Sunday, April 28, 2013

When All The Pieces Fit

Thanks to my friend and Team Pedal Moraine teammate Steve Cummins for the new Cheesehead Roubaix sign!
Today was one of the most perfect days I have ever had as a cyclist. The 2013 Cheesehead Roubaix was a great success. I couldn’t count all of the riders as they assembled in Newburg, but the turnout was easily more than double last year’s attendance … maybe even triple. That’s somewhere between 70 and 90 riders; I really don’t know for sure. Friends, teammates, rivals from mountain bike races and cyclocross, and strangers who soon would become friends rolled out of Fireman’s Park promptly at 9 a.m., bound for a grand adventure.

The signature feature of Cheesehead Roubaix—the dirt and gravel hill climb of Lovers Lane near Boltonville—was an early highlight. Moroder Photography was there to capture the action as the riders struggled to find good lines among the deep ruts in the road. Fans greeted us with cowbells and waved us on with Belgian and Lion of Flanders flags. At the summit we passed under a Dirk Hofman Motorhomes sign and caught a quick glimpse of the chapel of St. John of God before the high-speed descent of Highland Drive. There was no truce at the top this year; Lovers Lane had furnished the 2013 Cheesehead Roubaix with its first selection. The big group that had left Newburg about 30 minutes before was now strung out over a mile and a half.

I was among the last riders to leave Newburg but with a good showing on Lovers Lane I was able to catch some riders with whom I knew I could work. We quickly settled into a strong chasing group that steadily reeled in the leaders. It happened sooner than I expected, and it was almost perversely disappointing. I had done good work with Russell Jobs, Barry Zellmer and others. We earned the “catch,” but at the moment it all came back together the leaders inexplicably slowed as we passed north of Fredonia.

After crossing State Highway 57 we hit the second unpaved sector, and we hit it hard. I had climbed Lovers Lane well and I had worked to bridge a gap, but it was on Willow Valley Road that I knew I was going to perform well all day. I floated along at 22-23 mph and found myself near the front of the ride. I would stay among the leaders all the way into Belgium.

Belgianwerkx—the new bike shop in Mequon—sponsored a rest stop at the village park in Belgium. Riders stopped to grab snacks, refill water bottles, and use the bathrooms. This was the fourth edition of Cheesehead Roubaix but the first one to feature a rest stop. It was a much-appreciated addition.

The lead group reached the rest stop at 10:30 a.m., by which time the cloud cover still had not lifted and the temperature was only 55 degrees. Riders were anxious to resume, knowing that several more unpaved roads would appear in rapid succession. At about the 30-mile mark, I lost the leaders for good. I restarted well—never a certainty after a rest stop—but I simply wasn’t going the hang on in that strong company. Making the right-hand turn at the south end of Sauk Trail Road, I started to work my way back west with Barry Zellmer, a single-speeding Wade Loberger, and others.

That group picked up Matt Kosloske a few miles outside Fredonia as the day was warming rapidly under clearing skies. Matt was out of food and water, so I led him to a mini-mart at the top of the hill west of Waubedonia Park while the others continued without us. With a little caffeine and a few hundred quick calories, Matt made the sort of recovery you’d expect from an 18-year-old and followed me until at Mile 54 we caught a small group that included Belgianwerkx’s Nick Moroder and Jessica Helmlinger. Hitting the last gravel sector at Mile 56.5, I indulged a late surge of adrenaline before cruising to the base of the short-but-steep final climb, Congress Drive. For many riders, that hill was the sting in the tail of the Cheesehead Roubaix route. Appearing at Mile 61, Congress Drive is a great place to get a really bad cramp. I had felt a couple of twinges during the approach on Wausaukee, so I stayed in the saddle and spun up Congress in my easiest gear.

Last year on an almost-identical course I finished Cheesehead Roubaix in 3:52.28, an average of 16.3 mph. This year my total moving time was 3:25:16, an average of 18.4 mph. Light winds helped, as did the cooperation of other riders. My top speed was 33.8 mph on the Highland Drive descent. Total elevation gain was 1,099 feet and calorie burn—an imprecise stat based on effort and body weight—was something like 4,672. That’s a good workout, any way you slice it.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the ride!  Let’s do it again next year.


  1. the boy and I finished in 4:09...... had a bunch of stops because of a deflating tire on a friends bike..... I think we could have done it sub 4:00....... next year
    Alex/Christian Pieper

  2. Great job pulling together a fantastic event Dave! I wish I could've been there but thanks to Moroder Photography I get to see incredible images of the day.