Throw Up Thursday: Rouge Roubaix 2013

You’ve heard of Throwback Thursday. We prefer to call it Throw Up Thursday. Remind yourself of the suffering you endured at a prior race, telling yourself at the time you’ll never do it again. Yet by the time next year’s edition of the race rolls around, you’ve signed up for it, and dragged along a few friends.

K-Dogg takes us back to his 2013 Rouge Roubaix experience, long before Gravel Cyclist was a twinkle in JOM’s eye. Over to K-Dogg…


Five Mile Bridge – March 10, 2013

Bridge… Must… be around… NEXT corner…. groan!… maybe NEXT corner… aaaagh!  Where the @#*% is that Five Miles from the FREAKIN’ End BRIDGE?!

Keep going…. turn that big gear. DON’T lose that wheel in front… it just gets EVEN harder! Hate my chain… chain gang… that’s what I’m freakin’ on – a chain gang – doing life without parole! Out of GUs, fuzzy thinking, on the verge of swooning. Somebody make me stop!

This is what the last 20 miles of Rouge Roubaix, the 15th edition felt like… somewhere just before the “Five Miles From the End” Bridge. Mile after mile of twisty, turny, rough chip seal roads. Every corner looks the same. BANG through the pot holes, SLAM over two dozen wooden bridges and DODGE the dodgy bits. All on your skinny tire road bike. The only concession to conditions was to bleed tire pressure to 90psi.

This awaits you at Mile 80. 17% on gravel.
This awaits you at Mile 80. 17% on gravel.

Even before that there were 101 miles of big hills… big paved hills… big dirt hills… with steep wheel-sucking sand patches and slippery marble-strewn, scary descents over and over. When the hills flattened out, Mr. Gusty Headwind showed up and spoiled the pack party. Keep going, keep going. Save a little punch for the dirt sections if you can. Eat another Double Shot if ya got it.


Don’t Drop the GU

Pfaff Daddy dropped the GU I gave him. The one he REALLY had counted on getting him home. I had just rolled up to him and JOM after chasing (with two other guys) for two hours due to an early flat. Our boys were with the shattered remnants of the first 40+ chase group which failed to bring back 5 Pro-Elite Masters.

JOM-Cam, Sector 1 of the 40+ race.
Excerpt from JOM’s race video, Sector 1 of the 40+ race.

They were exhausted from the noble effort.

“I see you still have that GU I gave you this morning” I said.  It was sticking out of Pfaff Daddy’s left shorts leg. “Yeah, I really need it now” he groaned. Then, like a bad dream, it suddenly fell to the ground and popped a few wheels back. His entire body slumped so hard there was a shock wave. “No soup for you”! said Chef Roubaix.

JOM and I took a few pathetic pulls to help the pack out. Suddenly, the two guys I bridged with punched it up a hill. On the verge of fainting I managed to bridge up then looked back. Nothing back there. So sad, JOM and Pfaff Daddy bye bye off the back.

The fourth and last dirt sector came and went bringing tears to our eyes. My two younger companions (40 and 43) had mercy on their older shadow and didn’t insist I match pull for pull. For a while. I was no threat to their race I kept telling them. They didn’t seem to believe me but I kept clawing back from their increasingly unfriendly surges.


The Bridge

My goal was to stay with them to the bridge. To the Bridge… the Bridge. All will be fine after the Bridge. Eventually we hit the Five Miles To Go Bridge. Everything should be fine now. Two miles to go and my buddies left me struggling up one last hill. One mile to go and my front tire went flat. “You gotta be FREAKIN’ kidding” I mumbled to no one. Luckily a wheel truck was right there. Unluckily the only spare left had a CX tire so wide I barely could pound it on with brakes wide open. I spun it. Nothing happened. The tire was so tall it dragged on my fork crown.

Criminy! This race cursed me to the very end!

One mile to go. I was afraid of capture any second. Nothing for it but to buck it home. Like a stuck pig it squealed every rotation. Squeal! Squeal! Squeal!

Burning rubber was a worry but soon the finish line rolled past. The tire survived but now sported a flat top. The crowd cheered wildly for every hollow faced racer that finished – mostly solo. I had never seen such a far-away look in Pfaff Daddy’s weary face. But now we could sit down at least. Pfaff Junior (racing in Cat 4) worried us coming in half an hour later, but he had two flats.

K-Dogg on the top spot of the 55+ podium!
After all that, K-Dogg won the 55+ race!

Irish Ed was in 4th position 2/3rd into the Cat 4 race but somehow faded from there. The quiet man wasn’t elaborating. JOM was just “knackered” from his effort in the Masters 40+ race. He too suffered a punctured tire.

Rouge Roubaix2013-1
Pfaff Daddy, K-dogg, Irish Ed and JOM post-Roubaix.

After showers, jambalaya and local beer JOM and Irish Ed lay horizontal in the room avoiding their painful “Roubaix Butts.” They swore they would never do this race again. Two hours later they couldn’t wait to race it again. They must have spotted the Five Mile Bridge and hope was renewed.


P.S. JOM shot video of this race, and will be featured in a future edition of Throw Up Thursday!