Webster Roubaix was this saturday, a circuit race with 2 miles of dirt road in each lap. The 4/5 race was 5 laps. (The Pro 1,2,3 was 12 laps, which would have been one heck of a beating.) It was really a very neat experience. The dirt section was a single lane country road. Some of it was hard packed, and not difficult. However there were some tooth jarring washboard sections, and several places with sand a couple of inches deep.
The Start/ Finish, was in the middle of the dirt section which made for an interesting sprint.
Warming up on the dirt section, I thought this is really stupid from a risk reward point of view. Surprisingly as you got into the race, and things heated up, riding the dirt section wasn't all that bad. The momentum of going over it at race pace,helped a lot in dealing with the loose sand patches. Riding the dirt section created an interesting dynamic in the race, and definitely was a bike handling challenge
Personally, my race didn't go so hot. I was a little hesitant on the turn onto the dirt at the end of the first lap, let a little gap develop, and never closed it down. From there I was relegated to a second group of about 20 guys. Road pretty strong in that group, and took 2nd in our group's sprint (although honestly, not sure too many in the group even gave it a shot, given we were way out of the points).
Even the 45 miles we did it was a heck of a workout, between the rolling resistence of the dirt portion,a nd the physical beating of riding the dirt at race pace.
So while my results were lousy, it was a heck of a lot of fun. I'll definitely do it next year.