Hillsboro Roubaix was sold out and rocking this year. It was really great to see a FULL women’s cat-4 field, and I think they topped out every class. The new course was really nice. I was confused for a lot of it. It seemed the same, but somehow both shorter and longer! We hit the first twisty downhill into the uphill faster (it seemed, and I don’t think that was just me), but then we meandered a long time in the wilderness. There were no headwinds, only crosswinds. Everyone dutifully obeyed the center line rule. There were no centerlines. More people went into the ditch on the right than on the left, but that was because more of the course had a crosswind from the left….
Team Mack did a great job in both Masters’ fields, and we had quite a stacked set in the 50+. The 50+ was a HUGE race, with all kinds of foreigners itching to get some racing in (including Planet Bike guru Robert Downs). Mack did a lot of the work with John Fleckenstein, Don Lowe, and Frank Brummer, and international playboy Mark Shea was poised for the win. But, a small break went up and bridged to Mark, and he was poofed in the end to settle for 4th. Mark McGeen cleaned up the sprint for 5th, with Steve Hall, Uncle Gary, Don Lowe, Frank Brummer, John Fleckenstein, Mike Ozment, and Brian Van rounding out the house. That was a tough one, as the Team successfully keyed on some real threats, but came up just short of the victory. Afterwards, Lonnie Kennedy was upset that he couldn’t reach uncle Gary’s bottles (as his jetted on the first cobble section), while Mark McGeen was returning Don Lowe’s (which he surreptitiously stole at some point in the race). Old man Dyer was in the top 10, and Bernd Faust is 50?
The 40+ race was quite a slugfest, and we were putting in some serious blows. Darrell Bratton opened up the festivities with a solid break which was briefly countered by Druber. Then, Darrell went off AGAIN. Dave Stone got up to him along with Robo and another six (including Druber). Jeff Williams did an awesome job of blocking and controlling the pace of the pack, and Neil Thomas and Mark O’Banion were in the mix as well. Robo’s break was definitely gone, but Darrell was toast and came back to the main chase. Robo hung in for 4th place, narrowly bested by Stone. The 40+ Mackers did a great job, and I was pleased not to get dropped from the main chase. As we were coming into town I was cramping pretty badly, mostly from a recent soccer coaching injury (note to self: yell more, demonstrate less…), and I told local Marionite Rob Landes that I didn’t think I’d make it through the feed zone with the group. It probably didn’t help that I still had a full bottle of gatorade. I gave Rob some, and he seemed concerned about my sexual history (but not concerned enough to refuse a drink). But, I was ok, and probably could have been more aggressive in the finish. I was content with Robo up front, and with Mack’s Mark O’Banion hanging on in front of me. I should have tagged onto Mark Tank (now with Bloomington) and seen what I could do in the sprint. Ah well, not bad for my first road event of the year. I didn’t even manage to get in a crit before Hillsboro.
The Championchip timing puts some perspective on the Masters’ racing speeds….Speed will always vary according to tactics, but nonetheless–the Masters 40+ race finished more than four minutes faster than the Cat-3 race. And, the main chase pack for the 40+ race came in 40 seconds ahead of the winner of the 3’s race. My mediocre placing in the middle of the main chase timed out at 4th place in the 3’s race….just ahead of my buddy Dave Neis–who ALMOST got a brick! Dave had another awesome race! He’s not going to be a 3 much longer unless he wants to sandbag!
Gina Champion and Justin Armstead were fighting it out in their first Elite races, and both finished quite respectably.
So. Ill was well represented, with Mike Vail, Dan Williams and Chad Briggs in the 3’s. Chief and Sebastian crossed swords in the 50+. Roberto Barrios and Ken Mulligan were in the 4’s, and Gary Meredith toughed out a rough start with a serious crash to finish up in the 5’s.