So, I missed last years Hilly Billy Roubaix with much displeasure. I don't remember why specifically, but I know that all I had to ride was a road bike or a 29er with fat tires. This season has been a blur as the races seem to come by faster than I can prepare. Knowing full well I wanted to race the HBR, I hadn't planned very well to race it.
Two weeks before the race I decided to visit the crew at PathfinderWV about getting a cyclocross frame and cannibalize a road bike for parts to prepare for the HBR and the upcoming cyclocross season, neither of which I had any experience. So, with one week before the race Robbie rolls out my new matte black cyclocross machine....Sweet! Now I just needed a ride or two to dial the fit.
The HBR started out with a downhill start and quickly enters some gravel roads. Before long we were drudging through some seriously deep muddy water holes. Not to worry though, I was sporting my ultra-comfy Swiftwick socks, which would soon dry once we had a few miles on the road again. As concerned as I was about the race beforehand, I was thinking to myself this race couldn't get any better at this point, combining road and mountain bike racing for over 70miles.
I was feeling pretty good through the first half of the race. I passed up the first aid station with plans on having my lunch at the second station. I had spent the about 8 miles riding solo....no one in sight in front or behind. I was beginning to think I had missed a turn. Then, thirty-some miles in I roll in to the second aid station for a little lunch. The volunteers were great. I didn't even get my leg over the top tube of the bike before three different volunteers were grabbing the three bottles I had emptied and filling them with water and energy drinks. A forth handed me some electrolyte capsules. A big thanks to the crew at the second aid station...top-notch service.
A quick bite and I was rolling on to catch teammate Nicole D. who had rolled on past that station. After about 15-20 miles of riding with her and local Scott B., I was beginning to feel the effects of riding distances that I had yet to ride this year. It was obvious that my performance was beginning to dwindle away. I noticed my average speed was falling off quickly even though my effort hadn't let up.
Somewhere between 50-55 miles into the race I hit the "wall", which turned out to be a steep, pea-graveled climb. I felt like I had eaten plenty and drank enough fluids that I couldn't be bonking. I realized halfway up the climb that I could walk faster than I was riding. Besides, walking should allow the numbness in my feet to go away. Once I reached the top and look down to the next checkpoint, I noticed Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling teammate Derek C. and Anne directing the racers on what would soon become the toughest section of the race. Derek (who wasn't racing, but did finish 2nd in the M'town Tri the next day) gave me some sort of energy waffle...tasty...and some fluids.
After about 10-15minutes of hanging out at that checkpoint, the race course turned into a deeply rutted muddy mess of an ATV trail. I was all over the place on that trail. Apparently the newly consume energy hadn't kick in yet. But, at the next checkpoint I would consume a soda (from a crazy hillbilly holding a skunk and a beaver!) before the last 10-12miles. Finally, I had some energy and the last miles rolled by quickly. Although I didn't ride my best, I finished ahead of my first HBR goal of 6 hrs. The race was a blast. Mylan Park was the perfect place for a start/finish. And my new bike may have become my favorite.
Congratulations to all Dynamic Physical Therapy Cyclists for completing this race, as well as some podium finishes by Nate, Gunnar, Betsy, and Nicole.
Thanks to JR for putting on a great and challenging event. A big thanks to our team sponsors, especially PathfinderWV for building up my new race machine. And the biggest thanks to all the volunteers. Aid stations 2 and 3 rock! I'm already looking forward to next years race.