Hilly Billy Roubaix: the Short Version of our Ultra Cross Race

Hilly Billy Roubaix

More than 24 hours after completing the Hilly Billy Roubaix, I am still riding high on the post-event rush. This 70, 72, 75, approximately 74-mile ride, billed as an ultra cross event, was held this Saturday just outside of Morgantown, West Virginia.

Felkerino and I rode it on our “lead sled,” i.e., the Cannondale mountain tandem, and since we were the only tandem team to ride (and finish), we made the podium! We were the podium! We won the Hilly Billy Roubaix piece of coal, two bottles of wine, some chain lube, and a few other trinkets and treasure for our efforts.

On the podium for the Tandem Division (c) Mike Briggs
On the podium for the Tandem Division (c) Mike Briggs

At 6:33:52, we also set a new course record for the event so… go team! The previous tandem record was 6:46:28. Only two tandem teams have attempted this course, including us. I don’t know what that means, exactly, although I can attest that this route is not what I would deem “tandem friendly.”

We rode as “Team Friday Coffee Club,” since, really, those are our informal #BikeDC teammates. Overall, we placed 138 out of 213 finishers.

The first rider came in at 4:22:46 (on a single speed mountain bike, I believe) and the last rider arrived with an elapsed time of 9:19:44. I’m not sure of the total number who started, but read that several riders abandoned due to the heat.

Hilly Billy results

Much of the course covered dirt and gravel-filled unpaved “roads.” And mud. Did I almost forget to mention mud? An old Ride with GPS file showed the route having over 8,000 feet of climbing for the full distance. We’ll see what Felkerino’s GPS track shows, but it sure was a challenging course.

Hilly Billy Roubaix Elevation Profile

Our tandem rode well over the mountainous terrain and suffered NO mechanicals. The lead sled was made to ride off-road and it offered a solid and sturdy ride to us on Saturday.

Felkerino and I both commented on how versatile our Cannondale has been– from our first brevet series together in 2005 to this weekend’s Hilly Billy Roubaix– that bike has been there for us.

Cannondale tandem, post-ride
Cannondale tandem, post-ride

This bike is ideal for gravel and dirt, and maneuvered confidently up and over any steep stuff that came our way. Because we spent so much time out of the saddle I did not notice any of the fit issues that come into play on a long road ride with this bike.

The area outside of Morgantown was a gorgeous, if unrelenting, place to ride and Felkerino and I had an amazing day on two wheels. We received so much support and enthusiasm from volunteers and other riders for our tandem effort. Thanks to the organizers and everybody who made sure we stayed on course and cheered us on. You kept us going through it all.

Single speed riders on the Hilly Billy Roubaix

I have a longer another post planned. As this was my first attempt at an event like this, it’s difficult to capture all of my thoughts about it without a little processing.

To wrap it up into a few words in the interim, the Hilly Billy Roubaix was a thoroughly engrossing and thrilling event, and it doled out a hefty dose of post-event endorphins and ambitions for future off-road rides on the tandem.

In between the savage ups and downs and falling over in the mud (it’s true!), I managed to snap a few photos, which can be found on my flickr page.

Stay tuned for a longer another post about this ride, coming after the endorphins wear off and I am able to organize my thoughts into something more profound than THAT WAS AWESOME!


  1. “Stay tuned for a longer post, coming after the endorphins wear off and I am able to organize my thoughts into something more profound than THAT WAS AWESOME!”

    Why do a longer post? What could express your fun more than this post and photos have already done? This post lets me know that you had fun and, without specifically noting it, that you’re recommending the race. I finished this post thinking “that was nice” and it left me wanting more, which is much better than risking “does this post ever end?”

    “THAT WAS AWESOME!” — the write-up, I mean.

    Just my opinion (despite the fact that almost all my blog posts are WAY too long and pretty boring, to boot.


    • Maybe longer is not the right word, but I do plan to share more about the experience since this type of ride is pretty distinct to other types of riding or events that I have done.


  2. I for one am very interested to hear the blow by blow of the race. I think I could do two blog posts for every race – one about the event in general, and one with my feelings and thoughts and observations as I am on the course. It’s tough getting it all in one.


  3. MG and Felkerino! who knew you did off road rides on bike tires??…

    looked like fun. and very impressive.

    i sat around this weekend. i ate donuts.


  4. Nice work!
    Given the state of your bike, I don’t think that you mentioned the mud enough.
    Also, that elevation profile makes me both horrified and curious.


    • Hi, Nathan! It’s amazing how adrenaline helps with the hills, at least in the short term! And also, I hope I addressed the mud aspects to your satisfaction in the additional post I wrote :).


  5. I’d be interested to know more about your view of Ultra Cross. Is it highly competitive like a traditional road race, or more like a brevet? Did you feel like the riders were racing, or just out to have fun and survive?


    • Hope my next post answered that for you, Bob. It did not feel that competitive from our place in the pack, which I loved about the event! People were really encouraging throughout, too, saying good job as they passed each other along the ride.


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