The Dirty South Roubaix was on my radar since I first saw it posted. It was a little farther away than I wanted to drive by myself to and from on the same day. I also have a full enough calendar that I really didn’t want to spend for another hotel room. When I found out that one of my teammates was making the trip, it was a no brainer. It would be a fairly early morning, but the race is in a different time zone to help with that. The drive over went well and we found ourselves behind the Bushong van as we got close to the start.
We checked in and started getting ready. I was not as prepared as I needed to be on a couple bike things and I also took a long time trying to figure out what to wear. It was supposed to get fairly warm, but it was much colder getting ready than I expected. I just ran with my decision on clothes and hoped for the best. I figured I would not always be warm enough, but hopefully not too cold for too long. Before I knew it, I was needing to grab my things and line up. This was the first year for this race and I was pretty surprised as how many people were there. I really think that if this race was not the same weekend as Southern Cross, it would have been even more people there.
After a few words by the promoter, we were going down the road for a neutral start. I was not trying to be too far to the front. I didn’t really expect the legs to show up good enough to be there. But, there were a few small inclines as we rolled along and several people were slowing down more than I wanted and I found my way back toward first group on the road. The pace car pulled away and I kind of expected it to just go crazy. The guys at the front may have picked the pace up, but it was not a full blown attack. I was able to hang out with some riders and work on warming the legs up.
After a couple hills, up and down and then the first part of gravel, I found myself in some company that I am not used to being in. I was riding in the pack that Bushong was riding in. That typically has made me wonder if I was going too hard. I was feeling good and tried to make sure that I was not over cooking it too early. I hung around in that area for a little while, but eventually he pulled away on a climb. It was early and I was still not sure if I was going too hard or not, so I just settled in at a comfortable pace and climbed away. The first big switch back type climb was pretty long. There were areas that I though we were at the top only to find myself climbing again. I will say there were several sections that if I had a camera with me, it would have been very easy for me to pull over and take some pictures. It was a very pretty area.
When I was on the rollers at the top a rider that was wearing the Saint Nichols Brewing Company team kit. I knew he had to be local and knew the roads. I pushed a little harder in areas that I would not have because of him.This was a very good thing. It let me keep the pace up and climb hills faster than I would have not knowing just how long they were or weren’t. I let everything hang out on the main down hill on this section. Apparently it was going well. Strava had me in 4th place overall on this section, well at least against the riders who are on Strava.
Toward the end of this section I was taking a turn up front. He said the road section would be soon and we should try to bridge the gap up to the riders in front of us. So, I picked it up a little and pulled them in. I found Bushong in this group. Most of this group stayed together for the road section and the beginning of the levee. Zach from Hashtag bikes joined us on the levee. This part was the hardest section of the ride. It was basically flat, but the wind made it very painful. The group started to splinter and soon enough I too was spit off the back. Zach and Bushong were putting in just a little too much power for me and knew we still had a long way to go.
I was stuck along for a little while, but eventually another rider who was part of the group at the beginning of the levee, rejoined me. Together we took turns trying to finish this section up. At one point we turned left and the cross wind was so hard I thought I was going to be blown off of the levee. I was leaning to the right very hard just to stay on the path. I was very happy when this section finally ended. But, it didn’t take too much down the road that we were climbing a steep and loose section of climbs. I was really feeling the effects of the levee and just tried to keep moving forward.
Overall this section was really nice and scenic, but there was some sections of chunky gravel that also made it interesting. Eventually we came down another fast and fun but chunky down hill. There was another guy near me that was all excited about how crazy that hill was and then all of a sudden, his tire was loosing air. It really didn’t not shock me after what we just went down. I was thankful that I was tubeless and managed to stay aired up for that section. Not too far after this, I was spit out on to another road section. I was out there by myself for this whole section. I didn’t see anyone in front of me or behind me. I was told that this was a tail wind section, but I sure didn’t feel it. I just did what I could to keep the pedals turning and moving forward. It is easy to sit up or stop and eat up a lot of time. The legs were feeling it and I kept eating and drinking to keep fueled up. I guess I did a pretty good job of this as I kept riding better than expected.
After we crossed back over the levee section we took a right to head back toward the finish line. As I turned the back wheel slid out on me. I knew right away that it was flat or really close. I stopped and checked it. I put some air in it and got back on. it did a pretty good job for a while. The tire kept loosing a little air and I could tell it was lower pressure than what I prefer. I tried to take it easy on it, but shorty after the creek crossing in the picture above, it was low enough that I needed to stop again. I put some more air in it. At this point my teammate Lovins pulled up. He wanted to make sure I had everything I needed. I guess he saw me stop the first time to put air in it, but just could not quite catch me. If I would have looked back, I probably would have eased up so we could join forces.
The tire held for the rest of the race, but it was not at the pressure I wanted it to be. I kept waiting for it to go flat again, but managed to hold on. I heard about a huge climb at the finish. The legs were really tired, but I was ready to be done. I was surprised at the pace that I was climbing the last hill and was just waiting for the point that my legs give up. Maybe the power of the finish line was pulling me through. I powered up the last climb and rolled across the line. I finished in 4:17 and ended up in 5th place in the sport class. I was very happy with my effort and how well I rode. I was also very happy with 5th place, but that back part of the brain does wonder what would have happened if the tire didn’t start to loose air. I do not think I had enough in the legs to catch 3rd place and get on the podium, but I know I would have been close. Maybe next time!!
For a first time event these guys did a great job!! The course was marked very well and there were volunteers at most of the intersections just to make sure people didn’t go the wrong way. The roads were very enjoyable. This is an area that I could go ride just for fun. I may have to schedule a long weekend down that way. Thanks to all the volunteers and everyone that made this race possible. Thanks to my teammate Lovins for being like minded and helping twist my arm to make the trip. This is on my to do list for next year. I really hope my schedule works out so I can make it.
Here is a video by Zach Andrews of the first 1.5 hours of the race. I get a lot of coverage near the end when we are riding together on the levee section.