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70 Miles and 7,500 Feet, the Hilly Billy Roubaix is Complete.

70 Miles and 7,500 Feet, the Hilly Billy Roubaix is Complete.

The Hilly Billy Roubaix is a brutal race through some of the hilliest back roads in West Virginia and southern Pennsylvania that covers 70 miles and over 7,500 feet of climbing. For the stat junkie, that’s well over 100 feet per mile (check out the ride here). The terrain makes it that much harder of a race. Most of the roads (if you can consider them roads) are loose gravel and muddy passes. The highlight of this being a stretch of the route that was actually not a road but a creek that we went up. As if this wasn’t challenging enough, the almighty bicycle powers that be decided to drop non-stop rain the day before the race turning every inch of the dirt roads into deep mud pits. I went down with Steve Burdine from roll: my buddy Chad Eckhert and Steve’s friend Jim. Jim was the only veteran, Steve, Chad and myself had no idea what we were getting into. Chad, being the nutball he is decided to go the day before.

Before the madness began with Chad and I

The race began with the only thing that could like up to its name, a pig squealing into the microphone. It was fantastic and terrifying all at the same time, but we were off! There was a mile or so of pavement and it got all the jitters out. Then a left turn and an immediate gravel climb. It wasn’t a particularly hard climb but since we were packed so closely together it only took on rider to unclip and walk up the hill to make every subsequent rider behind them unclip and push their bike up. I wasn’t happy at all so I shouldered my bike and sprinted up the hill and found myself up there with the guys in the front of the pack. I was thrilled! There was a pretty gnarly decent that I ended up flatting out on along with 2 or 3 other riders. I knew I lost my shot at podiuming, especially when I pulled my mud caked hand pump out to pump up my tire. The other riders who flatted filled up with CO2 and were out of there. Lesson learned, CO2 on race day. I filled up and was back on the bike.

Steve Burdine is still smiling...for some reason

The most notable section of the ride was Lice road. Though should probably be changed to leech road because I’m sure the mud pits were filled with them. The raid from the night before made this road treacherous. The thickness of the muddy water made it impossible to judge the depth of the hole until you were halfway through it. Some pits had me bottom bracket deep in mud. It was nuts!!! There was no good line through there you just had to barrel through it and hope to keep your tires underneath you. The road ended with a creek crossing. I saw one of the riders in front of me go through a section that must have been at least two feet deep. I decided to make a new line. It turned out to be a very poor decision because I found myself up to my seat post in muddy creek water. I definitely picked up a few grams in water weight.

This is one of the shallower mud pits

The other most notorious part of the ride was a section of the road that wasn’t actually a road but a stream. It was on a climb, so we were riding upstream and it was flowing hard! Some riders dismounted and walked up but I was determined. I pedaled through it. I had no idea what the terrain was like I was going over, large rocks, stick floating down stream and I am sure I ran over a fish or two. It turned out to be one of the most refreshing parts of the ride. The water was cool and fairly clean, it was a cool mid ride wash that I needed to make it through.

Chad tearing it up through the mud

The race continued and all four of us finished in decent time. I was the first one back and cheered in the gang. We all were exhausted but had just enough energy to pound slices of pizza and help put a decent dent in the kegs they had provided for us. Good work Steve and Jim! Chad deserves a special shout out though. It was his first race ever, and a hell of a first one at that. He was on the cheapest bike in the field and still managed to finish in the middle of the pack, Chad you are a beast!

So much mud!

This was my second gravel ride with an insane amount of elevation on my A:1. The bike is fantastic! It punches well above its weight in these races. I continue to be blown away with the amount of leverage the flat bars give me but the speed that it can maintain on pavement and packed gravel with a rigid for and 700x40mm tires. I am convinced that this is the perfect bike for any gravel ride with any sort of elevation like the Hilly Billy Roubaix.

 SEE THE BIKE

John Kohlhepp

Head Domestique

Roll: Bicycle Company

Roll:, Ihearttattoo, and Stonewall, S:1 Artists Edition Bike Collaboration.

Roll:, Ihearttattoo, and Stonewall, S:1 Artists Edition Bike Collaboration.

At roll: one of the core ideas behind why we do what we do is that we celebrate where life takes people, bikes just happen to be one of the vessels that we experience life on and we want to share those experiences with people. That is why, when we were thinking of what we wanted to do in our first summer as a bicycle company one of the first events that came to mind was Columbus' Stonewall Pride Fest. Columbus is extremely diverse and Pride celebrates all of that diversity and goes on to support where our community is going. We wanted to be a part of it!

Donating bikes to be raffled or auctioned off for a charity or cause is something Stuart Hunter, CEO of roll: Bicycle Company, does often. But we wanted to take the Pride Bike one step further and work together with a few other individuals and organizations with deep roots in both the LGBTQ and bicycling communities in Columbus. 

The collaboration came when I was riding mountain bikes with Chris Carter, the main tattoo artist and owner of ihearttattoos, talking about the idea. I think his work is incredible, I want him to do some single-track spiraling up my leg someday, so I asked him if he would be willing to work with us on the bike. In a true display of Chris's humble character he declined and said that one of his artists, Haley Hagerman, would be perfect for it because of her connection to the LGBTQ community in Columbus. When he introduced us the following day and I told her the idea I could tell by her reaction that her connection and love for those who the bike would be cerebrating was deep and knew that she would do a really good job with the bike. I left her the frame and let her at it. When I got it back I was astonished with the detail of the art. 

Aside from the iconic rainbows that have become the symbol and unifying flag of Pride, Haley filled the bike with bright and robust flowers. "I did flowers" said Haley, "because they're happy and colorful and persistent, just a great vibrancy I feel the LGBTQ community strives to accomplish and promote." What Haley did was encompass and celebrate what the LGBTQ community is through her art and did it on a bike, something that we stand behind as a vessel of moving forward and bringing people together. 

I hope to see everyone out at Pride Fest next weekend, June 16-17 at Bicentennial/Genoa Park. We will have the booth with the bike, which we will be raffling off both at the event and HERE for $10 an entry. All proceeds to directly to Stonewall Columbus.

ENTER THE RAFFLE

Thank you Chris, Haley, ihearttattoo, and everyone at Stonewall Columbus!

 

John and Stuart tackle the Mohican 100 on their A:1 Adventure Bikes

John and Stuart tackle the Mohican 100 on their A:1 Adventure Bikes

First, let me preface this article by saying that roll's A:1 Adventure bike was never designed or intended be ridden on the terrain that makes up the Mohican 100 kilometer race.....But we took them on it any ways, and both finished!

Bright and early wake up call in the house

the Mohican 100 is the most grueling endurance mountain bike race in Ohio. Racers choose between a 100 kilometer and 100 mile race course. roll: had a total of 6 racers total in the race, all of us opting for the slight more sane 100k route. only Stuart and I opted for the slight less sane A:1 bikes. The race started in downtown Loudenville with a long climb on the pavement to spread the riders out before we hit the single-track. I pushed my way up to the front of the pack because I knew this would be one of my only opportunities to attack because I was rocking 700X40 Kenda Flintridges that come stock on the A:1

We hit single track and were flying! I was up there with some of the fastest riders in Ohio, and I felt more confident in my bike handling skills then ever before. The trail was pristine and dry, perfect for my small block skinny tires. But then a corner turned greasy, too greasy for my tiny tires and BAM! I was one the ground, face in the mud, every rider I passed on the pavement rushed by me, probably chuckling to themselves as they passed by. I quickly remounted and nudged my way back into the line...crash 1, there will be 4 more throughout this article.

The rest of the first section of single-track was mostly playing cat and mouse with a few different riders, most of them gawking over the bike (vintage racing Porsche gulf blue), then confusion at what the hell someone was doing in the Mohican 100 on a straight bar cross bike. Right before we had our first aid station I hit another greasy corner and went down, crash number 2.

After Aid 1 we had a couple miles of gravel road and I was able to catch back up to everyone who laughed at me after crash number 1. We returned to single-track and I remained in a fairly consistent position for the remainder of the race. That is until we hit the rocky, pine tree rooted forest known as the Mohican wilderness or, as I called it that day, hell. This section of trail is some of the best single-track in Ohio and pushes rider and their bike to the limit. I had crashes 3-5 over the course of 4 miles. Twice I hit a drop off too slowly and buried my  front wheel in mud, then proceeded to bury my face in the mud as well. Then I took a corner too tight on a downhill section and caught my handlebars on a tree. I got bucked off then both my bike and me tumbled down to the bottom of the hill. 

The wilderness ended but then spat us right into some brutal gravel roads. At the top of one of a hill that seemed to last forever I found my saving grace. It was a ragtag bunch of guys, outfitted with short jean shorts, mullets and a cooler full of PBR. They handed me one and I downed it. I am a firm believer in beer strength and think that my sub 6 hour time is a testament to that. All that was left was the 5 mile, moderate loop in the state park. Beer strength was in full effect and I was passing people on the trail left and right. I head the announcer at the finish line and gave every last bit of effort to finish strong. My final time was 5:56 the announcer said. I could not have been happier with my time, so I celebrated with many pints from Great Lakes Brewing Company. I was not the only finisher on an A:1, Stuart also finished the race with a time of 8:29.

Once all was said and done I took two things away from the ride. First, that my A:1 punches above it's weight. It was by no means a good bike to take into the race, but it finished next to bikes that were in the $3,500-6$6,000 range. Second, that beer solves everything, except a flat tire....sorry Stuart. 

 SEE THE BIKE

Dave, Gary, Andrew and Stuart all finished the Mohican 100