The weather was good--really one of the few warm and sunny days we had this spring. There was a pretty steady breeze out of the South, and riding among the fields and scrubby trees of Southern Ashtabula County on the wrecked country roads, it really felt like we could be in Northern France on the cobbles.
The group went at a really good pace on most of the roads, but luckily stopped to regroup several times. I was not in shape to keep up! I haven't really made a single trip into the pain cave so far this season, but I went way down deep a few times during this ride, especially on the long gravel/paved hill that Jim found for the course.
By the last few miles, I was thrashed, and actually just dropped onto the little ring on the flat roads just to keep moving. I think I should have brought quite a bit more food.
This year, many riders opted for a CX bike setup with 'cross tires, or heavy duty road tires, so there were not as many punctures as last year. I rode my 'cross bike and mounted some heavy duty touring tires, and for the first time was able to ride full speed on the rocks without worrying about a puncture or destroying my wheels. I came up short on a bunny hop over a pot hole at full speed and caught the lip squarely with the rear wheel, but didn't even have a problem.
I think the ideal setup would be an old road bike with heavy duty touring tires. My CX bike is a frame size smaller than my road bike, and my position is a little more upright, which ended up being a pretty painful combo by about mile 30.
It was a great experience, and was a good way to get psyched up to watch the pros tackle the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, and to be even more amazed that it's possible for a human body to endure that. Thanks Jim!