Yesterday I went over to the west side of the state to compete in the Barry/Roubaix road race. While drawing on the name of the famous Paris/Roubaix race, this race was held in Barry County on primarily dirt roads, one of which was little more than a jeep trail. The weather had been calling for a mixture of rain and snow at race time but then changed to not having any precipitation until later in the day. If it had rained the race would have really resembled the notoriously muddy race across the pond.
I had ridden the course a few weeks ago and found that it was no different than the rides we do on our side of the state; in fact the hills were not as large but more numerous. And of course in a race every hill seems to require more effort than a casual ride.
There was close to 30 of us in my group and I was about mid pack at the start but quickly got myself toward the front of the group as we immediately started up the first grade of the day. A few went off the front but I was concerned about just putting in a solid effort for the day and did not take up the chase.
We soon came to the long, uphill jeep trail that caused problems for numerous riders with the sandy stretches and ruts. I was able to pick my way around and through a lot of riders that had started in the waves in front of us but at this point I had no idea who was in my class and what position I was in.
It seemed that for over half of the race I was on my own as there were not many groups forming since we were one of the last waves, so any group I did catch meant that they had started ahead of me and were going slower. With the windy conditions it made soloing a tougher effort.
I finally made the connection with one group that was going about the same pace I was and I was able to sit in for a while before going off the front with about seven miles to go. I passed quite a few riders in the last sections of hills and was surprised to find I had finished 5th. I thought I was much further behind.
I have been struggling with my training over the last 6-8 months due to extreme muscle soreness in my Vastus Medialis, the muscle just above the knee on the inside of the quad. I noticed on Thursday what I perceived to be a flaw in my pedal stroke and after doing some research and talking to some bike fit experts, came to the conclusion that bike setup may be a leading factor in my soreness.
I broke one of the cardinal rules of racing, trying something new in a race that hadn’t been tested. I changed saddle height, pedal width, and adjusted my cleats. I was surprised to find during the race that I had no muscle soreness at all, other than normal race fatigue. After the race my legs actually felt good, just tired. There is still some minor tweaking to be done with fit but overall I am relieved that the issue seems to be resolved.
The next race will probably be in Canada next month. Bring it on, eh?