The Rapha Prestige Midwest: Humidity Reigns
Words and photos by Kevin Scott Batchelor
The last time I got the call to cover a Rapha Prestige event, I found myself wondering how any of the teams were going to handle the brutal course that had awaited them. More than 130 miles with 14,000 feet of climbing, on mixed terrain, with dizzying temperatures, sounded much more like a stage in the Vuelta than something my friends might ride. LA was a monster, complete with jagged teeth and scorching breath. With only a fraction of the teams finishing what was surely the hardest ride of their riding lives, this would be the last of the pro tour level parcours, right?
On paper, the organizers had come to their senses when they laid out the Rapha Prestige Midwest route. Twenty miles shorter and five thousand less feet in elevation gain seemed more in line with a challenging route for regular humans. As is often the case in life, “on paper” isn’t worth much more than the paper it was printed on. The non-stop rolling terrain, loose gravel, high temperatures, and downright abusive humidity gave the participants all they could handle and more. For at least four of the riders, a dance in the cornfields left them with heat exhaustion they won’t forget.
As temps ticked toward unbearable and my t-shirt clung to me, it became obvious I would be handling double duty for this event…photos and heavy support. With the back of my trusty Subaru packed with as many gallons of water as it would fit, we set out on the roads. Hindsight would soon tell me that it wasn’t nearly enough. Perhaps the organizers hadn’t lost their edge after all. Despite the conditions and course doing everything they could to stymie the smiles of the riders, fun was had by all, even if it was type 2 fun.
Thanks to everyone who made this one another unforgettable day!
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