Barry Roubaix Psycho Killer 100

Barry Roubaix, 2021, from a woman who said "you just look so good crossing that water, can I take a picture of you" 

 I'm taking a break from bikes for a while. 

For those of you who read about Gravel Worlds DNF , you know that this is a happy opener and we should all be cheering my (hopefully temporary) descent into couch potato-dom with enthusiasm and parades. 

But the road to coach potato is fraught with many distractions, one of them being Barry Roubaix. The Barry Roubaix (play on Paris Roubaix) is actually a massive gravel race with upwards of 5000+ people held every Spring in Barry County, Michigan. This year with COVID, it was held in the Fall (Autumn colors!), there were openings (usually you have to lottery and hope...), and ... I was here, an hour-ish away from the start. OK, I'll just sign up for the 100 mile "Psycho Killer" (wtf was I thinking) and hope I am recovered by then. 

Well, I wasn't but that's OK. 

The night before, I was exhausted from a long week and really second guessing showing up to this race. I had pretty much talked myself out of waking up at 4 AM to drive to Hastings the next morning, but then I texted my friend David that I wasn't feeling great about it. Bless you David, who immediately called me and gently talked me down by talking up how great of a day I was going to have. "The roads are perfect right now, the colors are pretty, you couldn't ask for better weather... who cares that you haven't ridden in a month, you can do this just because it'll make you happy and you have the endurance" 

Huh, riding just to be happy and enjoy the day... 

Alright, I can do it. 4 AM, here I come. 

And when that alarm went off, it wasn't so terrible. And when I showed up to packet pickup, it wasn't so terrible. And when I saw my friend David at the start, that was great (!).  And when I went to the back of the 100 mile start group at 7 AM, that wasn't so terrible. And when we rolled out of town, well, I was happy. I was happy to be on my bike moving forward. 

Dark at the start

I herd thinned and I briefly chatted with people as they passed me or I passed them. We hit gravel roads a few miles out of town, and the sunrise was stunning. I acquired my new best friend for the day, Max, as I was taking a photo of the sunrise. Max definitely passes the airport test, considering we spent the next 8.5 hours talking to each other, and I frankly won the lottery of people-you-meet-at-bike-race-companions because he's a stand up comedian (I feel like I spent the day laughing) and we share a similar 2-minutes-or-less aid station ethos. 

Whenever someone asks why I bike so much, images like this that float to top of mind. 

The first 30 miles went by in a blink. I honestly was floored when I looked down and saw on my GPS that we were at 32 miles. At this point, we had a tail wind, were averaging about 15ish mph, and at the first aid station, Max excitedly suggested we 'try to get the mug' (if you finish before 6.5 hours, you get a pretty sweet mug that says you're fast). 

Me: "idk man, I think we have some nasty stuff in our future and I'm just trying to survive today" 

Oh, we did. 

I guess this was when the sand was still "easy" 

Pretty soon after stop 1, we hit the "sand" portion of the race. 8 inches of loose sand up and down hills for huge stretches. I can like kind of imagine riding through it if I was a totally fearless person, but ... alas, I am not there yet. Despite it being his first gravel race ever, Max (wisely) had watched youtube videos on riding in sand and coached me. Our learning curves were quite different, with Max tearing through the sand by the end and me, uh, unnecessarily screaming with joy every time I crossed one section without walking. 

It would have been a pretty demoralizing section if not (1) I've done Matt Acker races before, so I knew this was likely coming (2) I was only trying to finish with a smile on my face. So I celebrated every time I rode in the sand a little better and called that a win. 

The sand calmed down around mile 60ish, when we emerged for aid station 2. We kept putting down miles, talking, and enjoying a nearly perfect day in Michigan on back roads. Note: a lot of people were outside cheering for us and offered snacks/water outside aid stations. At one of them, they had a sign that said "Free Beer" and Max was like "Free Beer?!" but I wasn't even going to slow down until I saw the can of pringles on the table. 

Full stop

 and slammed on my brakes. I took like a 1/3 of their pringles, thanking them profusely and then we continued riding (no beer, sorry mountain bikers). Unfortunately around the corner from pringle heaven was the dreaded course feature "the Wall" which was supposed to be this super steep climb, which now I had to do one handed while eating pringles. I gotta say, all those one handed phone call meetings I do with my manager paid off in that moment. 

Not the wall,
but it would have been impressive if I could take a photo and eat pringles up a hill all at once 

At this point, I think Max and I just assumed we'd finish together and I (foolishly) told him my entire race strategy is to find a fit, nice guy, get him to tow me, and then I outsprint him at the finish. Unfortunately for me, Max, a quick learner, employed this strategy (very effectively) against me. At 4 miles to go, Max dropped me on some rollers with more descent than ascent, left me for dead, and then waited (after) the finish line with a massive grin. UGH, foiled. 

We finished in 9 hours, in the bottom 20% of the 100 mile race. How does it feel? I had a great day. Sure, I'd love to get a mug and I definitely think there's a version of me that could have done quite well and competed her heart out, but ... I had a great day and laughed for hours. I'm not recovered, my heart rate was astronomical most of the day, and to really race again, I still need to rest, but ...  even if it set back my recovery a month, I regret nothing. 

So here's to getting beat at your own game and getting outside during the best month of the year in Michigan and finishing things without trips to the ER. 

Michigan Fall! 

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