Monday, March 24, 2014

Love Valley Roubaix

This past weekend, I opted to pass on the Barry Roubaix for something a little closer to home. Being that the Love Valley Roubaix is promoted by Blue Mountain Revival Productions, I knew that it would be an event that should not be missed.

The LVR begins and ends in a tiny town near Statesville, NC that goes by the name of Love Valley. The town is unique in that it looks like it is straight out of the old West. A narrow dirt road takes you back in time with a board walk/porches standing under buildings that are straight out of an old western movie. A walk down the dusty, horse travel only road leads to the Silver Spur Saloon AKA registration.
Photo Cred: Eric Wever
Photo Cred: Eric Wever
Photo Cred: Eric Wever

Lining up in the middle of town, I didn't recognize many faces but by the looks of it, I was surrounded by a strong field of roadies. As we rolled out, the rain drops began to fall which would signal the cold conditions that would follow. It took all of a few minutes to confirm that I was indeed surrounded by roadies and this was going to be a road race. I tried to sit back in the group and play "the game" but I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea of sitting up when I came to give it my all and test out my fitness. I lead the group up the first climb and tried to up the pace but people were content to sit back. I didn't have any idea of what lay ahead but I did know it was way to soon to go solo.

About 15 miles in, at the base of what appeared to be a significant climb, I decided to attack and see if anyone was willing to come along. Much to my surprise, there were 10 or so riders who stuck with me. We once again settled into the routine of three or so riders taking pulls while the rest sat in the back. While sitting third wheel, the three of us missed a turn which would prove to be a huge mistake. Realizing the error immediately, we got back on course and I proceeded to chase with all I had into what would turn out to be a long climb. I closed the gap but had payed the price. An attack was made on the climb (around mile 30) and I couldn't respond. My legs were done and groin cramps were the confirmation.

Photo Cred: Daren Wilz
From there on out, I found myself in survival mode, hoping to not get caught by any groups that were behind me. The dirt roads had turned to mush which made the riding quite interesting with muscles that were cramping under any sustained power. I finished up in 2:45,  6 minutes behind the winning time, 8th overall and 5th in the 30-39 category.

Once again, I was schooled by some excellent roadies. If I want to do well in races like this, I have to accept sitting in as being ok and a smart tactic. I do think that I would have stayed near the front if the turn wasn't missed and I hadn't had to chase so hard to regain the group. The final sketchy downhill would have definitely been in my favor with my mountain bike setup. I'm assuming that the "players" knew the course and the attack at mile 30 was all part of the plan. I can see how having course knowledge and a plan can really work out well if played out right. Maybe next time I find myself in a "road" race, I'll sit in more and race smart but then again probably not.

As a side note.. it was so cold out there that about half of the field DNF or DNS. I ended up only being able to shift with my palm for the last 15 miles. I could not undo the buckle on my helmet after the race. It took me 30 minutes to get my clothes off while laying in the back of a warm car and I shivered non-stop for an hour after the race. Maybe next year, changing after the race should be included as part of the race!

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