This is the Love Valley Roubaix. Gone is the fear of overheating that some riders had at the start. Gone are the majority of the riders who started this 50 mile jaunt through the Brushy Mountains. They've been left behind in the opening miles by the 7 riders in front of me. The opening climb that came in the first miles of the race was a veritable mine field of shattered dreams as one rider after another exploded spectacularly as the Fox Mountain road tilted up and up and up. Two riders popped from the lead group (including +David Clark ) fell far enough behind on the climb to warrant me passing them and nestling in cozily with the front group that included +Jeff Welch , Sonni Dyer, Reid Beloni, Miles Hubbard, and Dirty Darrel Prillaman.
This rolling sufferfest ground out mile after mile, passing through the odd bit of sunshine and then plunging into fog and so many different kinds of rain that I was able to marvel at the variety of precipitation that pelted the car. This lead group was rejoined by David Clark and another rider who chased back on with some impressive descending on the twisty dirt and gravel roads criss crossed with rivulets of tan water.
I stopped to help a rider fix a flat tire. He expressed simultaneous disappointment and relief at not being able to ride in the lead group any more. He fumbled the tube change with the frozen blocks of wood buried deep in his gloves. I took off to catch back on to the lead group only to find it in tatters on the second long climb of the day. Riders drifted past the car, numbly locked in slow motion heroics as they inched toward the unseen top. I finally caught Reid, his upper body pistoning up and down as he put every bit of strength he had into the pedals. Just ahead of him, Jeff and Darrel spun survival circles in pursuit of Miles dangling just in front of them. Just out of sight rode Sonni Dyer with the aforementioned lead rider some two minutes off the front.