Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dec. 16

Inspiration for Prarie Roubaix by Neil

Here is one for you... Saturday morning I get up and we are hanging
around at my father in laws new cabin home... VERY COOL! Everyone is
sipping coffee and chatting when my brother in law walks in and says, I
think we are missing our ride, Mike and his buddies are riding north out
of Rockford on the White Pine trail at 10. I responded by saying I
don't think I have missed my ride.

I asked how far I was from the trail and my brother in law Bill, also a
bike racer, said ten miles... Well, that was perfect, I could cut them
off. So I took off on Bill's mountain bike and headed for Cedar Springs
as fast as I could. When I got to Cedar I got some sugar for my bottles
and stood on the trail.

Now this trail looks a lot like the Arenberg Forest when you see the
riders hit the Cobbles in Paris-Roubaix. I didn't know which way to
head until I saw that Mike had left a message that informed me that they
were still south of me. So I started down the two track rails to
trails. Two track, not cinder. Wonderful. The sun is fighting to get
through and there is a strong south wind that I am riding into,
thrilling, a spring classic in December.

I got to the paved trail and just as I did I spot Mike, Tom and LeeJay.
TOm and Lee Jay don't know me so I yell out "MAKE ROOM!" in a real
grouchy voice. Mike is laughing while there other two that don't know
me that well don't know what to think. The next thing I know we are
heading north on the two track with the wind on our back talking about
RAAM. They are very interested. It is fun to talk about and it is even
better imagining that we are in a four up break away in the late stages
of Paris-Roubaix. We take turns on the front and chat about RAAM
strategy until we hit Sand Lake. Here we take a left and ride through
town and are heading west out of town when we take a left into the head
wind. Very cool! Moist dirt road and on cue Mike puts in a great pull.
The dirt is loose and moist, Spring Classic all the way. I take a stong
pull as we head back for Rockford. Mike is looking great, he races with
the Cat. 2's in the summer and holds his own, he hasn't lost any!
We take our positions on the front and start pushing it. We are going
along a fence line that could easily be in Flanders. Perfect!

We get back to the trail and let those guys catch on. Mike and I keep
the pace high. The ride is 2 and half hours in when I drop them off at
the pavement. The 12 miles home are tough but great at the same time.
I am spent but to get in a classic like that in December in the Midwest
is priceless!!

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