All I want to do is drink beer and train like an animal.
- Rod Dixon

I'm feeling rough. I'm feeling raw. I'm in the prime of my life.

The Lifestyle: Rouge Roubaix 100M Road Race

A road is just a road for most people. But for runners and cyclists the road can set the tone for the workout or race. Even just by announcing the route a group of athletes can implicitly decide what kind of workout they're going to have. Some roads are easy, some are fast, some are hard. Some are heartbreaking. And some are just on another level entirely.

My dad sent me this article this morning about the Rouge Roubaix 100M Road Race in rural West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana and Wilkinson County, Mississippi. According to the article the race is an attempt to recreate the harrowing conditions of the famous 160M Paris-Roubaix race held every spring in northern France. For those of you not familiar with the Hell of the North as Paris-Roubaix is sometimes called here are a couple of clips that give you the general idea:

According to the article the Rouge-Roubaix race grew out of some guys looking for “absurd, crazy roads” in the area. The article doesn't say exactly how that grew into a race but the result sounds like truly wretched century. Mentally, I'm not sure if I could ever handle a race like either of these. I have a hard enough time descending and cornering as it is. I lose confidence in rain. Gravel? Cobblestones? Forgetaboutit. Every time I have to ride the cobbles on the JHU campus by the "beach" or around the Monument in Mt. Vernon I go about 2 mph. And I'm just training! Racing is something else all together.

As I was reading the article though I was reminded that some of the rides I'll be doing next week in NC with the Wisco team aren't much better - or shorter. Routes like the one on state highway 711 take you up miles of rock-strewn semi-paved fire roads. And while on the whole the roads are better than in the Rouge-Roubiax the routes in NC make up for it with several thousand feet of climbing on every ride. I remember riding with Dallas up 711, trying desperately to hang on his wheel, pretty much hyperventilating the whole way. At the time it was one of the hardest things I had ever done.

By this Friday I'll be back down there again after 3 years. Physically, I'll be stronger than before. But for me it's not the climbs or the crap roads to be conquered - I did them before and I know I can do them again. For me it's the descents. Once I got faster on the bike and had a few crashes I was never able to build my bike handling to match my improved fitness. In NC I'll have to relearn to do something I haven't done in a while - relax and trust the bike to do it's job. I won't lie, I'm scared, but I gotta face it, get over it and then learn to love it again.

What are you scared of in your training? When will you have to face it? Could you even learn to love it?

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