From Brad O’Brien’s perspective.
It’s just a gravel road race “They” said… Put on your big boy pants “They” said… It’s just a training ride “They” said… Well this was my first century ride and I’m glad I had teammates to ride with.
PHOTO CREDIT | Rob Meendering
The start time was 7:00am, It was a balmy 30* with clear skies and zero wind. Roughly 250 racers lined up for the 100 miler. To say I was nervous about the distance and elevation would be an understatement. My longest ride to date was the MSU Gran Fondo which is 80 miles of relatively flat black top. So this was going to kick it up a little bit. The race started like all Barry Roubaix’s, rolling out of Downtown Hastings and leading you on the rolling gravels where you are soon introduced to the The Three Sisters. By now your heartrate is up and your legs are warm, the race continues into Sager Road…. I’m not sure why it’s called a road, even calling it a seasonal road is giving it to much credit. It was like riding across the beach and the not firm sand down by the water but like something slightly firmer than peanut butter. I’m not sure of the total distance we walked our bikes but it felt like forever. The first 30 miles where definitely a challenge. After we put a little distance from the sandbox we found the first aid station. A welcome site to refuel and shed some layers. The next 20 miles rolled by with a mixture of blacktop and gravel but no sand !! Rolling into aid station two brought us past the half way point putting us 57 miles in. I was starting to feel the race hitting my body, then the thought that we still had more miles left to do than Mark was going to do all day !! (and he sent this to Mark to proof read… Nice!) Leaving each of the aid stations I was feeling good, the volunteers were very positive and helpful. By mile 70 I was hoping for a mechanical issue with the bike…. It didn’t happen. I was thinking how can I get out of the Mohican 100 ??? Why do we do this ??? As we hit the final aid station to refuel spirits were high and the thought of 19 miles left didn’t seem too bad. Mile 90 hit me more mentally than physically, I was cooked. I was looking for a ditch to crash into… I struggled and wasn’t talking with the guys much…. Then the sign on the side of the road “3 miles” then we hit blacktop and the thought of getting off this bike made me smile. Crossing the finish line with Jim, Dan and Carlos made it all worth it. I want to thank Jim and Dan for the late day pulls and Carlos… well thank you for smelling good all day !!! Brad O’Brien.