Friday, April 17, 2009

for the very first time...

I'm not sure where to begin.  The past week has been one for the books.  No, I didn't win the lottery, didn't notch any bike race wins, didn't even meet any crazy movie stars.  I did however get to sink my teeth into a race I've been admiring and looking to since I knew bike racing existed, that being Paris-Roubaix.  

It was big for our team to get an invite to such a prestigious race, and it was then equally exciting when I got the word that I was on the teams roster for the race.  As always, I don't think you can fully appreciate a race or happening without experiencing it first hand and looking back at the past week, I can't say how much that applied to my experience at P-R.  

Yea, its a long race at 260km.  yea, its a brutal one with 60km of gnarly cobblestons (let me add that these are not normal cobble stones, but especially jaw rattling, crash causing, tire blowing cobbles which in my experience are found nowhere else in the world).  PR also has a world class field, but I can't put into words out all of these pieces fit together to create an incredible race.  Such high stress, energy and tension within the pack.  Even greater energy lining the sides of the roads.  thousands of fans, unlike anything I've seen before, and crashes crashes crashes everywhere.  I was caught up in 3 of them, but only had some lost time and a bent chainring to show.  Normally, 3 crashes in one race would be terrible luck, but I learned that Roubaix is not a normal race in this respect.  we had 2 teamates sacrafice their bikes, another a wheel, another double flat, another injure his hand and another finish the race with a concussion after an eager fan stuck a flag poll through his front wheel!  so all things considered, my ride went fairly well and next time I get a shot at doing the race I'll start that much further up on the learning curve.  

its a shame the early kms of the race don't receive more coverage as they were by no means uneventful.  Of course the part of the race with the biggest amplitude of insanity and chaos was the forest of arenberg, closely followed by the Carrefour de l'Abre.  Rolling into the velodrome was also a big moment.  It was a great feeling to have made it through the previous 260km of chaos and be arriving on the drome.  My first time ever riding on one!! 

ok, enough talking.  some pics...

carving up the cobbles.  no, they aren't always a single file affair.  

hurt so good.  check out the sweet dirt line on the arms!
just a preview of the crazy fans.  We open the door to the van and our soigneur greame is mobbed by "trading card" grabbers.
a huge equipment and logistical effort by the staff to get us going for one big day of racing.  
a riders eye-view from the podium at the team presentation.  yes, i busted out my camera while I was up there.  
A calm Arenberg a few days before the race.  
That's all I have for now.  Currently, I'm hanging in Nivelles, Belgium.  A week and change until we head to Switzerland for Tour of Romandie.  Trying to kick a bit of plague out of the lungs right now, but a couple days of downtime were in order anyway.  

see ya


jacobtubbs said...

brent, thanks for sharing this.
i've been following your adventures more or less since your sumatanga training race last year (i ride with stuart), and i think it's awesome / mindblowing that you got to do PR -- and rode really damn well.

congratulations, and thanks for giving us mere mortals inspiration.

Huck said...

Rock on mate, Congratulations on the ride!

Dan Frayer said...

I told everyone I knew to watch and look for the former michigan mountain biker.
Great Job

Jay Belmont said...

Thanks for sharing! Sounds like a week to tell the grandkids about one day.
Good luck at Romandie!
Beautiful day in Rockford yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Great write up and pics Brent. Thank you! Congrats on your success and this huge achievement. It's official, I want your autograph :)

Good luck in Romandie. I'll be watching from the cubicle. This Sunday the Mich-MTB-Gang will be at the world renowed Pontiac Lake TT. We'll Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Blog and email ya a update.

Joe B. and the Bell's Brew Crew

Anonymous said...

Hey Brent,

It's Shannon...I broke my ankle when you broke your leg and we chatted about it. I'm so psyched to see you doing so well. That is truly awesome. After a brief break and I speed skating again and competing at top form, so life is good here too.

Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Go Brent! Great finish today in the Tour of Belgium!!

Go BMC!!

(from one cycling fan who is tired of hearing about Astana... and Garmin)...

Dylan VanWeelden said...

Nice work dude. Glad to hear your doing it and an amazing job just the same

Dylan (from the old Michigan days)

Anonymous said...

You so "Rock". Can't wait to see you in the TdF :). I'll follow the entire race in person along with your Mom and Brother. VIP tickets?
Your favorite HS teacher, Miss A.

Baron said...

I think I speak for most of us old grade school friends, it's pretty awesome to read these updates and think, "I know him." Congrats with everything. Everytime I see a bike, whether someone's riding or simply hanging on the back of someone's car, I think of you and your adventures. Good luck and God bless.


Anonymous said...

Nice prologue win in Utah Brent. I would say beating Dave Z. in a TT means you're on some killer form. Damn!!! Have fun out there. Good luck to you and your team.

Joe B. and the Bell's/Quiring Team