I did a pretty cool race last weekend. It was called Webster Roubaix because it had a dirt road with a washboard surface. The loop was 9 miles and the dirt road was right at 2 miles. The remaining 7 miles were all narrow country roads with not-so-good surface. The start/finish line was about a mile down the dirt road.
It was fast right from the gun. Since I haven't raced in almost 2 years I was a little too tentative and not following wheels as closely as I should. Third time down the dirt road I was in good position near the front but just didn't have the horsepower and ended up in the 2nd group. There were quite a few up the road, 30 maybe, which left 50 behind. I ended up riding hard with a group of 3. We kept catching people and by the beginning of the 6th lap we had 18 in our group. I noticed that I could out ride almost everyone on the dirt road. So every time down it I'd get to the front and force the pace. They had to chase back to me and a couple other guys every time. We let up a little on the final lap. As it turned out we were only about a minute behind a group of 8 who was only a minute behind the lead goup of 10. It was always a fight to get to the dirt road first. With a mile to go I was 3rd wheel. At about 3/4 mile to go I attacked hard and opened up a big gap. 2 guys caught and passed me right at the line. 21st out of 80 isn't too bad for my first race back. I think I'm within about 5% of being competitive but I know that 5% is the hardest to get.
On another not, the "real" Paris/Roubaix is this weekend. I think it will be either-Tom Boonen, or Ballan but I'd like to see Roger Hammond too.