Lane was nasty. Check out this video! I rode Lovers Lane well, but I had to set a foot down for just a moment when a rider stalled in front of me. The signature feature of Cheesehead Roubaix claimed some victims today!