Amy Dombroski checks in from one of the more iconic events in all of cyclocross: the Roubaix World Cup. Although Dombroski originally planned to wrap her season up after a short European stint, apparently she’s having too much fun (and doing too well) to quit just yet. Dombroski has adjusted her late-season plans and will line up for this year’s World Championships in Tabor! In case you missed it, check out her last report from the Zolder World Cup and the Cyclocross Magazine coverage of Roubaix.
Roubaix velodrome is to cyclists as Tetley tea is to Brits, as Pellegrino is to bubbly-water-drinkers. An urge to kiss the track is a sign you have some sort of sick cycling fetish. Would you rather kiss the podium boy/girl or the mud-strewn track? Although I didn’t kiss the track and I didn’t lay and make mud-angels, I was right chuffed to ride on it, especially with it being my maiden voyage on a velodrome.
It was refreshing to wake in France on Saturday to green grass and clear roads void of snow. Beside the hotel there was a cobbled lane on which I started my morning ride. When in Roubaix… I then ventured to the center of Roubaix, found a bike path, and went on to the velodrome.
Although the course invoked some fear and worry, I was excited to race it when I had some adrenaline flowing. It was raining during the pre-ride on Saturday, but the sun came out on Sunday, making for a peanut-butter like slop, fun to slide around in all willy-nilly. The race started on the track for about 150m before taking a hard-left onto pavement, then into the pits. Out of the pits was a short sand pit and 100m of thick mud leading to the planks, which were blimey-tall. This brought us onto a soccer field for a while, where there were some fun and tricky off-camber turns. Then it was through the pits for the second time, some slick mud, a pavement stretch, and a wicked-flowy shoot through the woods before hitting the foot of the looming stairs. The flippin’ stairs. Each step seemed to be the height of my hips and grew taller every lap. It was like doing a set of max-weight back squats each lap! The rain seemed to collect at the top of this hill, as this was where the mud was the stickiest. We intertwined between trees for a bit before hitting the first drop-in descent that turned right onto a sloppy mud stretch. Then a right lead up a slick hill, which I was unable to ride. Sharp left to the top of the second steep descent, then a wicked mud bog, and finally a bike-path-like stretch to funnel us onto the finishing 200m on the velodrome.
My start was less-than-stellar, so through the off-camber field section there was some traffic that I was able to run past. When riding around others through technical bits, the front of that bunch really dictates how and what you will be able to ride. Indeed, on the second descent I tried to ride while someone in front of me was running and I catapulted over the bars. However, this very well could have been the fastest I made it down all day! A big difference between the racing I have done in the US versus across the pond is that every woman fights for every spot. There’s always someone to reel back in (unless there isn’t), and as soon as you pass someone, she will claw back to your wheel like a squirrel scampering up a tree with a cat in hot pursuit.
And so it went, pedaling, on and off, pass, chase, re-pass, get passed. The leggies were alright, so the race was also alright, with a 14th. It was nice to have the familiar faces of Meredith [Miller] and Mo [Bruno Roy] on the start line. Katerina [Nash] rocked Roubaix’s face off. All in all a grand-diddy-diddy weekend in France, where my dinner vegetables were cooked to perfection.
Amy Dombroski finished 14th with her countrywomen Meredith Miller 12th and Mo Bruno Roy 23rd. Read CXM’s full race coverage for the details.