The Inaugural Epic Road Apple Roubaix

For the past two years in preparing for the March Barry Roubaix held in Hastings, MI, my husband, Joey and I had been riding gravel roads out in our neck of the woods to get ready for the event.  Last year it was bitter cold and we got in very few winter rides.  We had managed to con several friends into our little training rides out in our neck of the woods and at some point we decided, it would be fun to make it an official event and show off our quiet Amish country roads.  And the Road Apple Roubaix took shape from there!

I am thinking you could call this year bitter cold too, but either we were tougher or crazier and seemed to get in quite a few gravel (and snow-covered) road rides.  We started riding and previewing the roads more and more trying to pick out what would be the ideal route.  The ideal route would include the newly constructed southern end of the non-paved Maple Highlands trail complete with 2 covered bridges through scenic Geauga County.  However, as the 2014-2015 winter-that-kept-on-giving, that path was not going to be passable so we went to Plan B.  There was a preview ride where we used the small very snowy path out of the north end of the park and it was hike-a-bike for most of us.  I thought my calves were going to pop from trudging through the snow in my bike shoes before we even got riding.

The ride was to start from Swine Creek Park in Middlefield, OH, the fourth largest Amish Settlement in the world.  Swine Creek Park offered a warm beautiful lodge nestled within the Geauga Park district.  Early on, we were happy to get support from Paul, the owner at Middlefield’s Fitness Plus 24 hr gym who not only sponsored the event, but also arranged a relationship for us with Middlefield Dominos.  Many thanks to both of them and we truly appreciated the local support.

In keeping with some of the other big cool bike races, we thought a title beer sponsor would be awesome and we could not have been more excited than when Cellar Rats Brewery stepped up to the task!  There was lots of behind the scenes work done such as securing insurance, park permits, and more!  One of the fun things was working with local designer, Steve McGowan on our Tshirt and Mug designs which we were pretty excited about.

We also wanted to use the event to give something back.  Locally we very lucky to have the Cleveland Velodrome right here in Northeast Ohio and we wanted to give something back to something that benefits cyclists, so we decided to hold a raffle and donate all proceeds back to the Cleveland Velodrome.  Speaking of the raffle, we were thrilled with all of the items that were donated to the event thanks to The Bicycle Hub, Cleveland Velodrome, Boom Nutrition, Mountain Road Cycles, Powerbar and Fleet Feet Cleveland.  Also a special thanks to our very own super talented cousin, Rick, for donating the coolest wall hanger ever!

As event week came, all the final preparations were made, the packets were prepared, the course was marked, the signs were made and supplies were bought.  Thank goodness schools were closed on Thursday and Friday, as I was able to put my 8 year old nieces to work alongside their parents!   The only real unknown was the weather and while it was supposed to get a little warmer, the threat of a snowstorm loomed.

I awoke to the snowfall and even 7 more registrations overnight!  The snow was already falling and it was already sticking to the roadways making the drive of Swine Creek hill difficult for some and led to a long drive for those making their way out to the event.

Conditions were far from ideal and what we would have hoped.  However, never doubt the tenacity of hardcore cylists here in the Great Lakes region.  We had around 100 people show up who were ready to ride despite the very snowy conditions.  We had teased that this event could be epic and it seemed that it certainly lived up to that.  The snow made it challenging to stay upright, let alone to go with any real speed.  The word from the aid station was they were seeing lots of smiles.  It seemed as though some were just laughing at the ridiculous of it all.  The 20 mile route was the clear choice for the day with only 5 hearty souls finishing the 40 mi route.  (HUGE KUDOS TO THEM ALL!)

Also returning with smiles was my sister and her husband, each worthy of kudos for their own reasons.  Sis, who is now a Boston qualifying runner but who has barely ridden a bike in her adult life had signed up wanting to support the event and ride with some friends.   After she helped put together the event packets on Thursday, I suited her up in all my stuff and set her up on my mountain bike while giving her a quick explanation on shifting gears.   Then I looked over to her husband who had his hand all wrapped up fresh off a hand surgery on Tuesday.  We gave him some lobster gloves that barely fit over the wraps.  Needless to say, I might have been a little nervous about both of them and was stoked to hear they both fared well!   Point being, there were lots of tough cookies out and props to you all!

Upon return, riders were greeted with Cellar Rats beer and Dominos pizza and warmed up in the lodge with their choice of coffee (thanks Bicycle Hub) or hot chocolate (thanks Boom!) by the fire.

With the return of most the riders, we pulled 27 lucky raffle winners!  In total, we sold $484 dollars of raffle tickets and made a donation of $600 to the Cleveland Velodrome.  Thanks to everyone for supporting the raffle!

While maybe the name should have been the Snowball Scramble vs. the Road Apple, thanks to all the folks that supported the event!

And finally many thanks to all the sponsors-Cellar Rats, The Bicycle Hub, Cleveland Velodrome, Fitness Plus, Dominos Pizza, Boom!, Mountain Road Cycles, Fleet Feet!

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