I was meant to be at Steele Creek. I have already written that I should be there, but I am not. I wish that I was a professional motorcycle racer, but alas I have a job. Jobs get in the way of fun. Steele Creek and GNCC racing is part of spring time. I am kinda bummed though, as this is probably the only spring time GNCC race that I can make.
Every year spring comes around. Birds chirping, snow goes away, days become longer, the MTB trails become clear of snow, bikes get dusted off, roads become clear of debris, April showers bring May flowers and all that stuff. It is a glorious time. Sometimes in past years, I have thought of one last ski trip or an early trip to Fruita or something like that. But I have been preoccupied with one thing this year – Paris Roubaix. I have been all about that one thing. L’Enfer du Nord. Oh baby.
It all started for me last fall. I had the opportunity to meet with the people from ASO about Trek staying involved with their citizen events during the Tour de France as we had been for the previous 3 years. During the course of those conversations the Paris Roubaix citizen race, the day before the pro race, became part of the conversation. ASO was going to put on a citizen race the day before.
It was going to be hard. After all, Paris Roubaix is for the hardest of the hard. If you win that race as a pro, you are the man. ASO had the goal of showing a bunch of citizens exactly how hard it is, the day before the race. All the banners would be up, the barricades would be up, there would already be people in the forest preparing for the pro race the next day. Holy cow! I made the decision right then and there that I was doing that race.
So since that day in October, I have been planning to be there on the start line, with a few thousand other people preparing to go into hell. I have been riding crappy pavement roads, looking for dirt roads, riding the trainer etc… I have been soliciting advice from teams and mechanics all over the world. What do I ride, how do I prepare, how do I ride it the day of etc… My mind is swirling with all of that advice. Double handlebar tape, big tubular tires, keep your pace and your cadence up, do not under any circumstances slow down and down shift (downshift equals death), no watches or wedding rings as your wrists will break and you will have to cut the ring off your hands will be so swollen, ride the path on the side if you can, stay on the crown, do not change your line… I already am nervous and have butterflies in my stomach. The great gang over at Rapha did a recce of the course a couple of weeks ago, you can see that here.
For the citizen race it is just 150k. 17 sections of cobblestone roads. Roads that the Romans built or farmers or someone a long time ago. They were not really meant to still be there. But, they are. And they are bad. If you watch some of the video’s below, you will see what I mean. Oh ya, it will also probably be about 45 degrees and raining.
If you are a cyclist, and anywhere near my age, you have grown up watching Fabian Cancellera, Francesco Moser, Gilbert Duclos Lesalle, Bernard Hinault, George Hincapie, Sean Kelly etc… tackling the hell of the north. When I was just getting into cycling, I remember watching A Sunday in Hell movie featuring Eddie Merckx. Now, I am going to ride the same roads and the same cobbles. Wow.
Watch one or more of these to get the feel for what it will be like. I did not make it to Steele Creek, but I am going to Hell!