Sunday, April 30, 2017

Not Your Average Cheesehead Roubaix

Lovers Lane is bad enough when it’s dry! Click here to see all the great Moroder Photography shots.

In years to come I hope I will remember the 2017 Cheesehead Roubaix as “the weird one.”

Today was the 8th annual running of my interpretation of the Spring Classics, and it was notable for two things. The first was the weather. Around here, an average April 30 has a low temperature of 40° overnight and a high temperature of 61° in the afternoon. Today’s high temperature was 41° ... and that doesn’t figure in the winds. With 10-20 mph winds from the northeast, the wind chill was in the low 30s. (It was 27° early this morning when I was setting up some of the signs along the route.) Mist and light rain fell throughout the ride. Conditions were just about as bad as they could have been. At least it didn’t snow, I guess. At least there wasn’t any lightning, I guess.

The second thing that made this year’s Cheesehead Roubaix so different for me was that I didn’t ride it. As the event’s creator, I had never missed a chance to see the ride from behind the handlebar. But today I saw it from behind the steering wheel of my minivan. In fact, I saw most of the route more than once. Cheesehead Roubaix is intended for the self-sufficient, but conditions were so rough today that my conscience wouldn’t allow me to leave the riders without any support. As you might imagine, poor weather had a dramatic effect on the turnout. For the last couple of years I have been getting about 300 riders, but today I had only about 30. That meant each rider had fewer companions on whom he/she could rely, and many riders rode long stretches of the route alone. A couple of riders bugged out after climbing Lovers Lane. At least 11 abandoned at the Belgianwerkx-sponsored rest stop in the Village of Belgium, roughly halfway through the route. I provided transportation for 2 of them. Short-cutting the route on my return to Belgium, I saw a few more riders feeling their way back to Newburg.

Newburg itself was a little different this year. During the winter, an ice jam caused the Milwaukee River to flood Newburg Fireman’s Park. The fire department is still working to reverse the damage, and the parking lot was not available to us today. We’ve had nearly double the normal amount of rainfall for April, slowing the park’s restoration. But the fire department did come through with a portable toilet, and the post-ride snacks available at the concessions stand were a nice treat for several riders. Between concessions sales and cash donations, today netted about $300 for the department—a big drop from last year, but not bad under the circumstances.

Today’s ride was challenged by some of the worst weather Cheesehead Roubaix has ever seen. When the temperature is 20° below normal and the whole day is wet, windy, and dark … what can you do? Today the people behind the ride supported the riders in more direct and personal ways than ever before. Next year we might have beautiful weather and 300 riders and a bucket full of cash for the fire department and things will be back to normal. And normal at Cheesehead Roubaix is pretty great. Today was weird, but hopefully the people who showed up thought it was pretty great anyway. We did our best to make it so.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting it on - some of us did what we could. I arrived at the rest stop with little function left in my hands and feet so the quickest way back to Newburg was the best option. Still 42mi in all and definitely looking forward to next years ride!