What is Barry Roubaix? Like the website says, “A Killer Gravel Road Race” or as I now like to say, 65 miles of Leadville, just replace the 5 big climbs with 40 little climbs and subtract 10,000 ft of altitude. 40 little climbs translates to zero recovery, non-stop pedaling.
Much like Leadville you see all types of bikes; mountain bikes, cross bikes (yes, always someone on a cross bike at Leadville), tandems and even a few road bikes (not so many road bikes at Leadville). Even like Leadville – 1000 racers.
I got out of bed at 4:15 am on Saturday, picked up Todd of TenSpeedHero slash HalfAcreCycling fame and headed to Michigan. While waiting in line to park (20 min just to park, I’ve never been to a race where there was a line for parking) I noticed the outside temperature read 18 degrees, not so excited to be in Michigan all of a sudden. Luckily, packet pick-up was a breeze, shout out your number and you got a plate. No I.D. No license. No fuss. Took all of 10 seconds.
Did I mention it was 18 degrees? We had a police escorted neutral roll-out (Leadville style) before hitting the dirt. The initial dirt 2-track felt so good. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been in the dirt and Immediately felt right at home. After the first couple of grunt climbs I reached down for my bottle and noticed that I had already lost one in the rough stuff and the nozzle on the bottle that remained was frozen shut. Great.
It’s been forever since I’ve done any climbs on a bike and Barry Roubaix did not disappoint. The climbs are not the long, get into a rhythm grinds found in the West but non-stop short grunts that really wear you down.
I was so beat after 1 lap of the 2 lap race that I almost bailed. Lap 1 was very much a pack race where road tactics and drafting either helped or hurt you, I’d jam up a climb passing the riders around me only to get sucked back in to the group on the flats. Lap 2 was all about attrition and I frequently found myself riding along all by myself. There was a small pack that I rode with for part of the last lap but they shed me pretty fast on the last 5 miles of pavement, I ended up crossing the finish line in 3:48, 49th in the 65 mile category.
Barry-Roubaix is a race worthy of a road trip or flight from anywhere in the country. Huge turn out, well run and well organized, great early season endurance race, awesome people, raffle and FREE flowing Founders. Highly recommended! Oh yeah, a Canadian dude won on a cross bike.