Hilly Billy Roubaix

Hey readers!  Man, I suck at blogging this year.  Add it to the list.  My whole intent for this scene is to spread large amounts of cycling cheer and sing it loud for all to hear… well, I mean type about it and I just havent been able to make it happen.  Bummer, but I HAVE recently attended two seriously bad ass bike gigs (America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride around Lake Tahoe and the Stoopid 50 in State College, PA that I’m jonesin to tell you about!), but I gotta continue to save those for another time.. I hope.  Right now I am still coming down from my first Hilly Billy high and I gotta talk about it...

We all line up for a short neutral jaunt out to the main road.  A few moments at our first intersection and we all collectively head right down the first huge hill.  The cluster of bikes is slightly concerning as we are all picking up some solid speed.  I cant help but think how fast and efficient this moment is knowing it must be ending very soon.  Before I know it we veer off to the left and start our first gravel double track of the day.  With the event being a mountain and/or cross bike race on “all state roads”.. yeeeeeaaaah..  the cluster thinned out in no time and we were quickly amongst our equally paced counterparts.  Cool.  Go fast people.. be gone!  Now I can settle into a groove and try to bring my heart rate down to something bearable.  Man, that hurts!

The aid stations are approximately 20, 40, 60 miles with the race finishing around 70-72.  I still dont even know.   I wanted to take this on a little more race pace than my last few adventures, but there was a concern in the back of my head since I didnt really know what my race pace was and/or how long it would last.  Yeah, vitally important at this moment, but eh, I’ll figure it out.  I find myself chasing down Stacie Truszkowski (Steel City Endurance)Woohoo!  So stoked if we can hang today! She keeps me working for it and a smidge out of my comfort level to keep up.  She would pull away from me on the climbs.. making it look fairly effortless (rub it in, why dont’cha!) and as I crest each hill borderline passing out I somehow manage to gain enough speed to catch back up and pass her.  She would jump on my wheel and follow my line down the rest of the way.  We worked together really well with that which made it much more fun!

We are in and out of aid station 1 nice and quick.  A shout out to all the awesome volunteers and home owners offering up their place/property for the gig.  So nice!

I heard stories of last year being a blazing ball of firey hot sun of a day with quite a few DNFs, so  I gotta say the weather was pretty sweet for this endeavor.  Most of the day we were on roads and in the elements but a few “roads” (yeah, I’m using quotes) were tucked in the woods, tree covered, one legit stream crossing, very mountain biker comfy and pot holes you could lose a zip car in.  A rider came blaring past me at one point (I think I was pussy footing it too much for him going around a small lake) and he went straight through the middle of it and ended up thigh deep and drudging out the other end.. oh my it was glorious I tell you.  Glorious! 

We reach what I consider to be the toughest climb of the day about 30+ miles in.  The grade is ridiculous, the loose gravel makes it madness and my sizzlin’ quads decide when it is unrideable.  Stac and I both end up walking to the top and are greeted by Kate and Greta and their magnificant unoFISHal ade stop.  I will just say it is amazing what a few friendly and smiling faces can do for your energy and motivation level after that hike a bike!  Thanks ladies!!  Then boom.. we’re at aid station 2.  The volunteers are great at attending to the riders, filling our camelbaks for us, and one pb&j was so overloaded with j it straight knocked my nasty socks off.  So, so good and gave me the extra vavavavoom I needed.  

As we headed out I cannot decide if I am relieved that we are ALREADY about half way or concerned that we are ONLY about half way.  Stacie and I both agreed we needed to tone it down a smidge with our pace and were feeling it.  Having each other really made all the difference for us.. at least me.   However, my endurance miles from this year were starting to kick in and I was slowly feeling better and get more into a zone (and I definitely was able to eat better), while Stacie was starting to tucker out and starting to talk herself into falling off the back.  Early on we agreed to leave the other behind if our paces varied too much but I changed my mind and wasnt interested in that idea anymore. 

She’s bringing our conversation up and telling me to pull ahead if I can and she’ll be fine, but I just see no sense in it.  I can see her a but a few minutes or hills back.. just enough out of site to make it a little more boring and potentially slow us both down overall.  Nope.. we’re sticking it out together.  We definitely had a few miles where she just seemed pretty cooked (not that I was much better) and we were both focused on the goal at hand and all conversations ended (seriously, powers).  I looked back a few times expecting to see she dropped back a little and she was right there with me.. every time.  🙂 

We make our way to aid 3 and it was just so nice to see everyone!  Gina was there with some family, the treats were great, the friendliness and energy was awesome.  Good people!  I love it!  We head out a little recharged and ready for our final 10.  I think we both felt good heading into it, but I heard stories this could be the hardest 10 we’ve had yet.  Nicely done JR.  Seriously.  

We kept pressing on.  Up the “wall” of a hill around mile 65.  (A serious bitch for that moment of my life but it was paved and ridable.  I think that other hill back around 32 was tougher.)  My gears started to call it quits before I was ready to and shifting started to get a little uncooperative in the last mile or so.. thank goodness it wasnt any earlier than that.  I got stuck in my big ring on the very last climb and Stacie pulled away from me up to the finish.  Aw man, if I have to walk this I’m gonna be pissed.  After a few zig zags and begging and pleading it eventually drops down into my smaller ring and it takes me the whole climb to catch back up.  I ask her if we are rolling in side by side (the only right thing to do) and she wasnt having it.  I had to go first.  She’s so stubborn sometimes!  (Hell yeah, you are!  *hugs*) We are cruising along and that beeyatch picks up the pace and tells me I gotta work for it.  Says something like “let’s give them a show”.. hahaha.  You gotta be kidding me!  I just burned my last match catching back up and had nothing left in the tank.  It works though (interested when you think your on fumes and you find a small reserve from somewhere) and we both pick up the pace and charge for the finish line.  It was too funny to me.  I’m smiling, laughing and thinking Stac is right behind me just like earlier in the day but she has fallen back some… so now it just looked like I’m a jag off and out sprinted my friend in the last 20 feet of a 70+ mile race.  Yeah, cuz that’s how I roll, bitches!

I could not have asked for a better day.  Really great course, friends, weather, aid station support, course markings, and by God if I didnt eat the bestest cupcakes on this EARTH at the finish line / pavilion!  No LIE!  There is a facebook thread about it, so it must be true!  I would definitely do this race again and I recommend it.. if your the crazy, long mileage, freakish terrained road racer type.  I’d possibly consider cross tires on a mountain bike though, but I gotta little while to decide.  Cheers!  We did it! 🙂

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