Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rouge Roubaix

The story of Rouge-Roubaix hasn't came out yet because I wasn't sure how to approach it. It is hard to be happy because I am realizing my capabilities and feel proud of myself while at the same time be so frustrated and sad. No, this isn't the start of some terrible pop song. This is the story of Rouge-Roubaix and how it changed me as a cyclist.

The great thing about my new job is I don't work on the weekends. So I decided on the Tuesday before that I would go down to Rouge and kill/destroy/potentially end up crying. I knew I wanted to race the 3/4 race (4/5 was an option) and I knew I needed to go hard for 104 miles. I hadn't done any training rides over about 75 so far this year and knew that this was going to be a pretty gnarly day for me. I figured with my fitness, bike handling skills, and general frustration from my last road race would fuel me to around mile 90, then I could figure the rest out. I couldn't find anyone from MB/BPC that wanted to go down and race so Andrea decided she would come with me. She figured it would be a good day on the bike that would help prep her for the rest of the season.

We drove down on Saturday with the race being Sunday morning. We drove straight down, went to the course, and went to do a pre-ride. My nerves were getting to me and I generally freaked out during the preride. I was having a hard time riding the gravel, was getting beat up, and generally was not a happy camper. When we hit the second gravel section to preview the biggest hill of the race, which has a $100 KOM prize at the top for each race, I cried. We rode through 30 or so yards of 4'' deep sand, then we rode down this huge hill that had a 3/4'' layer of sand on the surface. It was time to flip a U and go back race direction. I couldn't ride the hill. In all of my life I had never encountered a hill I couldn't ride, but this was a huge bitch. The sand meant I was going slow, slow as hell actually. The layer of sand added in meant that as I stalled out and tried to turn to stay up, my front wheel would dig in and I would stop, falling over.

As a 25 year old, hot shot mountain biking, single speeding, fuck everyone I can do anything rider this destroyed me. I sat down in the middle of the road and cried. I had told myself I was going to do well at this race and that I would be fine with anything thrown at me and hear I was, feeling delusional about my ability. It was like this big hill in Louisiana kicked my face in. The next problem was trying to get going again. I hate my Speedplay pedals. I have trouble clipping in when leaving my cove for a road ride, let alone trying to do a flying remount on a steep hill covered in sand. I was destroyed, broken, and wanting to go home.

Once over the top of the hill, back through the sand from hell, back to the car I wanted to throw up, fly home in a helicopter, and never ride my bike again. We went to the race hotel and found out they had rooms open so I cancelled my room at the other hotel and we loaded into the room.  After wrestling with my inner demons and getting over the idea of getting raging drunk and not racing the next day I calmed down. Turns out whatever cable TV they had at the hotel played a marathon of some show that should have been called "Holy Shit-Balls These Are The Cutest Animals Ever" but it was really called "So Cute" or something. Anyways, after a 2.5 hour brainwash of a show that has personified kittens and puppies playing with each other as they grow from birth to around 4 months I was calmed down some. I fell asleep.

Race morning was awesome,  I didn't throw up on myself and I did my best "I should be here" by lining up in the second row behind Tim Moore of 901Racing and a guy who used to live in Memphis and moved away. The neutral rollout was very neutral. I started eating early and stayed calm. I knew that Tim Moore would be good. I was planning to follow him as long as I could. We hit the first gravel and it was like a bunch of roadies, hopped up on coffee and testosterone, just turned road bikes onto a gravel road. . . wait. They did. Bikes and people cussing everywhere.  Some guy did the worlds worst remount and swerved into me, so I yelled on your left as he swerved and made use of all 150 of my pounds in order to stay upright. There was a little break, but I knew the feedzone was after this long, long gravel section. I knew I could catch the stragglers of the front group so I stayed on it as hard as I could. Strong guys who had wrecked or gotten caught up kept coming through, but they also were jack-offs who couldn't corner on gravel. I wasn't strong enough to ride away from them but I kept feeling jammed up in any turn or anywhere that needed some turning, jiving, not hitting holes.

Some more people wrecked and I t-boned a guy, didn't go down, just full stop, unclip, start over.  I was pissed. I had driven all the way down here and I was going to get dropped in the first gravel. Nope. I caught on to the back of the lead group near the end of the gravel and popped out on the road with a bunch of people I thought were a ton faster than me.

We went pretty steady for a while, everything was cool. We hit the big hill at mile 68 and I was still with the lead group of 3/4 men. Things broke loose, some people rode all the way, some people ran, some people wrecked in front of me. I ended up being in the chase group for a good long while. I got dropped when I tried to pee while on the back. They didn't wait for me.

I made it 4.5hr mark and was feeling geat. Then the wheels started falling off. I was tired, I was dropped from the chase group that formed after the big hill, and I wanted to be done. I kept seeing people come through, I would hop on and try to go with them for a while. I ran into the issue of people in my 3/4 field working with the leaders of the Masters field that started after us and getting towed by. I kept working hard, and I finished strong. After I stopped I found a Coke, was standing around wondering when the women would finish/if I should go to the hotel and shower or if Andrea would be back in a second.

The director comes over to me "Are you Matt McCawwwlee" I said  "Yeah" he says I swear to God "Your friend Andrea was hit by a car, she is still talking though, she is at the hospital" So I pound my Coke, get all the info about hospital location, all kinds of contact info and accident info, turned my Garmin off without saving (it auto shut down because it had been stopped a long time, which would later malfunction and lose all of my data from my biggest race with powermeter), and haul ass to the hospital on my bike.

Turns out she was mostly ok, I had to ride back to the hotel, get cleaned up, I lost my shit when someone had taken my wheels out of the truck and their slow ass wasn't back yet. I mean fully lost it. I said something to the tune of "Some stupid asshole took my wheels out of the truck and I have to wait around to find them before I drive home. My friend was hit by a fucking car during the race so I really don't have time for this stupid shit. I need my wheel right fucking now I have to go" and boom, 3 minutes later my wheel turned up. I didn't fake nice. I just took it off his bike and left. The women's wheel truck wasn't back yet and I found a nice lady who took my number and called me when the wheel truck came in.

It was a long and rainy drive back to Memphis. We left Louisiana 5 hours later than anticipated (had to find all the wheels, discharge from the hospital, go to the police station). It was after midnight when we got home.

Looking back at the results I was 30th overall, 8th Cat 4. I am pleased with that result very well. It just sucks that my friend got hit by a car. I will go back next year, just not with Andrea.