Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Rouge Roubaix Gran Fondo: Part 1

First off, this was an amazing event.  It is well organized, challenging, and different.  What really makes this event memorable for me though was the camaraderie of the participants that I rode with.  I have said it before, I love moving around the nation and participating in different events.  This is the epitome of that.

The Rouge Roubaix is quite possibly one of the best rides I have been on.  Advertised as a ride to determine true grit, it lives up to its name.  There are two events, a bona fide race, and a Gran Fondo (pretentious for a non-completive century).  Of course I don’t race so I signed up for the Gran Fondo.  As usual, I did so late in the game.  St. Francisville is a small between Baton Rouge, LA and the Mississippi border.  I began to call for a hotel room and found a lack of them in the area.  I booked a room at what turned out to be the hotel where the race starts.  Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut.  

Upon looking it up I found that it wasn’t geographically that far away, but thanks to the rivers and swamps in Louisiana, it was a pain to get there.  Driving anywhere in Louisiana is an adventure, the roads are horrible, most are narrow and winding as they pass through small town after small town.



I have gotten a little smarter over the years and with an ok paycheck and vaction days I now take the day off to drive and get there early the day before and when possible spend multiple nights rather than ride one hundred miles and then drive.  When I arrived I was excited to see Mavic support outside of the hotel.  


I went inside and picked up my packet, nice swag bag (the ride was pricey) with sweatshirt, T-shirt, and water bottle.  It also came with a voucher for a few local restaurants.  I unpacked, unloaded my stuff and went to dinner.  I chose a place called the Magnolia Cafe and found something that reminded me of Missoula, MT.  A restaurant in a house, some walls were opened but it was fun to be in what were obviously different rooms.  

I ordered an amazing steak, far execeeding any of my expectations.  Of course it was nearly $30 but with the voucher my wife would think I was being very reasonable with a “$18 meal.”  I do enjoy alone time, work is hectic and it gives me time to reflect on life.  So I savored my food and went to my room for the night.


My standard preparation applied:

I ordered a new set of 28mm Continental GatorSkins.  The majority of those that race do so on actual road bikes with 25mm tires.  I don’t have a traditional road bike and brought my Giant Revolt.  It always looks odd with “skinny” tires since the roadies don’t consider 28mm skinny and my Revolt will take up to a 50mm tire (2 inches in American).  I am pleased with my choice since, strangely the pavement was rougher than the dirt/packed sand of the Tunica Hills.

Nutrition: a warning to all those who try this for the first time.  There are SAG stops with great food, however, I didn’t bring nearly enough energy/quick snacks.  I was saved by my riding companions who adopted me and took care of me.  The SAGs leap frog and if you are slow you will miss them.   You will only have maybe 2-3 gas stations.  This is remote.  I drank a bunch of water the day before (I am getting better).

Ride as much as possible:  As usual it is never enough.  Family, work, and work always get in the way.  I think the most mileage I got in on any one ride was about 30 miles.  Plus there are no long climbs where I live.  

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