That Fort Minor song that goes “10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will, 5% pleasure, 50% pain…” can be rewritten for this year’s edition of the Boulder Roubaix as 100% concentrated power of will for me. I’ve been knocked on my butt sick for a solid 2.5 weeks now, with bronchitis now extending into the 2 month zone. I missed the CSU Road Race two weeks ago, so sick I could barely move from the couch. I assumed after some antibiotics I would be good to go for the Boulder Roubaix, but the cough, sore throat, and fatigue have held on. Last Monday I tried some sweet spot intervals on the trainer, which I did indeed nail… at a 190bpm heart rate and my lungs flared up angry and I took the rest of the week off the bike. In reality I had spent like 9 hours total over 3 weeks on a bike, and none of it in a very productive manner really. But hey, I was pre-registered and this race only comes around every two years so…
To the race I went!
After pre-race shenanigans involving long lines and no toilet paper in the port-a-potties, I grabbed my bottles and headed to the start. This would be my first cat 3 road race, and I was nervous about the pace and dynamics.
Cat 4 road races go like this: Start – sprint sprint sprint. Every corner – sprint sprint sprint. Every hill – lurch to a slow grind. Then sprint sprint sprint in between.
THANKFULLY… at least in this race, it was a whole different beast! We started off slower than I start my rides from my house! I actually could take the time to get my mud-filled cleat clipped in without panic. My friend Errin was racing with me, and we both remarked how this was so different than cat 4. I was waiting for mass sprinting to start, but we just rode along in the full field of 16 at a casual pace. It was great because Errin and I got to chat and actually enjoy ourselves, and my lungs and legs could slowly warm up and accept what was happening to them. The field was largely either RacerX or ALP Cycling, so I definitely saw some team tactics opening up.
First lap went well. I think there was only two attacks, which never stuck and were reeled in quite quickly. On climbs I found my way riding up through the field which was nice to see, even though I knew I couldn’t put in the effort I knew I was capable of healthy. Towards the end of the lap where we got into more grindy asphalt climbing with some steep pitches on the gravel I could feel my limitations. I would come through to start the second (final) lap just behind the main group. Hey, I stuck with them for one lap!
Errin has been similarly sick like me, and told me to go ahead as she wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t exactly want to solo TT, but I set out. About halfway through this lap Cindy would catch me, which was nice and we stuck together, and I got to hide from the wind a bit. We would pass Lorna who had a mechanical, and she would join us, so we had a little group of 3 going into the finish. I knew my gas tank was nearly empty, but I kept pushing out of stubbornness. On the final big gravel descent I caught Michelle, so I added to my train. The finishing stretch on Oxford Road is really awful, and I ended up pulling them most of the way. I knew this would led to everyone sprinting around me, but I was ok with it as I was redlined and knew I didn’t have more to give and probably wouldn’t be able to hang on their wheels if someone else was pulling anyway. They all jumped a bit before the finish, and I rode my struggle bus of 170 watts to the finish.
So happy to have finished! Biggest chunk of riding I’ve done in weeks, and I did 1 hour 58 minutes at an average heart rate of 186, eek! I was a little sad I couldn’t throw down one of my 800+ watt sprints when it mattered, but uhhhh, I finished!!! 🙂 I felt like I definitely left it all out there on the course, and was super proud of myself for the effort I put in considering all the factors working against me! I would end up 13th, and only 2:33 off of the winner, which I found shocking as I assumed it would’ve been a much bigger gap!
The course was insanely bumpy… gone was the buttery smoothness during Old Man Winter in February, and in its place were bumps, wash board, and ruts. My hands felt like hamburger by the second lap. Both of my palms are bruised and I have a blister on the right one. Luckily my trusty Specialized Ruby survived the beating! Some places were a bit soft, which is one of those moments I thank my mountain biking skills. I also found a big mud puddle and rode through it. Because road bikes need mud, too!
Comparing to 2015, I was only 2 watts lower on average power, and several segments show comparable times which gives me some relief! I guess luckily I survived this year due to my stubbornness (or concentrated power of will, ha!) and muscle memory just taking over in a race situation.
Bike: 2012 Specialized Ruby with Continental Grand Prix 4000SII tires in 25 width with too much tire pressure
Equipment: Pearl Izumi 9seventy Racing kit, Giro pretty lace up shoes, Smith Overtake MIPS helmet, Smith sunglasses, Pearl Izumi Pro short fingered gloves
Fueling: 21oz of raspberry buzz Tailwind Nutrition consumed during race, 12 oz of plain water during race.
Now I am hoping to recover some more and possibly race the Clasica de Rio Grande in two weeks. Not my style of road racing at all with it’s rollers and complete lack of sustained climbing or lots of gravel, but if anything good training! I plan on finishing out April and my road race season with the Sunshine Hill Climb and Koppenberg Road Race. Then it’s onto racing mountain bikes and a few gravel grinders!!
2 thoughts on “Race Report – 2017 Boulder Roubaix”
Bike choice question, do you think a road bike is the best option considering wash board and soft areas. I have a Ridley X-fire that I could ride with slicks and a Salsa Warbird that can take a 41mm tire. Thanks for providing a great report!
I have only raced this particular race on a road bike, and considering the very high speed paved road portions I think it is best. It really comes down more to bike handling than choice, and knowing how to ride skinnier tires on gravel. During Old Man Winter I have ridden a cyclocross bike on portions of the course, and it was a lot slower.