Rides We Like: A Fool’s Paradise (As They Say)
(2017) I try not to look a month ahead on the calendar to see what photo awaits me. I’ve always been superstitious enough not to pass under the finish banner before the appropriate time. It devalues the actual moment of crossing the line. A sort of, “I’ve been here before, just not in this same circumstance.”
Strangely enough it’s where I found myself, hammering through the gravel gutter on Bradshaw Road. The minute-by-minute route saw my tires point toward one of the gravel sectors of the fast approaching Kermesse Sport's Fools Classic. It’s not just any gravel sector anymore. With the Fools departure from the Point Pleasant Fire Department, this has become the last sector of unpaved roads for each participant looking forward to the finish line.
The last time I went down Bradshaw during Fools Classic, it was optional. Let’s be clear: Roads are not normally optional during Kermesse Sport events, however a rather recent maintenance crew had dropped possibly the largest rocks of any road ever ridden. This bumped the difficulty status of the sector to five stars. Because of the treachery created, the organizers warned riders and then told them it didn’t have to be attempted.
I was riding with a group that carried a bit of machismo. Nobody blinked in our group when the question was asked whether the sector would be attempted. It felt like we were all waiting for one person to say he was going around, but nobody was forthcoming. Carnage immediately ensued. More than half our group punctured. I somehow managed to plow through the portion but not without drama. The bike was thrown all over the road due to the stone size. I was certain I was next to stand on the roadside and get out my repair kit.
Happily the road has been crushed down to smaller surfaces, even to the point of being in possession of two hardened dirt tire tracks. This road can propel one along at an enjoyable pace these days.
It felt natural to get out and ride this portion after spending all morning watching the Tour of Flanders. It felt like necessity to get out when the sun finally shown in dramatic fashion to provide a beautiful day. The only indication of the heavy rains from the week was shown in the road gutters, which had a Zen-like trickle to provide the relaxation. I’d be lying if I said I normally ride Bradshaw Road like that. Philippe Gilbert may have crossed my mind slightly while bouncing down the road.
A couple turns toward home gave head and crosswinds. I had one more thought about Belgian cycling. I’m sure the Belgians would love to put on a clinic in these conditions. I carried on, ascending a road that curiously passes between a farmhouse and its barn.
I try not to cross a finish line before the final sprint, but there’s a technicality. I rode Bradshaw Road in the opposite direction than Fools. It would have been cheating to power down the last sector, fresh as could be, in the paradise-like setting that will happen on April 15. Therefore I don’t consider going the opposite direction too much of an interference. But it sure did feel great pounding down the road, thinking Gilbert- or women's race winner American Coryn Rivera- was trying to chase me down for a spring classic finish.