Aaron’s comments in green
This was the inaugural year for the Rocheport Roubaix, hosted by UltraMax Sports, and it didn’t disappoint. This race offers several distance options and covers some great gravel leaving from Rocheport, MO and heading east, taking riders in and out of the MO River flood plains. Still being fairly early in the year, I opted for the 55 mile option. Now, before you Cup O Dirt Challengers out there call shenanigans, read the whole post!
When I first heard about this ride, I dispatched a message to the far corners of the state in hopes of recruiting some other riders. Team Virtus answered, and on race day we had 9 brave souls towing the line. We rolled out in the 15 deg temps and quickly separated into groups over the first few climbs. Aaron and I settled into a comfortable pace and began the slog eastward.
Comfortable = Slow
While I’m usually not a fan of hauling my fat carcass up climbs, those we encountered were a welcome chance to raise our temps and keep our bodies warm. Luke and I had done a recon ride of a portion of the course the week prior, but I felt much stronger on the hills during the race. Maybe my body was numb or the couple extra Sufferfest videos I squeezed into the week made a difference, either way no complaints. The descents on the course proved to be a great opportunity for our eyeballs to freeze. I could feel my contacts getting stiff and opted to wear my sunglasses as a wind break.
The course was marked very well and we never needed to refer to maps. There were also aid stations every 15 miles or so. These gave us a good chance to get some liquid water in our bodies. Our water bottles had frozen within the first 15 miles and were all but useless. I would be surprised if I drank a bottle worth of liquid over the whole course. The stops also stocked Hammer gel, pickles, and a few other popular race choices. You could really tell that UltraMax Sports knows how to put on an event.
After a few stops to water the local flora, Aaron and I figured out that whenever we felt too cold, we could just stop for a minute, pee, and our bodies would warm up. I’m marking this up to our blistering speeds creating such a gale force of wind resistance that it was freezing us. Regardless of the physics involved, hopping off the bikes and walking a few spots did wonders for warming up our hands and feet.
It was amazing the difference it made! The tough part was the lead feeling in my legs after the stop.
Now it seems like every ride is characterized by some odd feature. Certainly the cold makes this one stand out, but more so than that were the chickens. We passed by rogue chickens 4 times over the course (I’m pretty sure it was the same 2 chickens). They weren’t near any farm houses or barns, so I can only assume they were on the lamb. My guess is that they were actually mortal enemies, looking to meet up and fight to the death over the hen they both love. Somewhere in all the clucking, the exact coordinates for their dual was mis-communicated. Now, they will forever roam the countryside, each unwilling to give up his honor. That’s just one man’s theory though.
As we headed back toward Rocheport over death by a thousand hills, we had the luxury of getting pelted in the face with sleet. Unfortunately this only lasted for a few miles, so we can’t really claim any badges of courage from it. We cruised back to the finish line over some remarkably smooth gravel (I’ve heard some call this “pavement”) and was greeted at the finish with hot chili, free beer, and a warm place to relax.
Unfortunately, as an official admin of the Cup O Dirt Challenge, I couldn’t come within just 6 miles of a metric century and call it quits to enjoy the siren song of warmth. I said some quick hellos, and then headed down to the Katy Trail for a quick 3 mile out and back. This ended up being the absolute coldest part of the whole day. Being totally flat, I wasn’t able to ride fast enough to keep my hands warm on the trail and nearly froze to death. Luckily, it was just a quick ride and I was back to the comforts of warmth before I knew it. Well worth the chance to rack up a metric.
All said it was a good day on the bike and a chance to catch up with some friends. It was a fun course and one I’ll undoubtedly be revisiting as I train up for future rides.
Clothes – Here is what kept me comfortable all day…
- Head – Lazer helmet with winter insert – these helmets fit great and come with lots of extras
- Hands – Spa Sports Lobster gloves – had my hands sweating most of the day, just not easy to eat while wearing
- Feet- Pearl Izumi winter riding shoes and keen wool socks = warm and comfy feet all day
- Torso – military issue silk weight base layer, long sleeve wool jersey, and Bontrager RXL Jacket = not too hot, not too cold and good ventilation
- Legs – LG bib shorts, military issue silk weight base layer, Bontrager RXL Softshell tights = Thick enough to keep me warm without being restrictive
Solid food – Figs, hammer/GU/Cliff gels – relying on liquid nutrition would have been bonk city
Beard – Within minutes I had a frozen protective layer on my face.
- Water Bottles – Frozen in the first hour- Maybe should have added a bit of whiskey to each to keep from freezing. I ended up moving one from the bike to my center jersey pocket, which melted enough for a gulp every few miles.
- Katy Trail miles – way too cold for flat riding, hills are your friends on cold days
I was really warm except my feet and above my glasses/below my face mask. Water bottles were basically useless, and the gels were tough to choke down. Overall great day a bike that I haven’t ridden much lately.
If you’re ever in our neighborhood(MO) and looking to ride at a slightly embarrassing slow pace, just hit us up! We’re always looking to meet knew riders!