Ronde Ohop - Don't be scared of a little dirt
The first Roubaix type race I ever did was the Spokane River Roubaix in the mid 90's. I had never ridden a road race with dirt sections before and was intimidated by it. But I was younger, hungrier and ready for anything. To make a long story short I made it over the dirt climb (and it was a real climb!) with the lead group before grovelling into a lowly 16th (although Iwas credited with 6th). I was exhausted (I later learned I had strep throat) by this different kind of race. I was also in loved.
Whenever you hear about a road race with dirt sections the hyperbole starts. It's epic! It's super hard! No one wants to ride it but everyone wants to win it!
To me the reason to do A Roubaix or Kermesse type race with dirt is that everyone earns their place. Let's be honest, in a regular road race most riders are just getting sucked along. Got 16th? Meh. Maybe you earned it maybe not. But 16th at the Ronde Ohop is deserved; you can't sit on the guy in front of you and just pip him on the line. There are tactics and tricks for improving your result (I can probably get 2 places because I know the course so well) but you still have to ride your bike hard and smart. Even if you aren't in for the win, that ability to really earn your place even if it's dead last is something that you can take with you and build on for other races.
The 2011 Herriott Sports Performance Ronde Ohop power by ByrneInvent is August 21, 2011 and is the final round of the 2011 Washington Cup.
The race covers a 6 mile paved circuit 2-4 times (depending on the category) before finishing with 10 laps of the Mashel-Nisqually Loop. The loop features 1 mile for paved road and 1.25 miles hard pack dirt.
Road or Cyclocross bikes can be used but 25-28c road or file tread tires are recommended (neutral wheel support is provided by FSA).
For more info visit the Ronde Ohop Website at http://www.dirtymoose.com/2010ohop/index.htm